Cleansers and moisturizers are neccessary part of your daily skincare regimen, there is no doubt about that. As for toners, well, it depends. The general purpose of it is to wipe away any makeup, dirt, oil or cleansing residue after the cleanser and prep the skin for any treatment products, so they sink in more easily. There are exfoliating or oil-controlling toners that are great for oily skin. And there are hydrating toners that are great for dry skin.
The problem is that most toners for oil control are harsh and drying, not so great if you have sensitive or combination skin with dry patches. But the toners for dry skin tend to be too hydrating and leaves a moisturizing feel that might feel too stuffy on combination skin, so the products applied later doesn’t absorb as well. Well, I found 3 toners that works pretty well with my combination skin. They are ok on irritated/sensitive skin, feels weightless but leaves the skin feel clean and hydrated:
- Dior Gentle Toning Lotion
- Fresh Rose Floral Toner
- Etude House Wonderpore Toner
Dior Gentle Toning Lotion
My take: It is quite expensive at $35 for 6.7oz ($5.2 per oz) and I really didn’t want to like it. Well, I didn’t like it, I love it! The problem with most toners for dry skin is that they are a bit too thick and more of a serum/essence consistency. This is as weightless as water, the only evidence it leaves on your face is how velvety soft and smooth your skin feels. It does have a mild floral scent, but even when my skin was cracked and irritated in the harsh winter, this doesn’t hurt at all. It hydrates, is weightless, and leaves your skin softer and smoother than the other dozens of toners I’ve tried. It is definitely going to be a stable/fixed item in my skincare regimen from now on.
Fresh Rose Floral Toner
Description: Rose Floral Toner is an alcohol-free, soothing toner proven to significantly moisturize the skin for 24 hours. The cooling blend is made from rosewater, revered since antiquity for its calming and hydrating benefits, which works to remove impurities and clarify the complexion for healthier-looking skin. Ideal for prepping the skin for serums and creams, setting makeup, and refreshing the skin throughout the day.
Ingredients (from Fresh.com): AQUA (WATER), GLYCERIN, PENTYLENE GLYCOL, ROSA DAMASCENA FLOWER WATER, ANTHEMIS NOBILIS FLOWER OIL, SODIUM CITRATE, CITRIC ACID, CITRONELLOL, GERANIOL, PHENOXYETHANOL
My take: It have a nice rose scent, just like most rose water. It feels just like water on the skin but leaves it hydrated and clean. It’s gentle enough even for sensitive skin and true that it is appropriate for all skin types. However, it is NOT pure rosewater unfortunately. I’ve made pure rosewater myself before, and it made my skin incredibly soft almost better than Dior, but this is not it. If you look at the ingredients, it’s rosewater with a water and glycerin base. It is still a lovely toner, but there are other cheaper products with comparable feel/effect/ingredients, such as Mario Badescu’s Aloe and Rose water spray.
Etude House Wonderpore Freshner
Description: 7-in-1 total pore solution freshener for intensive pore care. It effectively cleans the inside and outside of pores with its special peppermint extract. This Freshner balances pH levels, makes skin pure like baby skin, and prevents skin troubles caused by pH imbalance. 7-in-1 Solution: Deep cleansing, sebum control, pH4.5 care, tightening pores, for clear skin, giving elasticity, moisturizing. It is formulated WITHOUT mineral oil, fragrance, coloring, talc, animal ingredients, silicone oil.
Ingredients: WATER, ALCOHOL, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, BETAINE, MENTHA ARVENSIS EXTRACT, VACCINIUM MYRTILLUS FRUIT/ LEAF EXTRACT, SACCHARUM OFFICINARUM (SUGAR CANE) EXTRACT, CITRUS MEDICA LIMONUM (LEMON) FRUIT EXTRACT, CITRUS AURANTIUM DULCIS (ORANGE) FRUIT EXTRACT, CHAM- AECYPARIS OBTUSA WATER, GINKGO BILOBA LEAF EXTRACT, ACER SACCHARUM (SUGAR MAPLE) EXTRACT, GENTIANA LU- TEA ROOT EXTRACT, ARTEMISIA ABSINTHIUM EXTRACT, ARNICA MONTANA FLOWER EXTRACT, ACHILLEA MILLEFOLIUM EXTRACT, GLYCERETH-26, GLYCERIN, ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN, SODIUM HYALURONATE, ACETIC ACID, DISODIUM EDTA, PHENOXYETHANOL.
My take: Despite containing alcohol and mint and the emphasis on pore/oil control, this toner is not drying at all and does not irritate my skin even when it’s sensitive from the harsh weather or after a peel. It feels just like water and have a very subtle fresh and clean scent. It helps to control my greasy nose in the summer while providing some hydration to my sensitive and dry cheeks. It did keep my pores clean (less clogged) but did not minimize it. There are also other good balancing toners for combination skin, such as Boscia Balancing or Origins United States, but this is way cheaper and have a nice ingredients list.
Conclusion: If you want a weightless toner that makes you feel clean and hydrated without being harsh or stuffy, then by all means give one of these a try. The Fresh toner is lovely, but there are cheaper options that work just as well. My favorite is Dior Toner with Velvet Peony, because none of the other 8+ toners I’ve tried so far have made my skin feel as soft and hydrated without leaving residue (only thing better is DIY pure rosewater, but that’s way too much hassle/effort). Etude House Wonderpore cuts down on the oil and helps to keep the pores clean without being harsh, and does hydrate a bit. There are other comparable balancing toners but at a higher price point. I think I will be using Etude House Wonderpore toner in the summer (I used to use Clinique Toner 2, but it’s getting a bit too drying and harsh for my skin), and Dior for the winter. Do you use a toner? any favorite?