I am addicting to toning.
Growing up, I never really understood the purpose of toners or astringents. To be perfectly honest, I still don't completely understand their purpose. I think it has something to do balancing pH levels or the skin's acid mantle.
Once I started actually caring about the state of my skin in my teen and preteen years, I happily scrubbed, polished, cleansed, oil-free moisturized, mattefied, and Biore pore-stripped, but never, ever "toned." The only toners I knew of seemed to made primarily of Listerine and flesh-eating bacteria. They smelled like alcohol, tasted like alcohol, and -- shockingly -- were mostly alcohol. No wonder I didn't like them. What sane person would want to slather artificially colored rubbing alcohol on their face? However, sometime around the same time I started reading labels, washing my hair with a lumpy soap bar, and using apple cider vinegar for absolutely everything, I reexamined my relationship with toners.
Oh, how wrong I was. Toning is awesome! Whether they call it toner or not (synonyms include astringent, mist, hydrating spray, clarifying lotion, etc.), it's a great way to refresh your skin, improve the absorption of your moisturizer, and add some great, skin-loving ingredients to your routine.
The first natural toner I tried was this bad boy pictured below:
Kiss My Face potent & pure Antioxidant Toner
This was the very first clean line I tried and I was surprised to find that I liked the toner best of all. The smell was fresh and light, it left my skin feeling supple rather than overdried, and best of all, it didn't burn like the dickens, like all of the conventional toners I'd tried. For someone just starting out with the natural beauty thing, this is a great line to pick up. It's not too expensive, it's available at many grocery stores and pharmacies, and you don't have to brave things like facial oils, gommages, or superfruit serums just yet. Maybe I'll even do a post about it.
The second natural toner I tried is still, by far, my favorite.
Naturallogic Balance Facial Toner
If you take anything from this job, take this toner! It's within a starving college graduate's budget and I'm convinced that it has really done wonders for my complexion. It's got lots of fantastic ingredients like neroli, white willow bark, and chamomile. If the smell stuck around, I'd use it for perfume. This is definitely a line I want to write a more in-depth review on later. Keep an eye out.
Next, I tried this one from Arcona:
I have to say, I wanted to like this set more than I actually did. This toner in particular was a little disappointing. According to the packaging, this mist is supposed to be used in the morning to protect your skin from the elements. I tried using this both over my moisturizer/serum/makeup/whatever, as directed, and under my other products. Either way, it felt a bit cloying and left my skin sticky and shiny. Maybe it would work better for someone with drier skin or in a less humid environment, but unfortunately, it didn't work for me.
This next one only sort of counts, since it's not completely "clean."
Mario Badescu is one of those brands that uses some good ingredients, but also quite a few bad ones. I got this Special Cucumber Lotion as a sample in the mail and figured I'd give it a try. Like I said before, this stuff has some good stuff in it (cucumber extract). Unfortunately, like most more conventional toners, it's primarily water and alcohol. I found it way too drying for my skin, but it's a brand that's on the right track. Hopefully they can get rid of the harmful ingredients in their products soon.
Anyway, you got the point. Toners are great, and even if you haven't liked them in the past, try some more natural alternatives. Here are a few I'd like to check out: