Witch Hazel: Good or Bad?

I'm revisiting the Dollar Tree's witch hazel offerings as post-shave this week. I've never been a fan of the smell, and it makes me itch, a sensation I associate with bumps and potential scarring. It compels me to go back for proper aftershave on my neck and jawline.

But it seems to be working for that YouTuber I posted a link to yesterday. And the more I read about it on women's blogs, the more interested I become. They say it's good for acne scarring, and I think that's my only remaining problem, now that there's nothing left to scrape off my face. The old zits basically left thin spots in the dermis, redder than normal, so the color tone is uneven. I don't think that's what is meant by witch hazel's "toning" effect,  though.

"Tannins," they say, are responsible for the benefit. Tannic acid, I see, is not a part of the carboxylic fleet. But I'm a tea drinker, so I'm down with polyphenols. When I accidentally get witch hazel on my lips, I can taste the astringency: much greater than the drink, as powerful as wet alum. Having learned everything there is to know about breaking my skin down, it would be nice to be able to put it back together. So long as it doesn't turn my face to leather!

I do like the idea of an organic alum equivalent. I don't really like to use alum daily, sensing that it leaves the surface just a tad dry. I don't like to moisturize, and washing it off to the right dilution, before the aftershave, is a technical problem. Take off too much alum, and the splash penetrates too much; leave it on, and the alum is pushed deeper than it would have gone otherwise. One site referred to witch hazel "precipitating proteins" and cleansing away soap film, so it really seems like we should think of it as alum and (very dilute) aftershave, applied at once. That would be very convenient, indeed, if I didn't have to go back for more splash.

Followed by a drop of oil and a stippling of cocoa butter (the closest I could get to jojoba for now), I also appreciate the ladies' claim that witch hazel moisturizes. The toning gives way to a sort of tenderizing that coordinates well with oils and butters. You know how very wary I am of moisturizers, which in soap and lotion weaken my skin and leave me poofy, if not flaking, or even burning. When it comes from the inside, it's different. Starting from a place where the tissue is pre-shrunk, nothing ruptures at the microscopic scale. Urea and glycerin, along with other components of the NMF, apportion themselves without me having to balance anything.

Dare I hope that, by the time of my video debut, I will have a flawless complexion? Maybe the itching is filling in gaps in the collagen?

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