The Evolution of Toners

In the past, toners were formulated with alcohol to play an important role in pore-shrinking, tightening and maintaining ph balance making skin less prone to oiliness and infection. For me, toners took a backseat because I don’t have oily and/or acne-prone skin; kind-of-a nonnecessity to my skincare regime. But a recent phone conversation with a leading organic skincare brand manager had me rethinking about my take on toners.

Toners have always been sold as astringents. The quick-drying ability of alcohol gives a weightless finish on skin making it a great sell for people with oily skin. Alcohol has two primary benefits that reasonably appeals to people with oily and/or acne prone skin. It kills acne-causing bacteria on the skin’s surface, as well as de-greases oily skin giving instant gratification for someone with super oily complexion.

Unfortunately, it is a double-edged sword. While  there might be a temporary feel-good effect from less oil on skin, toners (with alcohol) have been found to actually increase irritation and dryness. The irony is prolong use of alcohol-based toners damages the skin’s natural protective barrier leading to the increase of acne-causing bacteria and inflammation. This causes red acne marks and patches to stay on for a lot longer than they should.

The good new is all that is passé. The bad reputation of traditional toners have seen a huge change in the toner world. Today, new age toners are multi-functional, formulated without alcohol, infused with new ingredients and come with a deeper understanding of modern skincare. They not only remove cleanser residue, balance out the skin’s PH and tighten pores, toners also prep the skin for other skincare products.

Skin is like a sponge. A wet sponge have better absorbancy than a dry sponge. Toners prep the skin with a hydrating layer allowing your serum and moisturizers to soak right into the skin. This maximizes product penetration so you only have to use less of a good thing. Also, makeup sits more evenly on toned skin.

While toners are generally great for people with oily skin, dry skin suffers like me no longer have to shun away. It turns out the new evolution of toners have some designed as humectants which binds moisture giving a boost to our skin’s hydration.

There are many toners in the market for different purposes. It is important to always read labels and choose the right toner for your skin type.

Ingredients to Look For

Hyaluronic acid: This acid is able to draw moisture into skin layers and retain water many times its own weight.
Tocopheryl acetate: Known as vitamin E, this is a powerful anti-oxidant that promotes overall healing of skin health.
L-ascorbic acid: The most stable form of vitamin C in skincare that treats skin discoloration from acne scars and sun damage.

In most organic formulas, these ingredients are plant-derived or fruit-derived.

Ingredients to Avoid

Alcohol: Steer away from pure alcohol. An exception to this rule is fatty alcohols such as cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol that are emollients with moisturizing effect to skin.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate: This is a foaming agent that dries out skin.
Petroleum: Any petroleum-based ingredient that claim to moisturize skin when it actually forms a layer that sits on the skin restricting skin pores from breathing.

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