"What is a toner?" and "what do face toners do?" are questions I get asked a lot, and for good reason. A toner is a must of my personal skincare routine but most people think of them as synonymous with oil-stripping alcohol. Alcohol dries the skin, which diminishes the skin barrier function, leaving skin more vulnerable to bacteria, premature aging, sun damage and more. All things to avoid! So why use a toner? Well, a good alcohol-free toner can really make a difference, especially if you have dry and/or break out prone skin, or are looking to achieve some preventative anti-aging.
Benefits of an alcohol-free toner.
Because toners are water based, they can deliver nutrients more deeply within the skin than oil-based products. This is really useful when you are delivering antioxidants, vitamins and humectants, which you don't want to just be hanging out on top your skin, but IN your skin.
Toners can be the key to fighting stubborn dry skin and keeping a healthy glow. Oil helps to moisturize (aka keep water in), but it doesn't hydrate (aka deliver water to the skin). So, for hydrated skin, use a water-based hydrating product such as a good toner right before you apply your moisturizing facial oil or night balm.
Toners can also be key to preventing those occasional break outs. Breakouts come from bad bacteria thriving in clogged pores, which are caused by excessive oil and dead skin cells accumulating in the pores. Using a toner that is mildly astringent with a cotton pad on a daily basis will help keep pores clear. Using a toner with anti-bacterial ingredients such as thyme, tea tree, lavender or green tea is an added tool to have in your arsenal in fighting those pesky monthly pimples.
The many ways to use a toner
To apply your toner, you can either mist onto the skin or apply with a cotton ball/pad. Ideally you will do this after cleansing and before oils and creams.
Without the use of alcohol, a toner can also double as as face mist to freshen up mid day. This is great when you are feeling flushed or overheated in the summer time.
A toner can also be used as a light cleanser when used with a cotton pad/ball. This will remove dirt and sweat but will be more gentle then a traditional cleanser. I love to do this in the morning, when my skin doesn't need a deep clean.
How to tell a good vs bad toner?
Avoid ingredients like alcohol, denatured alcohol, witch hazel extract (made with alcohol and not to be confused with witch hazel distillate), or water as the main ingredient. There is nothing wrong with water in a toner, except that if it is the first or second ingredient listed, that is a clear sign that the product is of lower quality (water can be a "filler", unless used to make tea). Look for the main ingredient to be a hydrosol, distillate or herbal tea.
Interested in trying out a toner? Check out our Rose Hydrating Toner with hyaluronic acid + rooibos tea for dehydrated skin. We make is with 3 different rose waters, hyaluronic acid which is a very potent humectant, and rooibos tea for a boost of antioxidants. Or if you want to target blemishes and want a high dose of anti-aging antioxidants, you can try our Neroli Clarifying Toner with vitamin C and green tea. We make this toner with organic matcha, thyme hydrosol, orange blossom hydrosol, and immortelle hydrosol.