Skin toners take center stage in the race for better skin
What is a toner, and is it really good for the skin? These are two questions I am often asked by my clients.
I believe the reason for this is that many still associate toners with the basic, floral-infused rose waters of the past, but the new generation of toners in the form of facial mists are highly-evolved forms of these and anything but simple.
And like many questionable decisions of our past, when we used to apply the strong astringent toners on our skin in a bid to make our skin glow, it’s easy to point an accusing finger at alcohol – our adolescent use of astringent toners that would strip our skin of vital moisture and ultimately turned a generation against the vital post-cleansing step.
But toning the skin is an important step, and fortunately, the tide is turning and water-like textures – including hydrosols and essences in Asian skincare routines – have grown up and rebranded with more effective ingredients like peptides, humectants, lipids, and antioxidants.
A good toner will also neutralise your skin’s pH balance after it has been cleansed, and have a pH value of between 4.0 to 5.5.
What exactly can a toner do?
Protect, hydrate, exfoliate, brighten, and deeply cleanse all in the swipe of a cotton round.
A post-cleaning toner will prime the skin for the applications of your hydrators, serums, and moisturisers. Because the formula is light, the molecular structure is smaller in weight, therefore the ingredients are more likely to penetrate into the deeper layers without leaving any film or residue.
Toners essentially prepare the skin for nourishing ingredients, which it does by opening the skin’s receptor sites so that the cells receive the full benefit of any serums or moisturisers that follow.
Ingredients used in toners for dry skin
For those with dry skin, toners help to nourish the skin and normalise hydration levels.
Between skin cells are a form of mortar known as intercellular cement, which is made up of natural lipids.
Skin-identical ingredients that include valuable lipids, humectants, and hydrating agents within a toner formula, helps to create our natural skin moisturiser; preserving water in the skin’s tissues whilst also maintaining the skin’s barrier.
Fortunately, science has been able to isolate a number of these specialised ingredients, which help to create synthetic versions of intracellular cement lipids – these include sphingolipids, cholesterol, and linoleic acid, which comes from various botanical sources, these lipids can also be derived from plant sterols, such as Soya Lecithin.
Our toner Elixir has been specifically formulated to help balance the skin through lipid replacement, they are mixed at a ratio of four parts ceramides; We find this ratio helps to patch an impaired barrier.
Toners for dehydrated skin types
Dehydrated skin lacks water in the surface layer of the tissues, to combat this problem we include humectants in our toners which attract water to the epidermis, locking moisture in the top layers to prevent the skin from drying out.
Humectants, combined with lipids bind water in the spaces between the cells and work like tiny magnets to attract water, giving parched skin that all-important moisture.
Toners for daily shine
For oily, combination skin folks, toners help to open pores and balance lipids
Many commercial toners for this skin type are formulated with ingredients that are too astringent; they strip the skin of its valuable oil, which is a double-edged sword because when skin loses its oil it goes into overdrive to produce more oil. The article on soap and how it affects the pH of the skin does a great job of explaining this topic in more detail.
If you do have an oily skin type, opt for toners that are formulated with gentle, natural ingredients, that won’t strip valuable lipids from the surface.