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The Toner Debates: Do I really need one?

July 08, 2021

The Toner Debates: Do I really need one?

Yes. Yes, you do. But….. Caveat emptor.

When first asked to develop products for a local esthetician, I researched the history of cosmetic chemistry. I quickly learned that when it comes to beauty potions, it wasn’t always the chemistry of ingredients that sold products. It was lovely packaging, beautiful cosmetic counters, colorful smocks, and promises of clear and youthful complexions. Lots of promises. When dermatologists entered the arena with their own private labels attached to similar products, they added a layer of credibility to a burgeoning cosmeceutical explosion. 

To my surprise, one common process that most dermatologists would dismiss as unnecessary, was the need for a toner.  (Many still do.)  I couldn’t quite understand this until looking at the plethora of toner products. Most of them were very low on active skin care ingredients, contained drying alcohol, and were just considered a second step in the cleansing process, meant to wipe away any remaining traces of cleanser.  If that was all there was to it, then, well, a little extra swipe with a clean face cloth would be sufficient.  

It was in reaction to the toner debates that our line of tonics was formulated.  I wanted to make sure these were viewed as serious skin care because they are. I have always advocated the use of a facial tonic both morning and night because it administers essential benefits to your skin that are integral to a clear complexion and do so with a gentle touch on a continuous basis. While each tonic we offer is formulated for a specific skin care concern, and contain more or less of targeted ingredients based on needs (e.g. for blemishes, oiliness, redness, wrinkles, or discoloration) all have in common a host of skin care actives to significantly improve skin at all ages.

Abbey St. Clare toners

  • contain no drying alcohol.
  • contain soothing moisturizers, which includes organic aloe and natural hydrosols to keep skin fresh and hydrated.
  • contain organic witch hazel hydrosol, the most powerful antioxidant hydrosol that provides a host of benefits for all ages, including soothing irritations, redness, acne, wrinkles, and reducing puffiness. (This is not the common drugstore witch hazel extract solutions which contain drying alcohol.) Click here for all the benefits of witch hazel hydrosol.
  • contain a plethora of skin care essential oils for clear, smooth, and youthful skin.
  • provide a twice daily dose of alpha hydroxy acids for continual and gentle exfoliation, one of the most important processes for smooth and clear skin.
  • contain astringent liquids and extracts to minimize pores.
  • contain antioxidants for cellular repair.
  • contain anti-inflammatory actives for distressed skin.
  • removes residual surface debris from pores to allow better absorption of serums and treatment creams.

 So, yes, you do need a toner.

Hydrosols as toners. Especially for tweens and teens.

I would be remiss not to mention the usefulness of the hydrosols as toners. While these single ingredient organic distillates from nature do not contain the skin care actives as numerated above, they have antioxidant, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties of their own that make them excellent replacement toners. They are gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin. And they are completely organic from nature.

We especially recommend them for tweens and teens, especially boys, who balk at washing their face. They are simple to swish over the face with a cotton pad morning and night, leaving no residue. Several are particularly helpful for oily skin and cleaning out pores to help prevent blemishes and blackheads before they start.  Healthy skin care habits are best started early.

Orange Blossom (Neroli) hydrosol is great for oily skin, and its calming aromatherapy properties for soothing emotions benefits all ages. Gentle enough for children through seniors. (Neroli oil is one of the most costly essential oils which makes its distillate an attainable alternative.)

Witch hazel hydrosol is a potent antioxidant that is astringent (cleans/minimizes pores) and is anti-inflammatory. Useful for teens upward for balancing skin oils and clearing the complexion. This is one of the most cost-effective hydrosols with a host of benefits.

Tea Tree hydrosol and Helichrysum hydrosol are naturally powerful anti-inflammatory organic distillates for distressed skin.

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