This is the second and final post of my Toner series. Click here to read the first post that covers the toners that I use pre cleansing, and my current favorite to balance my skin’s pH post cleansing. I am labeling these products into a common category of “Toner”, but do realize that this is such an outdated term, and the hydrating mists/facial mists/liquid exfoliants do so much more than just “tone”. Anyway, this post covers the remaining “types” of toners currently in my rotation.
Type 3 – Toner to hydrate the skin to increase the absorption of facial oils and serums
I think this is the most common type of toner used by us beauty junkies. Floral waters, hydrating mists, etc. would fall under this category. The key function here is to hydrate the skin (lightly) and assist in the absorption of heavier products, such as the serums and oils. Typically, I look for something that’s soothing, calming and as a bonus, brightening (I am OBSESSED with brightening products). While the properties of the toners covered in this category might vary a bit, I use them all the same way – A small spritz on the palm of my hand to provide additional slip to my water based serums, and then after the application of serums but before the application of face oils, 5-6 spritzes all over my face and neck to dampen my skin first. This is really important to avoid using too much face oil.
May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden – Just like everything else that May makes, The Jasmine Garden is designed to make you feel truly special, to elevate your senses, and to make you savor your little skincare routine (you have a routine, yes?) a lot more. To be honest, this was a bit of impulse purchase from Spirit Beauty Lounge, and unlike the previous releases, I held off on buying this for a long time, mainly because I have way too many mists to go through. The essential oils of Jasmine, Damascena Rose, Ylang Ylang, Vanilla and Cacao intoxicate me (in a good way) every time I use this. This would be a great mist to use if you’re using a face oil with little fragrance (For example, Cell Perfecto PM in my case). This floral fragrance can linger around for a while, and is quite soothing at any time of the day. In addition, the mist also contains witch hazel (anti inflammatory and calming) and silver (anti microbial and a natural preservative). Although I would love to follow the official product description and spray it head to toe, the price point would not allow that indulgence. This botanical mist does a fine job of adequately hydrating my combination skin, but I’m not completely sure about the other claims around stimulation of microcirculation, or reduction of redness and inflammation, or restoration of elasticity – This is not necessarily a deal breaker for me, because expecting your hydrating mist to carry out these heavy skin related changes is a little too much. It’s really serums, face oils (and perhaps my Type 2 toner) that I rely on, as a whole, to fix my skin issues. With regards to my requirements from a hydrating mist, I can say this mist is definitely soothing, perhaps a little calming, but because this is a May Lindstrom product, my expectations were super high, and somehow, I was expecting a little more, because I know if someone can match it, it’s definitely May! At $60 for 100 ml, this is in the “luxury indulgence” category and because of that, as much as I would love to buy bottles after bottles, it is not a must have for me, since I go through toners so quickly. Also, it uses Purified Water as its base, and doesn’t seem to have floral waters or hydrosols or hyaluronic acid – some ingredients very commonly found in mists sold by other luxury brands at similar price points. For a mist that costs as much as this, I would have preferred the main base to be a floral water, a hydrosol or aloe vera juice etc. I am still very much in love with The Problem Solver mask, but the mist has left me slightly disappointed.
Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator* – With a name as revealing as this, it comes as no surprise that this mist has to be included in my Type 3 category. I have been using the Cacao Antioxidant Mask for a while now (full review to be posted soon), and was itching to try some other products from Josh Rosebrook, and this toner was at the very top of my “must have” list. I really like the philosophy behind this product, and let me quote directly from the website:
Drinking water is essential. But remember that water has to go through your entire system–all your other organs–before getting to your skin. That’s why we could all use a boost, and that’s why Josh Rosebrook Skin and Hair Care created the Hydrating Accelerator.
I completely agree. I love drinking water (it’s my favorite drink, only next to 100% Pure Coconut Water), but water that you drink is synthesized by your body to satisfy many other vital functions, and we can never underestimate the importance of moisturizing our skin topically. The addition of a host of different herbs and vitamin packed nutrients lends a very calming, herbal fragrance to this mist. The fragrance definitely lingers for a while, but doesn’t really clash with those of other skincare products. In fact, I think it further enhances the fragrance of other products and makes the entire sensory experience last longer. Similar to The Jasmine Garden, this would be a great mist to add to your overall routine if you’re currently using a face oil with very little or no fragrance of its own. I find this mist to be deeply hydrating, especially during this never ending dry, winter season. I can’t really speak to the reduction in the appearance of wrinkles since I don’t have any, but it definitely makes my skin feel very refreshed and plump. I love the fact that it uses organic vitamin infused aloe water (and not purified water) as its main base. Although it contains coconut oil (which can be comedogenic depending upon the overall composition of the product), I didn’t find it to be pore clogging. Sunflower, Grapeseed and Almond oils further balance the skin’s acid mantle barrier, helping fight blemishes and dryness. The Hydrating Accelerator has an impressive roster of other anti-inflammatory, balancing ingredients – Some of my favorites are Bilberry, Neem Leaf, Fennel seed, Calendula, Skullcap, Green Tea, Hawthorn Berry, and Chickweed. If this is not sufficient, add Plant based Vitamins A, C, E and B2 to the list. I see that St. John’s Wort has also been included, and there’s some literature around potential sun sensitivities due to this ingredient, but on further reading, it seems like the sun sensitivities might be caused when you ingest St. John’s Wort in large quantities. For a mist that has so many other ingredients, and St. John’s Wort nowhere in the Top 5, I doubt we need to worry about sun burn. All of this packed into a bottle selling for $32 (4 oz). This, right here, is great news for heavy handed people like me, and even with my heavy handedness, a 4 oz bottle would easily last 3-4 months. The website also sells a trial size (2 oz) for $20. I would say the 2 oz bottle would give you a sufficient taste for this mist, and last you about 2 months (at my rate of consumption). Although I was gifted this mist by Josh, you bet I’ll be purchasing a full size when I run out.
Andalou Naturals Clementine + C Illuminating Toner – Another Andalou Naturals toner in this series. I won’t deny, I think I’m having a little bit of love affair with the toners from this brand. They’re all so much fun to use! I use the Clementine + C Illuminating Toner for my hydration needs mostly, but sometimes, I do use this with a cotton pad immediately post cleansing (Type 2 category), to balance my skin’s pH, because it contains Glycolic and Lauric Acid to gently exfoliate. In fact, after I run out of my Aloe + Willow Bark Pore Minimizer, I might replace it with this toner to kill two birds with one stone. I also have the Turmeric + C Enlighten Serum from this range, but so far, finding it difficult to apply it consistently due to its heavier texture. But I do like this toner a lot. This is the only toner in my Type 3 category that explicitly addresses the brightening concern, thanks to the addition of Vitamin C, Clementine and Melon extracts. It also has citrus (tangerine) and Palmarosa oils. Just like the other toners from this brand, the Illuminating Toner also has Certified Organic Aloe Juice as its main base. The ingredients list continues to impress, with the presence of Apple + Grape Stem cells, Bioactive Berry Complex, White Tea Extract, that provide loads of antioxidant benefits, and Rooibos Extract, which is a natural source of Zinc to fight inflammation and protect the skin. I’ve used up about 40% of the bottle, and still can’t really form a conclusive proof around its brightening claims. This mist does a great job of soothing and hydrating the skin, and perhaps momentarily brightens the skin, but I’m yet to see any long term brightening results that I could link back to this toner. If you’re looking for a natural toner with great, quality ingredients that are hard to find even in mists that cost 2-3x as much, then you won’t be disappointed. A 6 oz bottle sells for $12.95 and will last you a long time. I got mine for an even cheaper price from my local Marshalls store.
Type 4 – Toner to re-moisturize the skin on an “as needed” basis
It might come as a surprise to you, but I stay away from misting my face with most floral waters, hydrating mists etc., which is often encouraged by MANY beauty bloggers and enthusiasts. I’ve noticed that instead of “refreshing” or “hydrating” the skin, when the water content evaporates, it steals away moisturize from my skin, leading to additional tightness/dryness. This might not be an issue if you have oily skin, but for normal/combination skin like mine, it’s definitely an issue. If I notice my skin getting dry or just needing a quick refresh, I rely on Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist to do the job. I would describe this as a liquid spray on moisturizer that looks like a milky emulsion, instead of a toner per se. It has Squalene, Glycerin, and Red Algae to moisturize and soothe the skin. After the application of my face oil, if I feel like my skin still needs a little something, this is what I reach out for, instead of slathering on an additional layer of oil or moisturizer, to allow my skin to “breathe”. I’ve reviewed this mist in an earlier post if you would like to read more.
Type 5 – Floral waters for dry clay mask application
There was a time in my life (my 20s) when I never used to apply clay masks ever, and now, I can’t get enough. I like to pair my dry clay masks with floral waters, and always have a bottle or two on standby. If you don’t have separate floral waters, you could also use your regular hydrating mist, plain water, yoghurt, etc. The only “rule” here is to really stay away from tap water due to the high % of impurities. Personally, I don’t like to use honey either because it’s thick and coats the clay with an additional layer – the detox effect of the clay is weakened. Currently, I’m using Melvita Lavender Officinalis Floral Water. I don’t think this is readily available in the US; I see one 6.76 oz bottle listed at a steep price of $54 on Amazon. I got mine really cheap from City Pharma in Paris (Make sure you go to this HG Pharmacy next time you’re in Paris!). You could also use this as your hydrating mist (Type 3), but since the bottle doesn’t come with a spray nozzle, I use mine exclusively with clay masks (so lazy, but when you have as many toners as I do, you find reasons to use them all, right?). I love lavender for its aromatic scent, and its healing properties. Lavender is well known for its anti inflammatory effects, and for calming acne, why is why I love combining the lavender water with my masks for added benefits. Once I run out of this bottle, I’ll probably not repurchase this item, since I have additional, unopened bottles of Rose Water from Sanoflore to get through. For those of you in the US, you can look into Bulgarian Lavender Water sold by Alteya Organics – USDA Certified Organic, 100% natural and comes from the fields in Bulgaria.
So, where should you spend your $$$?
When it comes to spending money on toners/mists, I don’t think it’s important to buy the high end, super expensive toners – I would rather save that money and spend it on Facial Oils and Serums, because the oils/serums are much more active, and there are really good, organically sourced ones available in the market that combine lots of amazing ingredients to deliver noticeable results for specific skin concerns. I would say it’s sufficient if you can stock up on three bottles of toners, depending upon how much your budget will allow you to spend (again, I wouldn’t go too crazy and buy super expensive products) –
- Have a good exfoliating toner, since it’s difficult to find one that’s natural and gentle, and yet provide some noticeable results,
- A bottle of thermal spring water if you live in an area with hard water – Look up USGS website to learn more about Water hardness and alkalinity in your area
- An additional bottle of hydrating mist (any floral water would do)
*Generously gifted to experience, but opinions are my own