If you find yourself wondering if you should add a toner to your skincare routine, know that the answer to your question is not a direct “yes” or “no”. Although toners have been typically for oily skin types that need an extra cleansing boost, many of them are now packed with extra skincare benefits, like hydrating and soothing properties. Different toners have different benefits and these benefits depends on your skin type and the type of toner that you use.

Dr. Alicia Zalka, a Yale-affiliated dermatologists states that “toners are not necessary, but they can be a great adjunct to a skincare regimen for those that need help with oily skin or markedly plugged pores.Toner is something I consider a second step of the cleansing process. The benefit is that, when used correctly, it can help remove excess oils and dead skin cells that may lurk on the face after washing. To some extent a toner can help other skin applications penetrate more rapidly.”  

What do toners do?

A toner’s purpose is to do a complete cleanse of the skin and refine pores. Toners remove dust, pollution and impurities that can still linger on the skin after washing with a cleanser. Toners were originally designed to help restore skin’s pH balance, which is slightly acidic (5.5-6.5). Old styles of cleansing (cleansers like soap bars) disrupted that balance, leaving skin more vulnerable to bacteria and other microorganisms. The disruption to skin pH can lead to inflammation, dryness and over time, accelerated aging. If you wash your face with a balanced, organic cleanser, your skin might not need the pH-balancing properties of toners.

Should I forget about toner?

If you have oily skin, a toner might be a beneficial addition to your skincare routine. Many toners targeted at reducing oil and clogged pores. If you have normal, dry or combination skin, the right toner will have ingredients that create a number of benefits, giving you a quick and refreshing lift that helps repair, restore, and renew your skin. For all these reasons and more, it is recommended you make toning the second step in your skincare routine after cleansing.

Natural DIY Toners

The good news is you can make your own natural toner at home. The following are ingredients on how to make your own toner best suited for your skin type and concerns.

A green-tea toner is a great option if you have normal skin. First make one cup of green tea. Then add half a teaspoon of honey and mix well. Let the mixture cool. Once cool, add three drops of jasmine essential oil to the mixture. Pour into an airtight bottle and store in a cool place.

If you have normal to oily skin the following toners are more efficient. To make an apple-cider vinegar toner add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to an airtight container and mix in 200 milliliters of mineral water. Store in a cool place.

For a Mint Toner, boil 6 cups of water and add a couple of mint leaves to the water while it is still hot. Allow the solution to cool and then saturate the pad with the solution and wipe your face with it after cleansing.

An Aloe Vera Toner can be made by slicing an aloe vera. Scoop out the gel and dilute 2 tablespoons of the gel with 1 cup of cool water. Apply the solution onto your face using a cotton pad after cleansing. This solution can also be used to sooth sunburns and rashes.

Make a Cucumber Toner by taking 2/3rds of a fresh cucumber and chopping it up into small piece. Pour a cup of water into a pan and add the chopped piece of cucumber. Heat the pan for about 8 minutes or until the water starts to boil. Blend the cucumber and the water. Let cool and then filter the solution out using a sieve. Apply to clean face using a cotton pad.

Ingredients To Avoid

When it comes to choosing a toner that’s right for you, there are some ingredients you want to avoid. Do not use a toner that has alcohol, menthol, witch hazel or fragrance in it. These four ingredients are not good for your skin. If you do choose to add a toner to your skincare routine and you choose your toner carefully, you’ll have a product that will do the following: complete cleansing, minimize the appearance of large pores, hydrate, help with oily skin and protect.

Prevent dry skin this winter

Are you looking to prevent dry skin?

During cold weather months, there is a tendency for many of us to develop dry skin and hair. We can blame this on forced air heating, tightly enclosed spaces, and/or a tendency to drink less water. A combination of factors can result in a humidity level of 40% or less. When this occurs, we risk drying out mucous membranes, as well, which can lead to a higher risk of developing respiratory tract and sinus infections. Our hair can also become drier which can lead to more fly aways or static electricity.

Fortunately, there are a few things that we can do to prevent dry skin and hair resulting from these and other factors. They don’t require fancy equipment or expensive products, either. Here are a few tips:

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

It may seem obvious, but colder weather often results in more sedentary behavior, diminished perspiration, and a tendency to drink less water. Alternatively, we may also drink more hot coffee, cocoa, or tea which have a diuretic effect. Alcohol has the same effect. The result is dehydration. To counteract this, it’s important for us to monitor our water intake and to drink a glass of water for every cup of coffee or glass of wine that we imbibe. We know we’re adequately hydrated when our urine is the color of light straw. This can also be affected by the foods we eat and drink (e.g., beets, cranberries juice). It is merely a rough measure of our level of hydration. If we pinch our skin and it does not retract immediately, it is also an indication of dehydration. Be sure to take into account the fruits and vegetables with a high water content that can also contribute to proper hydration.

Avoid hot water baths and showers.

This removes protective oils that keep our skin and hair pliable. Use lukewarm water instead and apply a barrier balm like our Body Balms or our Dry Oil to skin and hair immediately after bathing or showering. These products contain humectants like candelilla wax (trapping moisture) or glycerin (drawing water) which serve to trap water in the skin. Just lightly towel-dry and apply products while skin is still warm and damp. Natural oils can also help to preserve the skin’s acid mantle which can be impacted by harsh detergent cleansers and shampoos. A small application to dry hair can also help to preserve its cuticle.

Buy a hygrometer

It reads the relative humidity in any room. If the humidity level nears 40%, you have dry air that can sap moisture from skin and hair. To prevent dry skin, you can purchase a humidifier. Personal steam inhalers are also becoming popular and can help moisturize mucus membranes. We are undecided on facial mists. While refreshing during hot summer months, they are primarily water, relatively expensive, and the water evaporation may leave skin drier than before.

Use a natural moisturizer throughout the day as needed.

Be sure to read labels and avoid products containing silicone and petroleum by-products. These are neither nourishing nor earth-friendly. Products containing glycerin, castor oil, olive, jojoba, argan or other quick-penetrating oil can be beneficial for skin and hair over the long term. Coconut oil, while great to have on hand, can be drying for some when applied directly. And yes, even oily skin can benefit from oils. If you are acne-prone, try grapeseed or pumpkin seed oil. Oils that don’t clog pores (non-comedogenic) include argan and hemp seed oils. Results vary by individual, so you’ll need to experiment; a little goes a long way. Hemp, pumpkin seed, argan, and olive oil tend to become rancid easily, to it’s best to refrigerate them, or buy them in small quantities.

Moisturize while you sleep.

Many find it beneficial to use a hand cream or a foot balm with cotton gloves and socks. This gives the product a chance to sink in and soften rough areas overnight.

With a little effort, you can treat your skin to nourishing oils while preventing dry skin during the cold weather months. (Disclaimer: This information is not intended to prevent or cure disease. See your doctor if you are having respiratory, dermatological, or other symptoms of illness.)