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Toners: Are They a Necessary Part of Skin Care?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Written by Marijo Cuerrier,
Brand Manager Ste. Anne's Skin Nourishment

My first introduction to toner was in my late teens at the Body Shop in Yorkville, Toronto. I had just moved to the city and I wanted to validate that I was now grown up, so with my first pay cheque I walked into the Body Shop and asked the sales person what to do for my skin. I walked out a half hour later with a cleanser, toner and moisturizer chosen especially for me. I used Body Shop products all the way through my 20’s, even when I couldn’t really afford anything but a bar of soap. Since then I have always made sure that my budget included face care products. It was all part of becoming a woman. I loved the Body Shop products. I liked what the company stood for - a more natural approach to living, but what struck me the most was the natural smell. That was my first introduction to the olfactory world of products.

Fast forward to 2013, 30 years later and I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by great smelling products all day long. It’s funny how things work out. Enough with the trip down memory lane, let's focus in on toner!

When looking for a toner there are two things to keep in mind:
1. The physical response – what does the toner claim to do for your skin's health?
2. The emotional response – how does it make you feel when you spray it?

The Physical Response

Toner is used following cleansing to bring the skin back to its natural PH level. Many cleansers can strip your skin of natural, protective oils – leaving it dry and tight. A good toner will help to prepare your skin to receive moisturizer, sunscreen and/or makeup.

Look for water-based as opposed to alcohol-based toners. Aqua is common or, if you can find a toner with a floral water base, that’s even better. Floral water, or hydrosol, is the water that remains after distilling an essential oil. Different floral waters have different healing benefits. The remaining ingredients in a toner should be a combination of pure essential oils chosen specifically for toning the skin, such as geranium, frankincense, lavender, thyme, or rose to name a few. You don’t want to dry the skin with toner. It will make for a flaky palette to apply the rest of your daily skin care products. After toning the face should feel toned, but not tight. The only other ingredient that is used in a good quality toner is an emulsifier. This helps the water and oil mix. Without it, the essential oils will sit on the top of the water.

The Emotional Response


A spray of toner should be like a breath of fresh air, as opposed to a choking response. Each person has unique olfactory preferences. Some like a citrus scent; others enjoy a flowery scent, still others like a woody scent. The main thing is that when you spray your toner, it should bring a smile to your face – leaving you relaxed and ready to face the day. I like to spray toner on my face throughout the day. I find it not only wakes me up, but it helps me to refocus. And the added benefit is that the essential oils have antibacterial properties, so it’s like a midday mini-cleanse. Lastly, make sure your toner has all natural ingredients in it. Not only is it going on your skin, but you are inhaling it, so make sure it’s pure.