To Tone or not to Tone...that is the question.

March 5, 2019

 

Toners. Some people do, some people wonder what's the point? and skip it. What's your take on toners? 

 

My first memory and experience with a toner was with Clinique's No.2 in their 3 step program. I can still smell that alcohol smell today and feel the cool fresh, tightening feeling it gave my teenage skin, and consequently dried it out. 

 

I was a teen, and while I didn't really suffer from any acne breakouts, I did believe in skincare and the benefits of applying stuff to my face. I'd spent years watching my lovely mum slather stuff on her face and to this day, still has lovely skin well into her 70's (sshhh) 

 

While I'm in the camp that believes we should tone after cleansing, I do also believe using the correct type of toner is key. 

 

What toner is right for you and your skin type?

Toners are used primarily to either a) further cleanse the skin of residual dirt, cleanser or make-up and as an astrignent to help tighten the appearance of pores, b) to nourish and rebalance the pH of the skin and prepare it for following products, and c) to exfoliate dead skin cells, helping to diminish sun damage, fine lines and keep skin smooth, providing a great canvas for makeup and products. 

 

So, Toners fall into three main categories - Cleansing, Nourishing or Acid (Exfoliating) 

 

Cleansing Toners would fall into the Clinique style toners. They usually contain alcohol, and they are designed to remove residual product and dirt. They may feel tingly, and your skin may feel taut and squeaky clean after. It may also feel a bit sensitive after a prolonged use, especially if you are a dry or sensitive skin type. 

Have you ever washed your face and then wondered why after toning the pad still comes off dirty... that's residual make-up and dirt that your regular cleansing hasn't gotten. 

While cleansing toners are good, drying and harsh alcohols on your skin aren't, unless you have a very thick and tolerant skin type. 

Witchhazel is a good alternative and naturally derived astringent, but is usually extracted in alcohol, so look for one that doesn't contain alcohol - Thayers do a good unscented one, but also do ones with Rosewater, Lavender and Cucumber. 

I'd use rosewater for a mature, normal/dry skin, Lavender for a sensistive skin and cucumber for a oily combination skin. 

 

Nourishing Toners are usually floral waters, hydrosols, hydrolats and they usually contain glycerine, to help give them more slip, so 

they will feel far gentler on the skin, and while they may not pick up as much residual leftover, they are more suited to dry, sensitive and mature skins. 

Some may also have a hyaluronic acid, or sodium lactate which will help in hydration, as well as glycerine, which is a natural humectant and will pull moisture from the air and keep the skin hydrated. 

Not only do they feel lovely, if they are proper hydrosols or floral waters, they will have a wonderful scent too. 

My favourites, are Rosewater, (Dry or Mature Skin) Orange Blossom, (Normal/Combo) Camomile (Dry or Sensitive) and Helycrisium (Oily or Blemish Prone). They can be found in your local health stores. 

 

Acid Toners, not to be confused with alcohol toners.

Acid toners contain AHA's or BHA's such as Glycolic, Lactic, Mandelic, Salicylic and they are used as a mild form of chemical exfoliation. Now, in saying that, I believe any mechanical exfoliation should only be done once a week. Acid toners aren't mechanical, they are toners containging a small % of AHA's or BHA's are formulated, usually at about a 5-10% strength and help slough of the cohesive glue that holds dead skin cells to the surface, provide hydration (AHA's) and keep pores clean from the inside out (BHA's). They also help with diminishing pigment from sun damage, acne scarring, fine lines and keeping the skin smooth and clear. 

If you are not used to acid toners, I'd start at 5% and work your way up to a 10% and use only once a day. 

You may feel a slight tingle upon applying which is to be expected, a tingle is good and usually goes after a minute or two, but burning is not. If you feel heat or react with redness, it's too strong for you. Either lower the % or use less often. Every other day is good to start. 

If you are using a retinol as a night time serum, I wouldn't use the toner at the same time as skin may be too sensitive. Tone in the morning, serum in the evening should be a good rule of thumb. 

 

It's also very important to wear SPF when using anything acid on your skin as you are sloughing off glue holding dead skin cells, new ones are ready to come to the surface and they need protection, otherwise you'll risk pigmentation. 

 

My Cotton Blossom Skincare toner contains Orange Blossom Water, Cucumber Extract Glycerite, Witchhazel extract, AHA Fruit Acids, Sweet Orange Essential Oil and Hyaluronic Acid. So it is partly nourishing and partly acid. Perfect for my 53yr old skin. It smells gorgeous and leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean but not stripped. 

 

Do you have a favourite toner? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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