You know that thing you do that makes you happy, but it’s not really that necessary? Like putting flavored creamer in your coffee? Or dancing naked to The Hush Sound?
That’s kind of what toners are like.
Me, I’m a toner enthusiast. In fact, there are some evenings where I’m completely beat from wrestling bears and creating five-course gourmet meals, and I’ll use only a toner to clean my face – followed by a good moisturizer. But only if I haven’t worn makeup that day (I rarely wear makeup when I wrestle bears.)
Skin experts (or skexperts), though, have wildly differing opinions on whether or not toner is necessary, as well as whether or not its beneficial for your skin. It’s no surprise, though. Skexperts rarely agree on anything.
Let’s look at why you might want to use toner, and then I’ll give you my new favorite toner recipe – inspired by the H2O Sea Pure Renewing Prep Tonic.
The Run-Down on Facial Toners
Toners come in three different forms: Fresheners, Tonics, and Astringents.
The classification they fall in tends to be related to how much astringent they include. Astringents are things like witch hazel and alcohol. The more astringent your toner, the more it’s going to dry out your skin. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, but if you have exceptionally oily skin, you might want to use a toner that’s a little more astringent.
The first classification, fresheners, are going to be extremely mild and contain some sort of humectant – like glycerin. They’re best used in a spritzing bottle, and can be used in a fine mist over your makeup, just to refresh your face and give it a little extra moisture when you need it. Remember when cosmetic companies had the bright idea to market “flight fresheners?” That’s the perfect place to use a freshener – on an airplane. If you make it past the TSA agents, I mean.
I like to use a freshener in the winter months throughout the day. Recipe? One cup of rosewater and 2 tsp glycerin, shaken well and then spritzed on the face.
The second classification, tonics, is my favorite. Here, you can include a small amount of astringent (I like witch hazel) and other yummy things for your skin. Like lavender water or rosewater. This is what I use at night if I don’t wash my face, as well as what I use right before moisturizing and putting on makeup. They make your skin feel very clean and help tighten your pores a bit.
The recipe to follow, it’s a tonic (although it could be made an astringent, if you prefer).
These are the harshest of toners, and while they do a great job of tightening pores, whisking away all trace dirt and makeup, and cleaning the oil off your face, they could cause problems for people with dry to normal skin. An astringent will be mostly alcohol or witch hazel.
If you don’t want to rid your face of all its natural oils (and you probably don’t) an astringent is effective if you use it only on problem areas and individual pimples. Occasionally, if I have a really unsightly zit, I’ll make a mask out of witch hazel, a little clay, and a drop of tea tree oil. Shrinks the blemish overnight. Sometimes, it disappears them completely.
The Milk-Inspired Toner that Doesn’t Spoil
As I was perusing the ingredients in the H2O Sea Pure Renewing Prep Tonic, my eye caught on “lactic acid.”
To be fair, I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at the ingredients in commercial facial toners, so I’m not sure if this is a standard ingredient or not. But it got the gears working in my brain.
How, on earth, could we harness the dead-skin-busting power of lactic acid and the moisturizing properties of milk in a facial toner? One, I mean, that doesn’t spoil? That doesn’t need to be refrigerated? That doesn’t disrupt your sacred closed-door bathroom time?
The answer came to me in my baking ingredients cabinet.
But you can’t combine the milk with liquid ahead of time, else you invoke the spoilage principle. So, for this really fun toner, you’ll need two small bottles for two quick and easy steps each application.
And, before I give you the recipe, let me remind you that you’ll want to buy full-fat powdered milk (not nonfat) to get all the good stuff from this toner. If you look hard enough, you can find it in your natural foods store or in the bulk bin at Whole Foods.
Here’s the recipe.
Two-Step Lactic Acid Facial Tonic Recipe
- 1/2 c. distilled or mineral water
- 1/8 c. witch hazel or vodka
- 3 drops rosemary essential oil (or, alternatively, steep your water in dried rosemary for 20 minutes and then strain)
- Full-fat powdered milk
Combine all liquids in a small bottle. Shake well. Put your powdered milk in another small container.
To Use: In the palm of your hand, sprinkle a VERY scant amount of powdered milk (I mean very – like a fraction of what’s in the picture below). You just need one sprinkle to harness the power of the milk. Over the sprinkle of powdered milk, pour a little of your liquid tonic (make sure your hand is cupped). Take a small cotton pad and soak the toner/milk mixture into it. Swipe the pad over your entire face.
For the first minute after using this, your face might feel just a little sticky. It goes away and turns into this soft, radiant, creamy texture.
It’s my new favorite thing.
Here’s a picture of two sprinkles of powdered milk. Remember, you only need to use half to a quarter of this much in your hand:
Customize This Recipe: This is a good standard recipe for people who have normal to slightly oily skin. However, you can change this up and around if your skin’s more dry or more oily.
For dry skin: Substitute lavender or chamomile for the rosemary – either oils or dried herbs turned into a “tea.” For even more moisturizing, use rosewater instead of distilled or mineral water.
For oily skin: Use 1/4 c. distilled or mineral water and 1/4 c. witch hazel or vodka instead.
You May Not Be a Skexpert, But …
I’m curious as to how you feel about facial toners.
Are they something you use regularly, or is it a step you skip? Do you have a favorite facial toner? I’d love to know what it is – so I can take a look at the ingredients for even more inspiration.
In milky-sweet-complexion crunch!