No one is more skeptical about toners than me. For years I had been washing my face, allowing it to air-dry, and then applying my moisturizer. No toner, no serum. I know, girl, I know. As a teen, I was not hip to the importance of moisturizers, so I would apply a harsh toner (containing drying alcohols and strong astringents) and nothing else, only to strip my skin, trigger the sebaceous glands to overproduce oil, and thus exacerbate my breakouts. I viewed toners as the last step of cleansing that removes residue. And even though that is a benefit, that is not its primary purpose (and shouldn’t be). Toners are intended to balance the pH of your skin after washing. Cleansers are alkaline in nature, which disrupts the natural acidity level of the epidermis (between 5-6). You will want a toner containing humectants to restore the hydration that was zapped by the detergents in your face wash. If you are inclined to use a toner with astringents and alcohols to help remove oil, I understand, but I prefer an effective cleanser in order to avoid double duty.
It wasn’t until I started seeing the benefits of using a facial moisturizer that I started reintroducing toners back into my skin care regimen. First up in 12 years is Andalou Naturals Clementine + C Illuminating Toner. I chose this toner because it is alcohol-free, full of antioxidants, and rated four out of five stars on Beautypedia.
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Juice, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Lauric Acid, Fruit Stem Cells (Malus Domestica, Solar Vitis) and BioActive 8 Berry Complex, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Citrus Clementina (Clementine) and Cucumis Melo (Melon) Extracts, Glycolic Acid, Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos), Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis and Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Extracts, Phenethyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) and Cymbopogon Martini (Palmarosa) Oils
- Consistency: watery
- Price point: $10-$12
- Packaging: 6 oz. tinted bottle with fine mist sprayer
- Longevity: six months with daily use (2x/day)
- Retailer(s): Sprouts, Andalou Naturals, and Amazon
Aloe vera and panthenol are great humectants, helping to draw moisture from the air and maintain the moisture that is left on your face before the water evaporates. Tocopherol (vitamin E), magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C), and camellia sinensis (white tea extract) all fight free radicals from sun damage, acne, and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (e.g. acne marks) while intensifying hydration.Glycolic acid is an effective AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) exfoliant that gently breaks down dead skin cells and works best when left on skin, creating a glow over time with consistent use.
After relentlessly searching the web to learn when and how you should apply a toner (wet, damp, dry) after washing your face, I was left with trial and error.
I have tried this product in every way possible.
- Air-dry halfway, spray toner on a cotton square, and wipe
- Air-dry halfway, spray toner on my face, and wipe with a cotton square
- Air-dry completely, spray toner on a cotton square, and wipe
- Air-dry completely, spray toner on my face, and wipe with a cotton square
- Spray toner on a cotton square and wipe on a wet, freshly washed face
- Spray toner directly on my wet, freshly washed face and wipe with a cotton square
- Spray toner directly on my wet, freshly washed face and air-dry
The winner was applying toner directly to my face immediately after cleansing and allowing it to air-dry halfway before applying my serum or moisturizer. This was a game changer. When I would allow my skin to partially or completely air-dry, I would try to apply my toner before feeling a tight sensation, which is an indication that it’s too late. Since I have been applying my toner to a wet face without removing it, my face doesn’t feel tight at all. I am left with soft skin that makes for an easier serum and moisturizer application. I also get the full benefits of the glycolic acid by leaving it on.
After years of having the worst experiences with toners, I am glad to say I finally found one packed with antioxidants that doesn’t burn! I do plan to continue trying different toners, but this one has set the bar with ingredients and the fine mister. Bye, press cap tops.
What are your favorite toners?