the bottom line
Toning is the next step in your routine after cleansing and before moisturizing. What it is, why to use it, and how to do it.
WHAT IS A TONER?
A toner is a water-based liquid which is typically loaded with good stuff, like rosewater, chamomile, and aloe vera, so you can select something perfect for your skin type. Toners are made of some of our favorite ingredients, including hydrosols (a flower water), botanical extracts, a humectant (such as glycerin, to keep the product moist), and a preservative. They can be are spritzed on the face as a mist (frankly not our first choice in the morning before coffee), or poured onto a cotton pad and very gently smoothed across the skin.
WHY SHOULD I USE A TONER?
We have a few excellent reasons:
- When you cleanse your skin, the pH may change. Toner will rebalance your skin’s pH back to a normal level of 4.5-6.
- Toner will pick up anything left over from your cleanse, including excess makeup and oil.
- Last but not least, it will prep your skin for all of the goodies that come next, such as a serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
WHAT TYPE OF TONER SHOULD I CHOOSE?
We have our own opinions about toners, but there are a few important things to consider.
1) First, does the toner contain alcohol or witch hazel as its main ingredient? These will suck the moisture out of your skin faster than a thirsty vampire (that analogy doesn’t really work, but bear with us). Read the label: if organic alcohol or benzyl alcohol is listed towards the end of the ingredients, it’s ok; these are sometimes used in very small amounts to help with preservation.
2) Second, are there are high amounts of glycolic or salicylic acid in your toner? These are great if you are fighting a nasty acne breakout but are generally not intended for daily use as they can irritate delicate skin.
3) Finally, make sure that there is a preservative in your toner! This is a water-based product, and it needs a preservative to prevent growth of bacteria and fungus. This is non-negotiable. Nothing makes us crazier than seeing an unpreserved toner on the internet or a store shelf. If it was made yesterday and you plan to store it in the refrigerator and use it within one week, that’s fine, but otherwise, it’s frankly irresponsible for a brand to release an aqueous product without protection. Look for names such as gluconolactone, sodium benzoate, salicylic acid (in small amounts), benzyl alcohol, glycerin, sorbic acid, or phenoxyethanol at the very end of the list of ingredients. Parabens are also very potent preservatives but they have fallen out of favor secondary to health concerns.
HOW TO USE A TONER:
As we’ve mentioned, toners come in two flavors: spritz or pour. Whichever one you choose, use it twice daily immediately after cleansing. (We’ve already discussed the importance of cleansing twice daily…) Your skin doesn’t need to be soaked, just moistened. Follow immediately with your selected serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen (if it’s early in the day). Once you’ve found your perfect toner, commit to it. Use it twice daily and see if your skin loves it as much as you do.
SHAMELESS PLUG: Anokha® makes one fairly spectacular (if we may say so ourselves) toner.
Anokha® Lotus Flower & Rosewater Toner includes rosewater, a source of beauty remedies used for centuries to tone the skin and provide an astringent effect; sacred lotus extract, prized for its soothing and astringent properties; burdock root, with its antimicrobial properties; and gotu kola, an incredible anti-inflammatory which stimulates collagen, treats burns, and according to scientific studies facilitates normal scar healing. That ahh feeling, bottled.
All this and more at www.anokhaskincare.com .