The search for a superior witch hazel continues, and I may have found it. It's funny to consider how public opinion changes. When I started reading Badger & Blade's forum posts in 2009, its members were enthusiastic about a polyol compound called glycerin. Men were adding glycerin to their aftershaves and boasting about it. Many were adding glycerin to aftershaves that already had glycerin in them. Glycerin was mentioned all the time. Guys wanted glycerin. Guys sought it out. Guys prized it when they found it, and added it as a magic ingredient, and nary a day passed without someone opining on its wonders. Like menthol crystals, glycerin was a hot wetshaver accessory.
Today, glycerin is the boogeyman. I'm always reading comments: "Too much glycerin," "The glycerin ruined it for me," "I prefer (x) because (y) has glycerin," etc. I suspect it's one of many reasons for why Master Well Comb has been struggling (the brand recently shuttered its website). The company seems fond of glycerin, and adds it to most of its products, including its double-distilled witch hazel. While the tacky drydown is debatably annoying in their other stuff, I find that it provides an ideal balance here: enough alcohol for the plant extract to work as an astringent, and just enough glycerin to prevent it from drying out my skin. Nice work all around, and very hard to find fault with.
Cut-rate Hamamelis Vernalis beads all across my unprepossessing mug like raindrops on a freshly-waxed Studebaker Dictator, due to my reprehensibly oily and authoritarian epidermis. Pricier witch hazel behaves like aftershave and seeps in. Masters' formula is just witch hazel, water, alcohol, and glycerin, and it feels the nicest out of everything I've tried thus far. One might argue that it's too expensive, but I got 15 ounces for ten bucks even, and I'm lucky to get twelve for eight everywhere else, so this is yet another eBay purchase that I do not regret. Try to find vintage if you can, just for the cool label.