7/16/21

Salvatore Ferragamo Pour Homme and Yet Another Irrefutably Clear-Cut Account of In-Bottle Maceration




The thing that interests me most about Salvatore Ferragamo Pour Homme is that it's a nineties fragrance that was issued in 1999, almost the end of the decade, yet it reverts back to 1991 stylistically. Couple this with the fact that it's yet another rebadged Chanel after the likes of the famous Ungaro fragrances, and also currently one of the best deals in masculine perfumery, packaged in a wonderful bottle, and there's some fascinating material to consider. At $18 a bottle, this smells more like $80.

I consider it a rebadged Chanel via the two degrees of Kevin Bacon separation between Ferragamo Group and the Wertheimer empire. In the nineties Ungaro fragrances were licensed by Chanel, and Ferragamo Group owned Ungaro, making their small line de facto Chanels also. Thus Jacques Polge, Chanel's master perfumer, created Ferragamo PH. Well, Jacques and Jean-Pierre Mary, who co-authored the scent. It smells rather like a typical Polge fragrance, i.e. a Chanel fragrance, but the central fig element is very unusual and puts an unforgettable twist on what would otherwise be a straightforward spiced vetiver. My theory is that Polge crafted the more conventional woody accords, Jean-Pierre Mary reconstructed the fig, and together the two men fiddled with marrying their work into one coherent perfume. The result is quite good.

Let's start with the fragrance's highly original top notes. Instead of citrus, lavender, mint, the usual stuff, SFPH opens with an intense blast of burly clove and cedarwood. It's the inverse of every other fragrance in my collection; instead of the typical fresh brightness, this fragrance smells darker and severely mature from the beginning. From that point it relaxes into a very subtle fig and fig leaf, but here I'll depart from the majority of internet reviewers by observing that the fig notes act as a framing device for a saturnine heart accord that smells like a typical post-eighties oriental. Well-rendered notes of cedar, geranium, pine needles, vetiver, hay, cardamom, cinnamon, caraway, basil, oakmoss, rosewood, and sandalwood sprawl across a green-figgy bed of sweetness that reminds me of the clovey cinnamon-spiced apple pie accord found in classics like Balenciaga Pour Homme, Aubusson PH, Bogart's Witness, and to a far lesser degree, Havana and Lapidus PH. The scent of Ferragamo captures what was, at the time of its release, the recent past, and this has me pleasantly surprised. Longevity is lacking however, and a mere three hours after application the fragrance thins down to a vetiver-infused green fig, as transparent as an organza veil. Still, a lovely effort all around.

Ferragamo's signature, despite being Italian, doesn't seem especially Italian to me (your regular Italian). There's an Italianate edge to how the pine and cedar notes are handled (they're crisp and fresh), but otherwise it's a creamy/spicy affair. I'd say it leans rather American barbershop in feel, maybe because of its deceptively potent clove note, but I really enjoy it. If you're looking for a unique and conservative woods fragrance, this gets my endorsement, but be careful - ya gotta like fig.

Of particular interest to me is a review of this fragrance that I found on Fragrantica by user "cvaile," in which the perception of in-bottle maceration is clearly and confidently described. For several years I've heard from various maceration skeptics who say that this phenomenon is impossible (and commercially impractical), or who posit the dubious alternative supposition that one's nose becomes more sensitive to some fragrances with increased exposure to them, yet I keep finding comments which suggest maceration of some sort is at work. User "cvaile" writes: 
"I must say, my bottle has matured spectacularly well over the past 5+ years. When I first got it I enjoyed it but had a distinct impression it was a bit watered down and I could spray the entire bottle on without sending people running. In the mean time it would seem to have concentrated but the bottle doesn't appear to have seen the juice contract that much. It's become stronger obviously, but also a bit sweeter and I can definitely detect many more notes than when I first got it."

When this person states that the bottle "doesn't appear to have seen the juice contract," he's referring to the chance of some liquid volume reduction due to alcohol evaporation, which would lead to oil concentration and a stronger perfume. I've had this happen with several retail-purchased Creed GITs and Orange Spice. Initial perceptions of GIT is it's weak and transparent in nature for the first few wears, at which point I'll put it away for a while. When I return, it's a completely different story. I recall one bottle starting out like water, and a few months later it had grown so potent it was almost unwearable (and had reached a Joop! Homme strength). Orange Spice also changed, going from a few thin hours to double shifts of pounding Valencias within five years. I've since then witnessed dozens of people commenting on the same thing happening to them. 

It's intriguing that Ferragamo's scent is cited as one that undergoes in-bottle maceration after first use. My take on my new bottle is that it's pretty potent for two hours, and then dies down to roughly less than half its original strength. This behavior is aligned with the behavior of other fragrances that kept macerating while in my possession. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it developed into a different performer over the next year or two, and I will keep you updated on that.


7/1/21

CK One (Calvin Klein)


Beautiful Ad, Beautiful Frag

It might surprise you to read that I consider CK One a great fragrance. I flirted with it throughout the nineties, but don't recall ever buying a bottle, although I believe I was gifted a half-ouncer one year for Christmas or something, and I wore it and enjoyed it. CK One is among the few openly chemical compositions I can forgive; Klein wished to create an androgynous anti-perfume, and he learned that this was only possible by eschewing form in favor of function. There are only three CK frags I truly like, and this is the third (Obsession for Men and Truth for Men are the others). 

Context is everything. The early nineties ('90-'94) were just a cultural extension of the eighties. It's true that grunge music, mainly by Nirvana, marked an irreversible cultural shift away from the glam-fueled excesses of the prior decade, but it wasn't until 1993 that the decade formed its own identity. Kurt Cobain's untimely death disrupted grunge's Berlin Wall-pulverizing momentum, but his immortal It-Factor genie was out of its bottle, and America went from Cindy Crawford to Kate Moss like someone flipped a switch. As with any past era, you had to live through this one to fully understand it. I was thirteen, and acutely aware of everything. Women had suddenly started to wear jeans to church. Makeup had become optional. Tattoo culture had escaped from biker bars. America's collective idea of sexiness could no longer be found in Robert Palmer songs. Sexy was the disheveled waif in a tank top, fresh off a weekend bender, and with breath that could wake the dead. Hence the Kate Moss thing - she was everywhere. 

CK One was as much about the Kate Moss ads as it was about the fragrance. Its ad campaign was a rolling black and white panoramic film of half nude teenagers loafing around Mr. Klein himself, with the beautiful Jenny Shimizu and Stella Tennant making the occasional guest appearance to broaden the frag's cultural and international appeal. Did the perfume live up to the hype? I think it did. CK One is obviously the inspiration for Creed's Silver Mountain Water, and many writers note its nondescript and somewhat snowy freshness as laying the foundation for the endless acres of soapy-fresh frags that followed. I happen to smell it as more of a floral musk cologne, its lineage traceable to eighteenth century citrus eau de colognes, updated by Klein to smell new and a little strange. My nose settles on the white floral tones generously laced into the composition, and I find the principal thrust of CK One to lean very slightly feminine. 

This brings me to the vaunted concept of CK One: Oneness. An increasingly politicized notion of fashionable androgyny had permeated into the mainstream by 1994, and Klein wanted a fragrance that anyone, man or woman, could wear. Transgenderism had yet to become a bedrock talking point, but the conversation had begun, and Klein's fragrance needed to reflect these changes as artistically and accessibly as possible. The product came in a nondescript bottle that bore neither masculine nor feminine traits, a colorless flask with a dull grey atomizer and transparent script. The fragrance straddles the same delicate balance of its classical cologne progenitors, managing to somehow interweave the masculine nuances of precious woods and potent barbershop musks with distinctly femme notes of faux jasmine, freesia, and muguet. Never too dry, never too sweet, the package was as finely tuned as a Bechstein piano. It smells overwhelmingly synthetic because it was designed to, not because of budgetary or creative constraints. In this regard, hiring Alberto Morillas to compose the scent was a stroke of genius; Morillas' portfolio is populated with fragrances which are obviously soapy, designer-grade, and unabashedly chemical, earning him the nickname Chemical Morillas. 

How does CK One read today? Transgenderism has now become a bedrock American issue, and it's one that I'm far more open to that most of my fellow Republican friends. Oneness is a uniquely American concept: the idea that all are equal, and that everyone is someone. Gay, straight, or bi, transgender or cisgender, Klein's unifying goal was to coalesce identities into a perfume with universal appeal. We were all meant to smell as One. This is perhaps the biggest difference between the sexual politics of the nineties and the identity politics of today - instead of deference to some, Klein embraced all. The public embraced him back, and CK One was a bestseller for years, and continues to be. In 2021 we're faced with constant news stories about the plight of transgender people, and while I think that some of it is noise, I'm largely sympathetic to them. I was raised in an America where people from all walks were not written off just because they turned out to be complicated, or because they challenged established social norms. I've grown into a person who sees people of every persuasion as who they are: people. This goes for trans people too. People are alive, and as Charly Baltimore once said, life is pain - get used to it. Some transgender people struggle with their transition, with the medical and emotional intricacies of their gauntlet transition process, and with the harsh beauty standards society imposes on them. Then there are some transgender people who have survived the struggle of transitioning, have become beautiful examples of their gender, and have stepped almost effortlessly into their lives as model citizens. 

Many Conservatives get hung up on "men are men, women are women." I believe that people are defined by their behavior. You are what you do. We don't go to our graves being remembered as men and women. We go being remembered as husbands and wives, authors and mathematicians, artists and musicians, architects of our chosen or god-given identities. We live together, and we all die eventually. The Oneness of the nineties was perhaps more of a heroin-chic lip-lifting "whatever" sneer, but it has happily evolved into a contemporary conversation about what it means to be a human being. If there's a lesson to be gleaned from the original CK One campaign, it is that America's ideal of Oneness was once encapsulated in a lovely little smell that virtually anyone could pull off, on any day, at any place. For the cost of a pizza, the fragrance, and the sentiment it comes with, is yours. There's still hope for us, and it smells rather good. 

6/22/21

Post-Pandemic Update: Stuff I've Been Into

My Chinese knock-off of a brass Victorian mantle clock, cherub intact

So it looks like this pandemic is finally winding down. I've been vaccinated (Moderna) and after a few achy bedridden days, have emerged victorious over the 'Rona. For the last few weeks I've been enjoying going to public places without wearing a mask, and find it interesting that many people insist on wearing them, despite CDC guidelines now giving fully vaccinated people the green light to go naked-faced. Either folks no longer care to listen to the CDC, or they're not vaccinated. Neither of those possibilities are good, but I'm in the clear, so if they want to mask up for the rest of time, great! Not only do I get to go mask-free, but the air around me is that much cleaner. 

I'm off grape juice. After a few months of imbibing in nonalcoholic wine, I found the lining in my throat was beginning to wear, to the point where I suffered soreness for days on end. As of late April I am fully healed, and will no longer be pursuing grape beverages. I know, I know. Imparting this important news to you wasn't easy, but I thought it better to put it in writing, rather than tell you personally. Takes the sting out of it, at least for me. But on the bright side, I've been antiquing again. Not on eBay. In actual antique stores. Which brings us to my recent foray to Portland, Connecticut, and a truly wonderful little place called Never Say Goodbye. 

One sunny Saturday I was sitting on the computer perusing eBay when a buddy texts me. He and his girlfriend were at this "cool place," just slumming. The guy who owned it was swell, there were all sorts of interesting toiletries from the 1940s, and look at all these Messenger pictures! Colognes, talcs, makeup and soaps, hair dressings, oils, you name it. It was "new old stock." Apparently an old department store in West Haven closed recently and discovered in the furthest back corner of their basement two dozen boxes of things they never got around to putting on shelves. Nothing out of the ordinary, except everything's over seventy years old. I'll cut to the chase on the toiletries - I checked 'em out and they were great, but the only item that really tickled my fancy were the big full tins of tooth powder from the late 1950s. Here's the can I bought, looking as new as the day it rolled out of its New England factory:



It took me a minute to get myself together and hit the road. Forty minutes later I was talking to Bruce, the mad genius who decided to turn a hulking warehouse-sized garage next to his house into an anything-goes antique bonanza. It was a terrific afternoon. I really admire people like Bruce. He isn't in it for the money, which is rare and enviable. The prices on his items were reasonable, with some actually unreasonable for being too cheap. Case in point: the eighty dollar Crosa clock I bought for ten dollars, which Bruce had marked down from thirty. 

When it comes to the Crosa clock, your guess is as good as mine. From what little there is about Crosa on the internet, I'm gleaning that they're mostly made in China, although I see some comments here and there from people claiming theirs are made in Germany and Japan. One guy bought a variation of my clock for fifty cents. Mine has no markings on it, no "Made In" sticker, so I've no idea. It appears from pictures that Crosa's knock-off clock designs spanned a few eras, mostly eighteenth century French Louis XIV (rather Rococo), to nineteenth century English Queen Victoria (very Victorian). Mine isn't as waterskis-over-the-shark as a florid Rococo piece, but it's definitely in that Dickensian tradition of ringing in Ebenezer Scrooge's Christmas ghosts.  

How have I never heard of Crosa clocks before? They're incredible. They're made of hard rubber that looks indistinguishable from tarnished brass or cast iron. They weigh almost the same as cast iron. They're pretty well made, with intricate detailing, and I'm impressed by how anatomically accurate the sculptural elements are on mine. (Some are better than others.) I find that cheap sculptures are usually awkward in that regard, but this clock at least looks right to me. It keeps perfect time, which is to be expected from a standard quartz movement. I understand these were being made in the 1970s through to around 2000, but past that I'm not sure how far they go. Mine is notable in that the original design has been accidentally modified. There's supposed to be two cherubs, one on top of the clock, the other to its right. Well, looks like someone chipped the second one clean off. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see his little feet still planted to the base, but the rest of his body is nowhere to be found. 

I'm okay with one cherub. If both had survived, I wouldn't have bought it. One cherub is quaint, a flourish of compositional balance, a forgivable acquiescence to sentimentality. Two cherubs is a little too colors-of-the-rainbow, which I'm certainly not against at all - not at all - but it's not like I have to put that out there for houseguests to see on a central timepiece. If you didn't know about the second cherub, you'd never notice that the sculpture is technically "broken." But whatever. It still looks good, especially for a tenner. Now I want another Crosa clock. 

Other things I'm into: Cop videos on youtube. The smell of spring flowers. Women who manage to get through a day without mentioning food. Men who manage to get through a day without saying "Bro" a thousand times. People who think their Robinhood account is trustworthy. Speaking of stock accounts, my Fidelity account holds 167 shares of ACIC, an SPAC that supposedly will merge with Archer Aviation, an electric "air taxi" startup that recently inked a $1 billion deal with United Airlines. Cathie Wood, the new Warren Buffett, has invested significantly in it, and so far I've lost a buttload of money. So here's to hoping ACIC picks up, both literally and figuratively. It would be nice if these WallStreetBets jerks short-squeezed these hedge fund jerks by targeting special purpose acquisition companies. But no, instead they squeeze garbage like GameStop and AMC. I kinda get the GameStop thing, but short-squeezing AMC? Do we really need to buy up loads of a dying movie theater chain, just to spite hedgies that weren't even interested in shorting AMC to begin with? SPACS are begging to be squeezed, they're being shorted into the deepest bowels of the earth, yet nobody bothers with them. It makes little to no cents. For me, anyway. 

I'll close off by saying that my summer plans are up in the air. I have to pay off my student loans in September. If my stock market investment comes through, I'll finally get to put the master bedroom together, and polish off the living room and kitchen. If not, well, the struggle continues. But hey, at least I have you guys, to read my blog, and feed my fragrance obsession. As Trump would say, "I love you. You're very special." 

Too soon? Too soon. 

6/12/21

Club de Nuit Milestone (Armaf)

Eat your heart out, Laurice.

Youtube reviewers have a bad habit of jumping on bandwagons without actually using their noses, or their brains, for that matter. When Armaf released Club de Nuit Milestone in 2019, everyone was dazzled by the pageantry of its Millésime Impérial-like visual cues: the gold bottle, the folded company card under the box flap (just like Creed!), and the fact that its predecessor, Club de Nuit Intense, is a bestselling clone of Aventus. It walks like a duck, right? It must be one, then. So let's hop on the noisemaker, boys. We have to talk about how Milestone is an amazing clone of Millésime Impérial. La Dee Da. 

Well, guess what, Youtube? I smell a Bond no.9 frag here. Sure, the packaging is made to trick buyers into thinking they're in for a Creed clone, but the perfume itself is clearly a Bond. It's like Armaf cloned the top of Wall Street and conjoined it to the base of Chez Bond. Which makes sense, when you consider that Millésime Impérial is just a Green Irish Tweed with salty ozonic melons on top, and that Chez Bond is comparable to GIT, and that Wall Street is comparable to Millésime Impérial. But let's talk about why Armaf's decision to clone Bond frags, but then pretend they've cloned Creed frags, is genius. 

Armaf knows it can't afford to convincingly clone a Creed. But they know they can afford to convincingly clone a serial Creed-cloner brand like Bond. See, Bond doesn't use old-world maceration techniques and unicorn tears. Bond uses top-tier synthetics, which are pricy but not that pricy, and then banks on perception. What if Armaf did a GC analysis of Wall Street and Chez Bond, bought all the same chems, and hired a skilled perfumer to Tetris them into something 99% similar to both? The result is an hour of salty-sweet ozonic melons that smell amazing, followed by seven hours of milk-sweetened black tea and violets, which smell even more amazing. 

But Bryan, you cry, there's nothing impressive about cloning a Bond! Exactly. But Bonds smell pretty damn good. Like, grey market Bond prices good. About $130 a bottle good, to be exact. What if Armaf can give you the exact same experience for $40 instead? And since Bonds smell so luxurious, why not use that quality to convince buyers you've sold them a brand-killing clone of a Creed instead? Just shellac the bottle in rose gold, call it Milestone instead of Millesime, and let the dummies on Youtube do the rest. 

6/1/21

Tribute Cologne for Men (Avon)



The sticker on the bottom of my 1976 Liberty Bell-shaped bottle

It's been a while since something impressed me, but I'm about to review a fragrance that has impressed me to no end since the moment I accidentally happened across a full bottle. It's a little fougere from 1963 called Tribute, and it's excellent. I truly enjoy this stuff, and wish Avon still made it.

As one of Avon's first masculine colognes, Tribute was a bit of a Hail Mary pass to the market. With only two or three relatively obscure predecessors, the brand must have been nervous about how their fragrance would land. The masculine perfume landscape of the early 1960s hadn't fully resolved itself, and only a few commercial hits, including Chanel Pour Monsieur, Arden Sandalwood, Tabac, Monsieur de Givenchy and Vetyver, Guerlain Vetiver, and Royall Lyme and Spyce, had formed the terrain. The execs at Avon had a choice: imitate or innovate. They decided to imitate Jicky by Guerlain, and made one of the best manly lavenders of the time period.

This fragrance is just a big burnished (buurrrly) lavender note, plain and simple. I could get into abstract notions of notes and accords, but that wouldn't be an honest account. Instead I'll simply point out that there are vague accoutrements to the lavender note, things that you could probably label, but names don't matter here. This isn't a minty-herbal lavender. This is a furniture-polished woody lavender. This is a saturnine beauty prancing through sunburnt grass lavender. A chiaroscuro oil painting lavender, under a fresh coat of linseed oil. An austere father to Sex Appeal lavender. Its ambery tones are suggestive of orientalism, yet there's a clarity to the star note, and a bit of a cushioned, musky, hay-like sweetness, which gives me an unmistakable French fern vibe. 

Avon's everyman pitch was likely bolstered in the years following Tribute's release, and I imagine it made them plenty of moolah until the 1980s, when men finally lost interest in buying barbershop stuff in kitschy, toy-shaped bottles. Tribute is probably too simple to succeed today, but if they ever reissue it - make that correctly reissue it - I will eagerly seek it out. It's a fougere lover's dream. 

5/16/21

Why I Don't Believe In DIY & Layering Frags




The wet-shaver and fine fragrance worlds are interconnected in many ways, and I've observed that various DIY and layering ideas exist in both. I've never been seriously interested in making my own frags because I'm not a chemist, and never will be. A few years ago I discussed starting a fragrance company with a friend, but neither of us really believed we were the right people for the job. And I've always felt that layering perfumes that are made by the right people robs the wearer of an "identity." 

DIY is more popular among wet-shavers. B&B members proudly swear by their recipes, their concoctions being "solutions" to problems the market doesn't know it has. I've seen mention of "Bootlegger's Bay Rum," and never wanted to try any version of it. Same too for various homemade spice and leather elixirs. One guy mentions blending Pinaud Lilac Vegetal with Osage Rub to make what he calls "Frozen Veg." Sounds interesting, in a Matthew Barney-meets-Birds Eye sort of way. 

I can't shake the feeling that people don't know what they're doing, that they're flying blind. Unanswered questions abound, like which materials truly interact with each other, or am I just creating a chemical stew by eyeballing and winging it? Sloshing in random ounces of Pinaud, Masters, and Superior 70 Bay Rums might work beautifully, but then why didn't anyone ever throw them together and sell them commercially as one glorious product? I have some scruples there. Is it a good idea to sit at a table blending essential oils and internet-acquired aroma chems until something clicks? Meh. 

For me, layering is an even more dubious prospect. Again, I don't know what I'm doing. It's easier to road test layering - all it takes is a few even sprays of a couple different things. But why do it? I don't want to mix Tea Rose with other florals in my collection, because I want to smell Tea Rose when I apply it. When people ask what I'm wearing, naming one perfume sounds normal. Naming two or three doesn't. A sizable percentage of my collection are vintage or old-school masculines. Each item is powerful enough on its own. There's no call to combine nuclear forces into a Japanese monster of smell. 

DIY and layering aren't new things. They've been around for decades. But consider how unbearable it must've been in the hippie era to walk into a club and smell six hundred different patchouli and musk oils. Think about that asshole in 1970s middle school who thought layering Z14 and Paco Rabanne was a good idea. Remember that time in 1985, when you dreamt of making your own Drakkar Noir? It wasn't any better when women actually added shit to Angel. Some people have bad taste. Don't be one of them. 

5/1/21

Thoughts on Thayers Witch Hazel Facial Toner (Thayers Natural Remedies)


Thayers is a surprisingly controversial brand in the online wetshaver community. For years their "witch hazel facial toner" formulas have generated heated conversations about the authenticity and utility of their various witch hazel products. Several people have pointed out on Badger & Blade that witch hazel and "facial toner" are two different things, with the former possessing simplicity and purity, and the latter being an obscure and convoluted concept, at least for the majority of men. What exactly is this stuff?

My first experience with Thayers was about ten years ago, when I purchased a bottle of their lavender-scented witch hazel. I absolutely hated it, only used it two or three times, and chucked the bottle. I found its consistency too soapy and slick for my skin. It left a greasy feeling after application, and I broke out after using it. It also smelled like super cheap lavender soap, so I felt it had no redeeming features and never regretted binning it. But it bugged me that this popular brand had performed so miserably for me, and I always wondered if I could revisit it again.

Despite Thayers being based in Connecticut, I've never seen their stuff in stores here, which blows my mind. Only in the last year have their toners suddenly appeared on grocery store shelves, so I figured I'd grab a bottle of their rose petal facial toner and give the brand a second chance. Guys will claim their formulas haven't changed over the years, but everything changes with time. Sure, the ingredients list might read the same, but the quality of ingredients may have improved as the company grew into their success. At eleven bucks for twelve ounces, I hoped this was so. 

I found that the rose formula works well. No greasiness, no soapy-bubbles consistency, no cheap floral scent. It goes on nice and light, rubs into the skin cleanly, and leaves a subtle rose water aroma that lingers for two or three minutes before fading away. Very nice stuff, and it pairs well with Master Lilac Vegetal aftershave, probably because both have glycerin. I'm not sure why the lavender version was so awful, but I'll let it go and say that the liquid in this new bottle is quite decent. I notice it closes up tiny cuts and soothes razor burn, both excellent features for post-shave, so high marks. Thayers has earned my respect.

But is the toner technically witch hazel? I've read many conversations about how witch hazel can only be sold in a certain percentage to be labeled as such, that there's only one factory in the USA that distills it legally, that the abundance of other ingredients in Thayers' version disqualifies it, etc. My take is that there is witch hazel in the formula, and thus it is indisputably a witch hazel product, but I do think it is distinct from buying a bottle of Dickinson's witch hazel. 

Thayers doesn't have alcohol, while the average Dickinson's or Humphreys formula contains 14% alcohol and distilled witch hazel extract - and nothing else. But Thayers has aloe juice, rose water, glycerin, and a handful of other skin toning ingredients on the label, so I know I'm buying a cosmetic formula that goes a bit beyond the simplicity of its competitors' products. I've used regular alcohol-based witch hazel for years, and I've always found it soothing. It imparts a soft, velvety-smooth quality to skin after even the roughest shave. 

But one thing I notice with regular witch hazel is that it stratifies into little droplets on my skin, rather like rain water on the surface of a freshly-waxed car. It's difficult to rub into the pores, and while it calms irritated areas of my face, it takes a while to dry, even with the shot of alcohol. Sometimes it's five or ten minutes before I can move on to applying aftershave. Not so with Thayers. This stuff dried within two minutes, and I was able to rub it right into my pores, so I felt like my skin absorbed it better. It left my face feeling just as soft and smooth as regular witch hazel does, so there are no negatives from using it, at least for me personally. As they say on B&B, "Your mileage may vary."

The fragrance is surprisingly natural, and clearly based on a simple Turkish rose water idea. It contains rose water, but also contains "natural rose fragrance," so it appears the brand wanted a defensible position for their "natural" claims while supplementing the olfactory angle with their own reconstruction, which is fine by me. I have no issues with a company creating a product with natural materials while boosting their deficits in a lab. Just a little modern day science at work, folks. Would it be better if they used a richer, more robustly-fragranced Turkish rose water? Of course, but this is a small company in Connecticut. Gotta keep it real.

I'll close by endorsing the use of this toner, especially if you're a frequent wetshaver like me. Its scent is evanescent enough to not conflict with a good aftershave, and its therapeutic qualities are notable enough to make switching from regular witch hazel a sensible move. The only problem I see is that it's a bit more expensive than ordinary drugstore witch hazel, but lately even the "ordinary" stuff is pretty expensive, at least in my area, with the average price around eight dollars a bottle. For a couple more bucks, I'm getting a product that acts faster at healing my skin while smelling a hell of a lot better than regular witch hazel (and I like how witch hazel smells). 

Final note: I notice Thayers no longer makes lozenges and "healthcare" products. I don't know why this is, but wouldn't be surprised if the feds sanctioned that product line for not fully complying with regulations. Making healthcare claims about anything related to witch hazel is dicey in America, and it would only take a couple of warnings for Thayers to ditch their suckers. In my opinion, this is a good thing for the company. It's possibly why their current toner formula works better than the old stuff. They're focused on what they need to be focused on, and not sticking their fingers into too many different pies. It's a big win for the customer, and in turn a big win for them.