Hello! Lylysa here and if you’re back after reading part one of my guest post where I covered cleansers and cleansing tools, welcome back! If you’re just joining in, this is part 2 of my collaboration with ChicDabbler on her great blog where I’ll be covering what can go into and comprise a skin care regimen, so without any hesitation, let us jump right back into things by delving into the world of toners, facial mists, and essences!
The word “toner” today can seem a bit dated as more and more skin care discoveries are made, traditional toners seem like a step that’s been left in the dust and evokes imagery of formulas that either stung the skin, smelled grossly of alcohol, or were strictly for problematic skin types. Toners were originally used after the cleansing step to restore and bring balance back to the pH of skin (in my cleanser post, I mentioned how the pH of older bar soap formulas weren’t created in tune with the skin’s pH, so toners were supposed to facilitate that adjustment). Today’s cleansers have come leaps and bounds and are much more gentle and tend not be as disruptive on the skin’s pH, so toners gradually took a backseat to the rest of skin care steps. Toners have never been phased out entirely, and in fact, still most certainly exist and definitely have found their niche with specific consumers who find particular formulas do well for their skin and play well with the rest of their skin care products.
Toner formulas typically contain astringent properties which means it will help with constricting cellular tissue. This aspect lends a hand greatly to those who may find enlarged or visible pores a concern, or for those with oily skin. Perhaps the most popular astringent ingredient found in toners is witch hazel. Witch hazel also has natural anti-inflammatory properties, which is beneficial in calming redness and thus typically found in toners for oily and acne-prone skin to pack a two-part punch in controlling oil release and soothing the irritation that may accompany blemishes.
Remember in the cleanser post how “sulfate” was the word that raised alarms? Toners have a red-flag word as well……Wait a second! Not the alcohol found in bars and served up to drink!
Alcohol, while prevalent in an assortment of health and body care items, tends to be most noticeable in the toner realm and many formulas tend to showcase it within the first few ingredients listed on packaging or the formula itself may just instantly give off a strong alcohol scent. Alcohol in skin care is generally used to boost the dry-down of a product, and in a liquid toner, this allows it to evaporate from skin quickly so you can move onto the next skin care item without having to take too much of a break in-between steps. While time-saving qualities are always a bonus, the harshness of alcohol on the skin can cause some backlash in that it may eventually dry it out and lead to skin feeling tight, uncomfortable, craving moisture, and even causing oil glands to kick it into high gear to compensate for how dry the skin feels (which is quite counterproductive to a toner formula working to regulate oil release in the first place).
The silver lining for alcohol is knowing and learning which types are actually beneficial to skin and serve a healthy role versus just being present for convenience in dry times—
Ethanol, SD alcohol, alcohol denate, propanol, propyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol are all drying in excessive use and should be avoided if possible.
Lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, steraryl alcohol, cetearyl alcochol, and behenyl alcohol are all skin-friendly, fatty alcohols that provide humectant qualities to help draw moisture to skin from the atmosphere.
Toners that don’t focus on astringent properties and instead opt to infuse skin with hydrating and conditioning ingredients can fall into a more generic sub-category such as facial mists or sprays. These formulas are more about “putting back into” the skin versus “clarifying and purifying” and can be used by a wider array of consumers that may not necessarily wish or have to focus on oil regulation or blemishes. These conditioning formulas can also have a more milky or fluid lotion-like quality. Facial mists can be great to incorporate if skin just needs a subtle boost in hydration and add an overall refreshing quality to your routine. A huge benefit of conditioning formulas is that you really can’t over do it, so if skin ever feels tight, dull, tired, or just in need of a pick-me-up at any point of the day, you can give a quick spritz (even over your make-up, just be sure to spray at least 8 inches away to prevent over-saturating skin) to revive skin and even your mood!
Toners and facial mists or sprays can be applied in a host of ways. If the product is packaged in a bottle that requires it to be poured or squeezed out, then it can be dispensed on a cotton pad or round and wiped along skin’s surface (creamier formulas tend to best be wiped or patted along skin versus sprayed as it may be too thick for a spray bottle). Formulas come packaged in spray bottles can be misted onto skin directly and then gently patted or smoothed down with clean fingers or hands, or if you prefer to spray the product onto a cotton pad and wipe down, you certainly still can. If you do settle on incorporating a toner or facial mist into your regimen, pick a formula where the ingredients cater to your skin type, concerns, and needs without being harsh or stripping and apply it in a manner that you prefer and feel most comfortable with. Be sure that whichever formula you pick you are also taking into account the products actual usage instructions. Toners and facial mists should not be applied heavily to the direct or immediate eye area, so avoid wiping too closely along this region as well as practicing misting safely to avoid the bulk of the mist from landing on the eyes.
While toners have long been in the skin care world, a newer component is quickly garnering notoriety and that product will be essences! Essences, while quite popular in Asian countries and skin care regimens, are now being introduced to a growing American public that is hungry for more in the skin care world. Essences, in their truest, by the book, form will not contain drying alcohols (something to keep in mind while exploring formulas) but instead will have most likely fermented ingredients such as yeast, rice, and ginger. The fermentation process gives a boost to amino acid and enzyme production which in turns speeds up cellular turnover for smoother and healthier skin. An essence won’t be quite as potent as a treatment, while it will contain nutrient-rich ingredients, so think of it as a diet-serum formula. Using an essence may be a happy bridge from using a facial spray and treatment if you may have neither step covered but may be looking to explore creating a more invested regimen without being too dedicated to having a separate toner/facial mist and treatment/serum as it. Another aspect of an essence is a big focus on hydration with humectants and emollients to really key into moisturizing skin and making it soft and supple. Essences have a slightly heavier-bodied fluid texture, so it can be lightly patted or gently massaged onto skin which in turn gives the application a more soothing, spa-like quality. Since these formulas do focus so much on hydration and conditioning, essences may immediate cater better to drier skin types, but it doesn’t make them exclusive. If skin may be oily, combination, or even normal, exploring and utilizing essences may even allow for you to take it easy and sport a lighter-weigh moisturizer formula.
Keep your eyes open for part 3 coming up where I’ll go over treatments and serums!