Ask many of our Skin Therapists and they would tell you that the two most important things you can do for your skin are to regularly put on SPF (every day! even when it is cloudy!) and to make sure that you cleanse properly.
But cleansing properly doesn't mean just using a cleanser, it can also include using a toner. So okay, maybe it really is three things to focus on. But it's worth it, we promise.
Hydrating and nutrient-rich, toner can be an effective addition to your daily routine, situated right in between cleansing and moisturizing. To give you the 101, it is a water-based liquid that can be packed with a variety of ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile, so it can be adapted to different skin types. Toners usually come in two forms – one is a bottle of liquid that you apply with a cotton round and swipe across your face, a la the Ursa Major 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic. The other form is a spritz-able mist like the Lavender Honey Balancing Mist from Naturopathica.
The reason that this step comes after cleansing, as opposed to before, is that when you cleanse your skin, you can actually change the pH of your skin. It's okay – it's natural and sounds scarier than it is. Toner will help rebalance this pH. For reference, our skin is naturally acidic and it's pH level should often be between five and six out of a scale of 0-14. Anyway, toner does a great job of cleaning up anything — including leftover oil and makeup debris – that your cleanser might have missed. Someone on our team said "I think of it like a Zamboni for my face." And yes, that is a hockey reference you just read. For non-hockey fans, think of it this way, "toner dissolves and softens up everything in your face, including blackheads," our Skin Therapist Gregory says. "Toning to me is critical."
He's not wrong because toner also allows your skin to soak up whatever you put on after you finish cleansing. Whether it is a super-hydrating moisturizer, like the Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream, or a serum like the Ageless Total Pure Hyaluronic Filler from Image, toner may help your skin soak that up, straw-style.
So how do you find a good toner? Look at the first five ingredients on the bottle. 80% or more of the product will be in the first five or six ingredients so you want to make sure that they align with the needs of your skin.
Then you have some decisions to make from there. One of the first decisions to make is if having alcohol in your toner is right for you or not. There is more than one school of thought on alcohol-based products. The benefits of alcohol are that it will dry out skin that is prone to oil and it has anti-bacterial properties. But this isn't great for those who are already dry, for obvious reasons. The benefits of an alcohol-free option is that it is burn-free and won't dry you out, making it safe for almost anyone's skin. A second choice is the acidity of your toner. The benefits of acid inclusive toners is that it will help with an extra kick of exfoliation and can help lighten pigmentation.
If this sounds a bit overwhelming, come on in or email us and we'll help you pick out the right option. For starters, Gregory's favorite is the Balancing Toner feat. Rose Absolute, Ginseng & Chamomile from Grown Alchemist. And an important tip? Once you've picked out what is right for you, use it diligently. You don't want to confuse your skin and you want to give yourself enough time to see if it's working for you. So let's chat and get your cleanser its BFF!