After I published a recipe for the toner I use, J asked if there might be a substitute for the witch hazel in it due to the odor of witch hazel. I have since come up with a few ideas, but every substitution has its own characteristic smell, so you’d have to decide the pros and cons for yourself.
Aloe Vera juice
Rather than being astringent, like witch hazel, aloe is humectant. This means it would have a mild moisturizing effect on your skin but likely wouldn’t be as effective at getting rid of the last traces of your makeup or even just a day’s sweat and dirt. Also, it has a somewhat strong smell of its own although it’s pleasant, like grass and plants. Obviously, don’t use if you’re allergic. Never use anything I mention or suggest here if you have reason to believe it will adversely effect your health.
Very drying, and definitely has its own odor (although that dissipates very quickly). If you choose to substitute rubbing alcohol, use maybe 50% less than you would witch hazel and the rest water.
Apple Cider Vinegar
I don’t like this option because I don’t think it gets oil based cosmetics removed and I don’t feel like the smell is any less…disturbing…than witch hazel. ACV doesn’t bother me in my hair, on my body, or on my belongings, but I don’t care for it directly on my face. Some people swear by it. Their blogs are out there.
Using green or black tea
This option could allow a person to choose a scent pleasing to them (for example, green tea with jasmine or orange spice black tea), but and tannins and caffeine would have some effect on tightening your pores and reducing inflammation, but it wouldn’t be particularly cleansing.
I still think witch hazel the best option, and the use of essential oils like lavender or tea tree can mask the smell and are good for the skin.