|© L. Kathryn Grace|
The visit lengthened from a few days to ten. Halfway through, I ran out of facial toner, borrowed a car and checked two stores close to the hospital. Neither had my brand. I have sensitive skin, and didn't need the hassle of an allergic reaction to an untested (on me) product, so I reverted to an old tried and true remedy: witch hazel. The 16 ounce bottle cost less than three dollars.
As a budget-conscious young woman, I used witch hazel for years without any problems to my skin or pocketbook. I never cared for the scent, and eventually "upgraded" to a more stylish toner at the glitzy department store makeup counter. At $27 a bottle, (sold in a lovely frosted glass container, mind you), the toner was as pretty on my bathroom counter top as it was pleasing to use. When I began to come to my senses, I switched to a less expensive drugstore brand, which by then I had been using for several years. Not finding it, I checked my old standby, and found it tucked down on the bottom shelf. Witch hazel would do just fine.
Essential oil yum
Back at the house, I filled my washed toner travel bottle with the witch hazel, added a couple drops of Tea Tree oil, which I already had in my travel kit, and voilà! Fresh toner. Adding a favorite essential oil to this mild astringent makes a delightfully refreshing concoction. You could use lavender, geranium, rose or any essential oil. I like the extra tingle I get from the Tea Tree oil. It doesn't hurt that it is known for skin-enhancing and bacteriological properties as well. Plus, the fragrance quickly dissipates, and I needn't worry that I am wafting allergens to friends, family and passersby.
There's more to love about witch hazel and essential oil as toner. I've benefited the following ways.
Buying less = lower carbon emissions
That first pint bottle of witch hazel lasted several months. Eventually, I purchased a second, 32 ounce bottle, which is nearly empty.
That's all to the good. Had I continued purchasing my old toner, over the same time period I'd have contributed carbon emissions through shipping several times. Using the witch hazel cut those emissions to just two shipments worth. I can't tell whether I saved plastic, as I recycled the old toner bottles long ago, but I would hope there is less plastic in a pint or quart bottle than in several 8 to 10 ounce bottles.
I'm saving $$
The low cost of this homemade toner is a boon. Here's the cost breakdown.
Tea Tree Oil: $3.99 for a 1/2 ounce bottle today
Witch Hazel: $6.99 for 16 ounce bottle today
Total today: $10.98
Compare that to several bottles of inexpensive, off-the-shelf drug store toner I used at the time. At nearly eight dollars per eight ounce bottle, they cost about a dollar an ounce.
Remember, I already owned the Tea Tree oil, and had used some. Very likely the $3.99 cost today is an increase over two-plus years ago. I no longer have the receipt for the witch hazel, but I remember being pleased to see it cost less than $3. So it has more than doubled in price. In fact, the 32 ounce bottle I bought last time cost $6.99, exactly the same price they're charging for 16 ounces today. The clerk told me they no longer carry the 32 ounce size.
That's okay, because I'm looking for organic witch hazel in glass this time, and I'm willing to pay more to nourish the soil, preserve the multi-crop woods in which the plants grow wild, and assure the farmers and their employees earn a fair living.
This week's War on Garbage mission
Find witch hazel in glass bottles. I've searched the web and called both local and distant suppliers with no luck so far, organic or not. If I don't find it in glass soon, I'll be forced to buy plastic again. Yuk!
If you know of a source for witch hazel in glass, please contact me! (You can reach me at graceonline at sbcglobal.net)
Buy organic. Not because it will change my waste stream significantly, but because it is part of my larger mission to live consciously and do as little harm as possible. Conventional harvesters, according to Organic Witch Hazel, cut every stem to the ground. They take everything, down to the smallest twig and stem. Organic producers harvest sustainably, taking a small percentage of the overall plant, its leaves, new growth, flowers and fruit.
The witch hazel bush (Hamamelis virginiana) grows wild in many parts of the country. Some organic farmers gather wild witch hazel by hand in their multi-use forests so as not to overly-stress the eco-system (good for the planet), and they pick only at peak times for highest phyto-chemical content and most oil production (good for us).
Learn more about this ancient, healing herb
For more information about this old-fashioned plant and its many uses, check this Wise Bread page.
What's your story this week?
What is your eco-focus this week? What small change are you making in your life to build a more sustainable, healthier world for our children and grandchildren, a world more like the Village of Ordinary?
Disclaimer: I'm not an herbalist or cosmetologist. I am merely a consumer who has found this product useful in my personal care regimen.
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.