If you’ve been looking to add more natural ingredients to your skin care routine, witch hazel, a natural extract that offers anti-inflammatory and anti-viral qualities, should be a staple. While few scientific studies exist that prove the effectiveness of witch hazel, many dermatologists and doctors alike often tout the many benefits of the natural extract. As Joel Schlessinger, MD, explained to Prevention, witch hazel comes from a tree-like plant that can be found in North America and parts of Asia. “Products that offer benefits from witch hazel generally contain witch hazel extract derived from either the bark or leaves of the plant,” Dr. Schlessinger told the outlet.

Among its uses, witch hazel could help cure your body and skin of a number of ailments, which is one reason why it’d be wise to keep the extract on hand and in your home. For starters, witch hazel is especially beloved for its ability to sop up excess oil and fight acne. Eudene Harry, MD, told Byrdie that the tannins present in the extract of the leaves and bark of the plant that produces witch hazel are responsible for clearing mild acne and excess oil. Using a cleanser that contains witch hazel could easily accomplish this feat.

The witch hazel extract can also ward off signs of aging. “Theoretically, witch hazel may have antioxidant effects that help mitigate and prevent free radical damage to skin from UV [rays] and oxidizing air pollution,” as dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, told Prevention.

Witch hazel can also treat minor ailments

As doctors and dermatologists revealed to Byrdie, witch hazel can also be used to treat bug bites, cuts and scrapes, razor burn, cold sores, and more minor ailments. Eudene Harry, MD, told the outlet that witch hazel has the ability to soothe the itchiness, redness, and irritation that comes from the skin reactions caused by bug bites and poison ivy. Witch hazel is also a natural disinfectant. “Witch hazel can act as a barrier, preventing inflammation-causing substances from entering your skin cells,” esthetician Rachel Roff explained to Women’s Health Magazine. “Witch hazel is great for fighting infection because it helps to kill bacteria and also reduces inflammation with its anti-inflammatory properties.”

Those looking to minimize the appearance of stretch marks and scars should also keep a supply of witch hazel in their medicine cabinets. Dendy Engelman, MD, told Byrdie that applying witch hazel to affected areas daily might have the potential to support healthy collagen fibers. “It can be used to help loose or excessive skin around scars or stretch marks to tighten the skin, helping to minimize the scar,” Engelman said.

As an added bonus, witch hazel, when added to warm water and a bit of lemon juice, can also be used to clean surfaces like metal, glass, tile, and jewelry, per Byrdie.

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