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In Rotation: Skin Toners

March 25, 2015

I think a good toner can make a world of difference in keeping the skin clear and refreshed. This time of year my skin typically goes crazy as the seasons change, however this year right now my skin has actually been getting better, clearer and feels smoother. I attribute this to a few things I’ve switched up in my skincare routine for day and night. I’ll have a roundup of cleansers and moisturizers I’ve been using, but for now today’s focus is on toner.

Today there are so many different types of facial toners on the market, each one has a different purpose. For me I have crazy sensitive skin that will react within seconds to many toners. Others will feel great upon application but then make my skin super oily within minutes. Five I have in rotation all have different purposes. You definitely don’t need more than one toner at a time although I typically have 2-3 toners on hand to rotate depending on how my skin feels.

Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Toning Lotion ($25 for 6.7 fl oz) is my most-repurchased toner. I’ve gone through a few bottles of this one. For me it’s the best everyday kind of toner if your skin is normal. It’s gentle but effective in helping clean the skin after your regular cleanser and there is a very soft exfoliating factor built in. I like that it’s good for my sensitive skin and doesn’t dry the face out or leave a film residue. If your skin is normal/combo or dry there are other toner options from Estee Lauder that you might want to check out. (There’s a gift with purchase online at Nordstrom right now in case you wanted to stock up on some items.)

Ingredients:

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The SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion ($70 for  5 fl oz) is my second most-repurchased toner. This one is on the pricey side but is another good everyday kind of toner. It contains a mix of AHA and Piteraβ„’which is unique to the SK-II skincare products. These help clarify the skin and exfoliate dead skin cells to help prep your skin for moisturizers or serums. This one is very gentle on the face and really works to clear up the skin. I had tiny little bumps on the cheekbones and this helps keep them away. It’s refreshing and it leaves the skin feeling soft. There is a slight moisture feel left on the skin after you apply it but it doesn’t feel like residue. It’s gentle enough that it doesn’t sting the skin even on days when the face is a bit tender.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate*, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Peg-150, Cellulose Gum, Disodium Edta, Citric Acid, Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben *Pitera.

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Chanel recently reformulated their Le Blanc line. I was at the counter buying the new Hydra Beauty Micro Serum and my go-to sales rep said she highly recommended the new Le Blanc Brightening Moisturizing Lotion ($67.50 for fl oz) for my sensitive skin. I have never been able to use any of the Chanel toners in the past without getting tiny little red bumps within minutes, another rep commented she too could not use any of the toners from Chanel but this one was worth trying. I gave it a shot and have been really impressed. I’ve been needing extra help in the brightening area, especially with some acne scars. This one is extremely gentle. It has a texture that is thicker than most traditional toners but still absorbs nicely into the skin with a cotton pad. It helps soothe the face and really does work to help with my acne scars. After using this for a few weeks my skin feels rebalanced and clearer. There is some hydration with this which is perfect for right now as my skin needs moisture and clarifying at the same time.

Ingredients:

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Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner ($26 for 5 fl oz) came highly recommended to me by a rep who doesn’t work for the line. We were discussing face masks and treatments to help with my acne scars. By now my chin and jawline breakouts have almost completely disappeared (it’s 97% there to clear skin) and what I have to fix next is the scars and dark marks. He said hands down the Kate Somerville toner is his favorite and that it’s designed for post-acne scars. I typically don’t like tones for acne-prone or oily skin because I find them too stripping and it ends up sending my skin into overdrive oiliness. This one is alcohol-free and has witch hazel to fight acne-causing bacteria, phytic acid to lighten skin for scars, and aloe to soothe and calm.

After testing this for several weeks I think the upsides are that it really works to calm down the skin, especially if you have redness from irritation. It helped soothe areas that were tender from dry patches and acne. I do think it’s a bit drying on the forehead for me, but it worked really well on other areas of the face. I’ve seen a difference on my cheeks and chin area with this. For toners that brighten the skin and help reduce irriration, I would say it’s a toss up between the Chanel Le Blanc and Kate Somerville Clarifying Toner. The Chanel is better suited for normal to dry skin while the Kate Somerville seems to be clearly for normal to oily skin.

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycerin, Carbomer, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Oleanolic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Methyl Gluceth-10, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Phytic Acid, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Lactic Acid, Disodium EDTA-Copper, Panthenol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Chlorphenesin.
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Last but not least is the By Terry Cellularose Hydra-Toner ($65 for 6.8 fl oz). I had used a few samples of this in the past and it comes highly recommended by a few friends. I don’t consider myself a huge fan of rose scented products but I am a big fan of the Cellularose Brightening CC Lumi Serums (review here), Baume de Rose (for lips) and the Cellularose Nutri-Baume (for a face moisturizer on dry skin days). For me to fall in love with those items even with the rose scent says a lot about the products themselves. For me the rose scent in the By Terry line is a soft rose that is wearable and soothing (at least to me). The Cellularose Hydra-Toner is their Clarifying Comfort Toner and it’s the best one to soothe skin over the entire face (not just spots). It’s designed for all skin types and I would say formula-wise this is really truly good for all skin types. It leaves the skin feeling refreshed and glowing and also works to shrink pores and remove any signs of dryness. I do think the rose scent is stronger in this compared to other By Terry products. I cannot use this in the evening because the fragrance interferes with my sleep. This one leaves the skin looking the most dewy/glowy without feeling greasy or any residue.

Ingredients:

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Good toners have helped keep the skin clear and it’s an extra step to help make sure the face is truly clean with subtle exfoliation. All except the By Terry are almost fragrance free, each has a soft clean scent that is very subtle even for my super sensitive nose. If you’re in search of a new toner as we transition seasons, I hope this roundup is helpful. I think using a good toner can really help rebalance and readjust your skin as it reacts to weather changes. Sometimes my skin just gets used to something after using a product for an extended period of time and it becomes less effective so I like to switch things up every so often. For reference, I use all of these with a cotton pad (my favorites are Cle de Peau Beaute and Chanel). In summary:
  • My everyday go-to toners are Estee Lauder Perfectly Clean and SK-II, these are good for normal sensitive skin that needs daily balancing and clearing
  • For seasonal transition, brightening and hydration, the Chanel Le Blanc is amazing, I’ve been incorporating this one into my weekly routine and I’ve been really pleased with it, it seems to be suitable for dry skin days but also works to clarify and rebalance, the skin is brightened and looks softer
  • For acne scars and soothing, the Kate Somerville is really worth looking into, although if you have normal skin, you may not see as much of a difference with this one
  • For all skintypes, the By Terry Cellularose Hydra-Toner seems the best for oily, dry, and sensitive, it will leave your skin feeling truly refreshed and glowing

Do you have a favorite toner? I would love to hear about your favorites and skin type. Do you use the same one year round or do you switch things up as the seasons change, or even on a weekly basis?

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