Tuesday, May 1, 2012

witchy woman

[This post submitted to "Your Green Resource" at SortaCrunchy.]

My mom's dad was a pharmacist.  He owned the McNitt Drug Store in Ulysses, Kansas.  My mom and uncle worked the soda fountain when they were teenagers.  Eventually, they sold the store and we were left with boxes upon boxes of fountain glasses, glass-front pharmacy displays, and the dish sets my grandparents got as part of subcriptions for selling certain drugs (an early iteration of drug-rep perks, I guess!). 

In our medicine cabinet, two reminders of Granddad as a pharmacist were bottles of gentian violet and witch hazel.  I never remember using the violet (except when I dropped it on the newly-redone bathroom floor and saw my mom hang her head and cry for the first time).  But I do remember the witch hazel.  We used it all the time, especially for cleaning out our ears. 

Witch hazel is a shrub that has natural astringent properties, helping to contract blood vessels under the skin it comes in contact with.  I had previously been using Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner to clean my face at night before bed.  (In the morning I use the oil cleanse method.)  Take a look at the ingredients in this bad boy: 

I don't know what PEG-4 is, but it sounds scary.  Time to make a switch.  I remembered the witch hazel from the medicine cabinet of my youth, thought fondly of Grandpa Bill, and picked up a bottle at Target for about $1.95.  The makeup of this is much more benign:

It does contain alcohol, which some people find to be drying to their skin.  I have found harsh cleansers to be the problem in my case, and once I switched to oil cleansing, I haven't had a problem with dryness or flakiness at all.

So far, the results are great!  Skin feels smooth, clean and fresh in the morning.  It's much, much cheaper than the Neutrogena product I was using before.  And I can rest assured that it has no strange chemical ingredients or artificial fragrances.  That's how I went from this:

To this:


Jen said...

Ima have to try this.

David Reeves said...

The floor in the upstairs bathroom was still purple when Lorissa and I moved out however many years later. Knowing Mark, I'd wager that it still is...

articles said...

Witch hazel is a great natural toner! However, it is NOT necessarily safe for cleaning cuts. I learned this the hard way after decades of using witch hazel safely as a toner and for cleaning very small wounds like broken-open pimples. One day I got a bad cut on dirty skin, so after rinsing with water I put witch hazel on it. Then because it kept itching, I kept putting on witch hazel several times a day because it felt soothing. After several days I had a very painful, crusty rash and went to the doctor. It was eczema, which I'd never had before. My doctor said that putting witch hazel right into the bloodstream, rather than just on the surface of the skin, can cause a bad allergic reaction; once you have had this reaction, witch hazel on the skin can trigger it too. I haven't been brave enough to try! I switched to diluted apple cider vinegar as my toner.

But if you're careful about broken skin, you can have many happy years of witch hazel use!

Emily said...

Thanks 'Becca! Come to think of it, we never used witch hazel for cleaning cuts. Only for cleaning our ears. We always used hydrogen peroxide for cuts.