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What does a face toner do?

February 24, 2022

What does a face toner do?

Facial toner are often mentioned when considering skincare.  In this blog I am sharing with you my opinions gathered as a herbalist and organic, natural skincare grower and maker for 14 years.  

What is a toner?  A toner is a liquid which is used after cleansing and before moisturising.

What does a toner do?  A toner is often used for its astringent qualities.  In other words it tighten the tissues of the skin reducing the size of the pores.  Other sources say that a toner is meant to balance the pH of the skin after cleansing.  If that is the case I would suggest the cleanser is quite strong in its effect and would question its usage.  Other views say a toner removes the residues left by the cleanser.  Which makes us question, once more, the need for a cleanser which does not seem to do what it is meant to do.

From my opinion a toner is used for its astringent, soothing and/or anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. 

What is a good toner?  Often a toner is an hydrolat.  What is an hydrolat you say.  It is created from the condensation of the water created when essential oils are produced by distillation.  This means that hydrolat of any essential oil can be found on the market.  Hydrolat of rose, lavender, lemon myrtle, sweet orange, etc. The pure, undiluted hydrolat can be used as a mist spray on the face and act as a toner.

Where to buy it?  Hydrolats can be found at health food store, chemist and companies selling cosmetic ingredients like New Directions in Sydney or Escentials of Australia in Noosa.  Simply buy a spray bottle of your choice, fill it up with your chosen hydrolat "du jour", et voila.  You are ready to tone your skin.

Can I make a face toner myself?  I thought you would never ask.  Yes, you can!  It is fun, creative, easy and effective.  As shown on the picture of this blog (nice one I dare say even if I took it myself) it can be made from one or many fresh or dried herbs of your choice.

First you make an infusion.  To make an infusion, you add 1 tsp of a herb of your choice to one cup of hot water.  Let the material infuse (sit together happily) for 5 minutes, filter, let it cool off, and bottle.  It is ready to use.  This toner will keep for a few days especially if kept in the fridge in between usage.

Now it is time to look at which herbs have what effect and could be use to make such an infusion a.k.a. toner.

Here we go with information taken from two books.

One is from Sylvie Hampikian, 2007, Terre vivant, Créez vos cosmétiques bio.  Sorry it is in French.  A pleasure to read for those who can.

The second one is David Hoffman, 1996, The Complete Illustrated guide to The Holistic Herbal.

Rose:  refreshing, hydrating, calming, toning, lightly astringent, anti-wrinkles.

Yarrow: calming, astringent, cleansing, antiseptic, tonic.  Good for all skin type, particularly oily and with tendencies to acne.

Lemon balm: tonic, soothing for all skin types, particularly dry and sensitives.

Calendula: anti-inflammatory, astringent, vulnerably, anti-microbial, tonic, calming particularly for oily skin or with acne.

Thyme: astringent, softening, purify particularly for mixed skin.  It is excellent for teenager with reactive/acne skin.  A thyme toner has anti-microbial properties that will help prevent infection of the skin.

Lavender: toning, calming, purify.  Ideal for normal and oily skin.  Men benefit using this toner after shaving.

Rosemary: anti-microbial, astringent, balancing, refreshing, restorative.  Excellent for skin which is oily or acne prone.

Sage: antiseptic, astringent, purifying, stimulating, and antioxidant. Ideal for reactive skin with acne and eruptions as well as mature skin.

Feel free to try other herbs and experiment.  I would particularly like to try elder flowers, mugwort, plantain leaves, lemon myrtle, red clover, and maybe even dandelion flowers to name a few.

I hope this will inspire you to use herbs in your skincare routine and enjoy their benefits.