Toner may seem like a new and fancy product that’s not absolutely necessary in your skincare routine but the truth is toner has been around for a while, and it actually is necessary. Here’s how your daily skincare routine begins: cleanser first, toner second. Conventional cleansers hold an alkaline pH of approximately 7+ while our skin has a natural pH of around 5. When our skin’s pH is out of balance- infections, bacteria growth, and susceptibility to disease are much more likely. This is why it’s important to include toner in your skincare routine.
After you cleanse, toner comes in to balance pH, remove dead skin cells and traces of dirt, oil, and cleanser that were left behind. But…not all toners are created equally and not all work hard to get the job done right. In fact, these conventional toners do the opposite. In this article, I’m going to clue you in on why it’s a must to make sure your toner is organic and all- natural.
Problems with Conventional Toners
Fact: conventional toners are chemical cauldrons. They contain excessive drying agents like benzyl alcohol, SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol– all which should be avoided at all costs. These harmful alcohols strip our skin of its natural barrier making it vulnerable to toxins, free radicals, and wrinkles (1,2).
You should avoid toners on the market that not only contain harsh alcohols but ones that also include horrible chemicals and preservatives like parabens, polysorbates, formaldehydes, TEA/DEA, phenoxyethanol, triclosan, and petrochemicals. Below is a list of some of the most common “bad guys” found in conventional toners.
Toners that promise to magically banish acne and oily skin usually contain a high amount of salicylic acid, which is both a skin irritant and a neurotoxin. High doses can significantly disrupt pH balance and even cause mild chemical burns and extreme dryness. While this is rare, other more common but still concerning side effects include itching, stinging, rashes, and peeling (1,2,3).
Apply a high concentration of alcohol to the skin and our sebum layer (skin’s natural lipids) is destroyed. When your sebum layer is eliminated entirely that means your skin’s natural moisture is also gone. The result is a whacked out pH causing the skin to either dry out or to overcompensate and be extremely oily. Harsh alcohols include benzyl alcohol, SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol (1, 2)
Commonly found in acne products, benzoyl peroxide is an antiseptic chemical that is meant to reduce bacteria on the skin’s surface. The problem with benzoyl peroxide is that it damages the epidermal layer and causes over-dryness or excessive oil production. The Food and Drug Administration warns that acne products containing active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide (in addition to salicylic acid) can lead to rare, but serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions or severe irritation. While killing bad bacteria on the skin is ideal for healing from acne, killing good bacteria is not what we’re looking to do (2).
What is fragrance? Well, it could be a combination of 3,000 different chemicals including carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic chemicals, allergens, respiratory irritants, and environmental toxins— and you better believe your conventional toner has got them.
Endocrine disruptors increase your risk of disease and are associated with weight gain and fatigue. Unfortunately, fragrance is a common ingredient in most toners and that’s why it’s crucial that we opt for natural toners. The best part about natural and organic toners is that they will include wonderfully scented essential oils that not only smell wonderful but also have incredible healing powers.
Parabens are widely used in cosmetics as a form of preservation. The skin easily absorbs parabens where they then make their way into the blood. One of the most prominent issues associated with parabens today is their link to breast cancer.
Parabens are endocrine disruptors meaning they create a hormone imbalance. Parabens have been associated with not only breast cancer but also fatigue and infertility. Author of Toxic Beauty Dr. Samuel Epstein writes, “Parabens’ presence in breast tissue on its own incriminates them as a possible cause of breast cancer, but they have also been shown to stimulate the growth of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells in lab tests”.
The most worrisome part about parabens presence in skincare products is that they are especially harmful to pregnant women, breastfeeding women and developing fetuses.
Phthalates are extremely dangerous and present in over 70% of personal care products, Health Care Without Harm reports. Worst of all? Most of the time they aren’t even listed as an ingredient but rather hidden behind the alias “fragrance”. Like parabens, phthalates are endocrine disruptors and have been associated with increased risk for breast cancer (4,5).
How To Find Your Best Natural Toner
The key to finding your best natural toner is identifying your skin type. Get real with your skin and then read up on the top ingredients your skin is craving.
If you are prone to oily skin, look for ingredients that help control and remove oil with all-natural, gentle astringents. These ingredients are going to work hard to balance oil production without over-drying. Look for natural toners with witch hazel, rose water, apple cider vinegar, green tea, and mint!
If your skin is always on the dryer side or it’s more mature, you want to look for an organic toner with hydrating ingredients. Think: aloe, honey, algae, vegetable glycerin, and hyaluronic acid.
If your skin is super sensitive or you experience redness you will want to look for a natural toner with calming botanical ingredients. These include: cucumber, rose water, aloe, and chamomile.
Acne Prone Skin
Do you seem to always have acne or clogged pores? Your skin will love a natural toner with powerful organic ingredients like tea tree essential oil, rose essential oil, and willow bark. Willow bark has natural chemical precursors and skin-exfoliating properties of natural salicylic acid minus the harsh chemicals.
You also want an organic toner with a natural astringent like witch hazel. These ingredients will destroy bad bacteria while putting your pH back into balance- and that is the equation for clear skin (6).
Apple Cider Vinegar is a great sidekick for clearing up scars, discoloration, and sunspots – in addition to the king: frankincense essential oil!
DIY Toner Recipe for Acne Prone Skin
This DIY toner recipe is perfect for those with acne prone or oily skin types. With a natural astringent (Witch hazel), a wonderful pH balancer (ACV), a skin soother (lavender essential oil), and a bacteria buster (tea tree) your skin will finally set itself straight. If you have normal or combination skin try this recipe and skip the tea tree oil (7).
- 3 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of Witch Hazel
- 1 drop lavender essential oil
- 1 drop tea tree essential oil
- 1 tablespoon of rose water (optional)
- Mix all ingredients together in a bottle
- You can either put solution in a spray bottle or use a cotton ball to apply to face
The Best Natural and Organic Toners
The best toners are going to be chemical free toners. They will have high quality natural and organic ingredients that will remove excess oil, dirt, and dead skin and then add moisture. All of the toners listed below will not contain any harmful chemicals or excessively drying ingredients. In addition, they are not only safe but they are also effective! So get real with your skin type and pick an organic toner you and your skin will love!
Best Organic Toner for Oily Skin and Acne Prone Skin
True Botanicals- Clear Nutrient Anti-Acne Organic Toner
Congested, clogged, and acne prone skin types: listen up! True Botanicals organic toner has both oil-fighting and super-hydrating ingredients that will clear and soften your skin. This aloe vera toner also included killer ingredients like green tea, white tea, black willow bark, sandalwood water, milk thistle, lavender and apple cider vinegar! Not only is this toner a rockstar for those with blemish prone skin- it could also be the best organic toner for sensitive skin.
May Lindstrom- Jasmine Garden Organic Toner
May Lindstrom always offers luxury products that are top notch. The Jasmine Garden organic toner is a must for those with blemish prone skin. Magical ingredients like Bulgarian rose oil, witch hazel, jasmine, and colloidal silver offer antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that will heal your skin. I personally love all of May Lindstrom products and this toner is wonderful at both calming and energizing the skin!
100% Pure- Tea Tree & Willow Clarifying Organic Astringent
100% Pure Organic Toner is a witch hazel toner that combines tea tree oil, water, neem, burdock, willow bark and rosemary which are AMAZING ingredients for fighting and preventing breakouts. Other powerful skin ingredients like algae and turmeric work to tamp down inflammation and reduce redness.
S.W. Basics Organic Toner
This is a great affordable natural toner option. With effective and organic ingredients like witch hazel, raw apple cider vinegar, and sandalwood and clary sage essential oils- you’re skin is guaranteed to reach perfect balance and harmony. S.W. Basics is also a great organic toner for combination skin.
Best Toners for Dry Skin
Annmarie Gianni- Neroli Toning Mist
This Aloe Vera Toner is perfect for hydrating dry or sensitive skin. Incredibly soothing, this toner also offers amazing ingredients like aspen bark (hello, smooth skin) and neroli essential oil (goodbye, bad bacteria). I love this toning mist because it adds the perfect amount of moisture while giving my skin the best supple glow.
Eminence Organics- Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist
Great for dry and aging skin types, this organic hydrating toner will boost collagen production. With a combination of coconut milk, coconut water, and neroli essential oil, you should expect some serious hydration. Green apple stem cells and natural retinol will plump and tighten skin. If that’s not good enough, look to the vitamin C, CoQ10, and carrot extract to speed up results.
OSEA- Sea Vitamin Boost Organic Toner
This hydrating organic toner contains antioxidant ingredients like vitamin C, seaweed, pomegranate extract that provide your skin with tons of anti-aging love. The best part is that you can also use this spritzer as a makeup setter. You really can’t beat a 2-in-1.
Naturopathica- Lavender Honey Organic Balancing Toner
This aloe vera toner works together with honey and lavender to soothe and balance the skin. Those with dehydrated skin or redness should opt for this toner. With amazingly pure and effective ingredients your skin is sure to get ultra hydration.
Now that you know all the dirty details of conventional toners are you ready to make the switch to an all-natural organic toner? Let me know in the comments below if you plan on making your own or getting yourself one of the toners I mentioned above!