[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: