Toners have come to be considered one of the essential steps in a skin care regimen, following cleansing and preceding moisturization. But you may have wondered: what makes these water-based blends so important? Exactly does toner do, anyway?
Make no mistake: toners aren’t just meant to get your skin nice and damp; if anything, they serve multiple purposes to keep the skin looking young and feeling plump to the touch. But there is one function that stands out most: promoting a healthy pH balance in your skin.
In this article, we’ll explore the defining qualities of a serum, why pH balance is so important, and how to look for signs of a high-quality toner that your skin will love.
What Are Toners Designed to Do?
Toners are water-based products specially designed to shrink pores, clear out sebum, and restore the skin’s pH level.
This is critical because most cleansers do not have the right alkaline level, and consistent exposure to these pH-disrupting products can weaken the skin to pathogens and bacteria, as well as lead to pores clogged with sebum and oil.
Our Flower Water Toner, for instance, is formulated with hyaluronic acid and botanical ingredients to create something that is not only restorative to your skin’s natural balance, but also incredibly soothing.
For this reason, it is just as essential to use toner as it is to cleanse and moisturize, because believe it or not, your pH levels play a huge role in overall health.
The Importance of pH Balance
You may have heard the phrase “pH balance” tossed around in the skin care world, but what exactly does it mean?
Your skin’s pH, or “potential of hydrogen” is based on a scale of 1-14. This scale is determined by the potential of positively-charged ions (which are acidic) to negatively-charged (alkaline) ions. 0-6 is acidic, while 8-14 is basic, with 7 being alkaline.
The phrase “alkaline” is worth clarifying with skin care, as it is often considered synonymous with “balanced” or “correct.” In the case of skin care, we actually want our pH balance to coast more toward the acidic side, ideally between 3 and 5.5 on the pH scale.
This is important for the sake of your acid mantle, which is the protective acidic film on the surface of your skin that keeps out harmful bacteria and pathogens. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the acid mantle is one of your body’s first lines of defense!
When your skin’s pH goes above 6.5, the acid mantle’s security can potentially become compromised, and your skin can very quickly experience drastic changes.
Toners formulated with the proper ingredients will naturally restore your pH balance and prepare your skin for moisturizing. However, as is the case with all skin care, not all products are going to deliver the greatest amount of unadulterated benefits.
How to Find the Best Toner for Your Skin
Step# 1: Avoid alcohol
Before you learn about any of the ideal ingredients in a toner, there is one rule above all that you should always follow: avoid toners with alcohol--especially if it’s listed as one of the first ingredients!
Alcohol is a common astringent ingredient found in a lot of drugstore toners, and it will typically be listed as either SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol.
These alcohols often have a strong appeal, especially for those with oily skin, because of the way in which they thoroughly dry out and mattify the skin. While this might seem to have its benefits at least short term, the side effects in the long run are simply undesirable, including skin erosion, dryness, and a strain on your skin’s function in turning over new skin cells.
With this in mind, it should nonetheless be noted that there is an exception to the rule of alcohol: there are versions that are safe on skin, including stearyl, cetyl, and cetearyl alcohol. These are known as fatty alcohols, and will not cause irritation to the skin.
Step #2: Choose organic
While plant-based ingredients are incredibly beneficial in skin care, pesticides are going to put a major damper on all of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals you could be getting out of them.
Whether you eat them or apply them topically, the pesticides on produce are absorbed into your body, and this includes any and all toxins that can come with it.
It’s important to use skin care with organic ingredients as often as possible, although some are admittedly worse than others. We can give you the lowdown on the produce “dirty dozen”: fruits and veggies that should only be bought organic.
Beneficial Ingredients for a pH Balanced Toner
Calendula has been traditionally used to treat a variety of fungal infections as well as eczema, and considering that it’s a natural antiseptic, antifungal agent, the use is by no means misguided.
This ingredient is useful to have in a toner, because it will kill off harmful bacteria without harming or irritating your skin.
Lavender is, of course, a classic when it comes to herbs with soothing, sedative properties in aromatherapy. However, it is also incredibly useful in skin care. Lavender can brighten the skin, soothe inflammation, and lessen acne.
Hyaluronic acid is a fantastic ingredient to have in toner because of the way it works as a gentle exfoliant, which allows it to slough off dead skin cells, while also delivering more water to your lipid barrier, keeping your skin plump and hydrated.
Witch hazel is an astringent found in nature, and is famed for its anti-inflammatory properties. Witch hazel can also reduce acne, soothe skin irritation, and protect against free radical damage.
Here’s the bottom line: if you’re cleansing and moisturizing your face, you’d better be toning in between, since it plays such a vital role in supporting the skin. However, always make sure that your toner doesn’t contain any “bad” alcohol, and stick with organic ingredients whenever possible.
Our Flower Water Toner is a great start, as it fits the criteria of a high-quality product!