If you have a great skincare routine but still have some niggly skin problems (breakouts, itchiness, redness), switching to a natural toner could be the secret weapon you’ve been looking for.
Toner used to be a harsh, alcohol-based astringent that stung like crazy, all in the name of removing oil completely and making your skin uncomfortably tight and dry. The formulas were a bit like paint stripper, giving the impression of controlling oil and helping with acne, but mostly they removed all natural oil and moisture, damaged the skin barrier and encouraged more sebum production. A lose-lose-lose situation for sure.
Toner has come a long way since then and now many use natural ingredients that do an incredible job of refreshing and rebalancing your skin after cleansing.
What does toner do?
Depending on the ingredients, a contemporary toner can perform a number of different functions within a skincare regime:
- It may help to shrink pores and visibly reduce their appearance
- It can rebalance your skin’s pH. The skin is naturally slightly acidic at pH5.5, which supports a healthy skin barrier that’s essential for a beautiful complexion. Cleansing tends to move your skin into a more alkaline state, but toner gets it back to the magical 5.5
- It can contain humectants that bind moisture, helping to keep your skin hydrated
- It might also contain glycolic acid or alpha hydroxy acids to minimise ingrown hairs after facial waxing
How to use toner
Immediately after cleansing (no more than a minute later), apply toner as per the instructions. Some manufacturers recommend using hands to apply toner directly onto the skin or you can moisten a cotton pad and wipe the toner over your face (you can now buy reusable toner pads that can be washed and reused to minimise waste to landfill). Then, you can apply your serums and moisturisers as normal. Toner can also be misted on from a spray bottle, which feels extra refreshing. A toner made with gentle natural ingredients is fine to use around delicate eye areas, neck and décolletage.
What natural toner should you use?
There’s a range of different natural products that can be used as toner ingredients.
- Rosewater is a gentle toner for sensitive skin. There are varying concentrations available, but don’t pick one that smells strongly of rose – a strong scent indicates a fake fragrance has been added.
- Cucumber is well known for being calming and soothing, plus it’s full of vitamins and minerals.
- Lettuce might be your secret to beautiful skin. It’s packed full of skin-happy nutrients like vitamins A, B1, B2, K and C, folate, manganese and so much more.
- Manuka oil is antibacterial and purifying, so helps with acne breakouts. However it can be irritating and strong-smelling, so always test carefully first.
If you decide to make your own toner, be aware that natural ingredients can quickly decompose – unless you know a thing or two about natural preservation methods. Make small batches and keep your toner in the fridge.
An easier way to go is to try the natural mist toner from Okana, which combines cucumber and lettuce for a double-hit of beneficial ingredients. Our toner is perfectly pH balanced to support your skin barrier, rich in vitamins to help stimulate new skin growth and super hydrating. To use, simply spray lightly onto the face, neck and décolletage straight after cleansing. Allow to dry for just a few seconds, then apply serum and moisturiser or night cream.
SUSTAINABILITY TIP: Using a spray toner means you don’t have to use disposable cotton pads, which is better for the environment.
If you don’t already use toner, now is the time to start
With all the benefits that toner offers, it’s time to add it to your skincare routine. If you already use a toner, but it’s made with artificial rather than natural ingredients, then try another product from the natural skincare camp. It can take up to six weeks for your skin to show benefits from a new routine, as the new skin cells roll in, so make sure your trial period is at least two months long.