Witch hazel is a plant. The leaf, bark, and twigs are used to make medicine. You may see a product called witch hazel water (Hamamelis water, distilled witch hazel extract). This is a liquid that is distilled from dried leaves, bark, and partially dormant twigs of Hamamelis virginiana. Witch hazel can be applied directly to the skin for itching, pain and swelling (inflammation), skin injury, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, bruises, insect bites, minor burns, and other skin irritations. Witch hazel leaf extract, bark extract, and witch hazel water are used as astringents to tighten the skin.