10 Natural Toners You Might Want To Try

There was a time when we scoffed at toners. Usually made from alcohol, fragrance, and other skin-harming stuff, they always just felt like another way for the cosmetics industry to get you to pay for a product that you don’t need. But a good natural toner does in fact have a purpose. Do you use them? Which?

Cleanse-tone-moisturize used to be the holy trinity of skin-care regimens. But in the past decade, beauty shoppers (and penny savers) have lost their faith in toners. Some say you don’t reallyneed to use one, especially those that strip the skin of its natural oils. (We’re talkin’ to you skin-stinging Sea Breeze.)

But a handful of new generation toners want to woo you back to the practice of spritzing your post-cleansed face. They’re using great natural ingredients that actually do something super-beneficial for your skin, like reducing blackheads or shine to boosting radiance and hydration.

Additionally, “the right toner for your skin issue acts as a catalyst for the ingredients that follow from your serum or moisturizer,” says uber-facialist Jillian Wright. Here are the 10 top toners worth trying

1. For Former Seabreeze Addicts

Pangea’s pore-tightening toner comes with a cooling feeling and invigorating scent—only it uses lime as an astringent, which doesn’t strip your skin. It’s ideal in the morning, post-workout, and even as a body spray for “backne.” Pangea Organics Facial Toner Italian Green Mandarin & Sweet Lime, $26

2. Super Exfoliating

We’d almost categorize this very active, very effective toner as a skin-care treatment. It’s great for wrangling hard-core breakouts and blackhead-dotted T-zones, as well as for anti-aging concerns, since it boosts cell turnover with lactic acid. (Not for sensitive skin.) Ren Clean Skincare Clarifying Toning Lotion, $28

3. Tough on Oil, Sensitive on Skin

This toner’s tough on oil production (thank organic sage oil and peppermint). But it’s also quite gentle on your skin because it’s blended with calming chamomile and grapeseed oil, whose essential fatty acids help fortify skin. You might not get that wow-factor tingle when you use it, but that’s actually a good thing if you have sensitive skin. Primavera Balancing Toner, $17.25

4. Antioxidant-Loaded and Firming

This four-ingredient toner contains antiseptic witch hazel and lavender water with extracts of antioxidant pomegranate and anti-inflammatory elderberry. Elderberries have great anti-aging effects, and the flowers contain tannins that help firm skin, says Zen Society founder Kaitlyn Lockman, a board certified holistic health practitioner and master herbologist. Zen Society Elderberry Toner, $18

5. Instant Shine-Reducer

Amala’s really onto something with this toner: It works on the long-term project of preventing your pores from clogging while reducing shine (thanks to rice powder and blue lotus), so your skin is left looking immediately matte. It’s great after a workout, too. Amala Purifying Toner $30

6. Balances Oil

It helps put an end to those pools of oil that form just a couple hours after you’ve cleansed your face, and it does so without drying out your skin. Small miracle in a mist.John Masters Organics Bearberry Oily Skin Balancing & Toning Mist, $20

7. Brightens

If you have spots from acne or sun damage or your complexion needs a little boost, tone with this citrus-witch hazel mist that’s also “radiance restoring.” A VitaBrightKX blend of herbal and floral extracts target skin discolorations to help even out blotches and brighten skin. Jurlique Purely Bright Mist, $34

Find the last three here.

21 Responses to “10 Natural Toners You Might Want To Try”
  1. Rebecca Bailey says:

    Sea Breeze, ugh. I remember! I’ve used (and still do, occasionally) the toners from Kahina and Stark. My favorite things, though, are super simple hydrosols. They are essential, and Evan Healy makes the best! I love getting some aromatherapy along with a little moisture and healing properties prior to using a great oil. A toner/hydrosol along with an oil are the key to using mineral makeup successfully.

  2. Jen says:

    So glad you did a post on toners! My love for a good toner began many years ago and I am still going strong! My favorite right now is the Michael Todd True Organics blue green algae toner. It is antibacterial (so really great for acne) but doesn’t dry me out because it has hyaluronic acid. Also it feels amazing when you sweep it on – like a drink of cool peppermint tea for your face! It is especially great in the summer because it has a cooling effect. Now I want to add a few of these suggestions to my ever growing toner collection!

  3. mangomadness says:

    I use witch hazel as a toner. I use rosewater to set my mineral make-up. I want to try orange blossom water.

  4. Samantha says:

    Hydrosols are great! When I used them I bought mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, but now I’ve been doing half/half organic apple cider vinegar and distilled water. Super cheap, super effective and less ingredients which is what I’ve been going for lately for my skin care needs.

  5. Michelle says:

    Glad to see SW Basics make this list! I have been using it for a couple of months now and it is greatly helping my pregnancy induced hormonal breakouts, together with their sea salt/almond exfoliant. I’ll always love my kahina toner but I have needed something a little more “active” lately while still being gentle. SW Basics fits the bill perfectly.

  6. danielle says:

    I tend to use a toner more in the warmer weather, they are so refreshing on the skin. Right now I am loving the witch hazel and hydrosols from wild crops.

  7. Lolly says:

    Funny, this list seems pretty focused on toners for oily or problem skin. Which, you know, awesome, but toners are super-important for dry skin as well, especially since they are great for helping skin oils absorb better. I have been dying to try Yuli’s Metamorphic Elixir, but am finding it too difficult to get away from my Kahina toner. I just find it so perfect. I had to go without when my latest bottle ran out and the delivery of the new one took a little longer and my skin completely freaked out. Still, I’d love to hear if anyone had an amazing experience with the Yuli toner (Cocoon sounds pretty cool, too) or another toner for dehydrated/sensitive skin.

  8. Silvy says:

    Yay for toners! I stopped using them for a long time, but I find they really do make a difference as that extra step to really make my skin look stellar. I use them now to cleanse in the morning since i don’t wash my face and also at night too to tighten my pores.

    Thayer’s rose witch hazel- quick swipe to cleanse in the morn. once a week i alternate for DermaE glycolic toner
    Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner- use at night
    Bulgarian rose water (cheap on Amazon), and Queen of the Meadow toner are two additional favorites that I sometimes buy.

  9. Dina Smith says:

    I actually just use good old Witch Hazel. Works just fine and a $10 bottle lasts about six months.

  10. Anne says:

    Ditto on the Evan Healy hydrosols! I notice a marked difference in my skin when I use a hydrosol + oil, rather than just an oil. It really balances out my skin and seems to make my skin receptive to the benefits of my oil or serum, as this article stated. I tried to cut my hydrosol out of my routine for budget reasons, but I love it so much that it has become an essential.

  11. Shawn Jones says:

    Great list. I’ve used a lot of the toners on this list but I find that hydrosols and flower waters are my favorite. I really like Tata Harper’s hydrating mist for added moisture. My favorite has to be the Yuli elixirs which are really next generation since they’re very pure and are loaded with great clean ingredients. I use Panacea which is great for my acne-prone skin but they have elixirs for all skin types that each do amazing things to help different skin types. I find that my skin just reacts to their elixir so well and unlike anything else I’ve used.

  12. Lara says:

    Its interesting you begin the post about scorning toners with alcohol and fragrance yet the list you posted includes toners (at least one of them) with those same ingredients. Why not take the time to write a new list of toners (kahina, tata, yuli, tamy fender, sodashi, etc) to try instead of reposting a months old one?

  13. Pepper says:

    I second Rebecca, Evan Healy toners are pretty awesome. I have the Rose Geranium & the Immortelle and I really love both of them (the Immortelle’s scent took a couple of days to get used to, but now I’m cool with it). These toners seem to really help my dry, slightly acne prone skin and make a good base for serums & oils. My husband has combo skin and is using the John Masters Bearberry toner and he really likes it. I also really like Kahina’s & Stark’s too!

  14. Ally says:

    I’ll admit skipping toners, often. I love them, but when I think about which skincare expense I could cut, it’s always this one. I love how Caroline Hirons talks about toners, she says they’re like the condiments on a sandwhich – binds it all together and helps facilitate the process. I fell in love with Pai’s bioAffinity toner, but I run through it so quickly that it’s way too expensive to justify for a toner. Lately I’m back with Suki’s toner, which smells divine…

  15. Brooke says:

    my favorite has to be the cocoon elixir from yuli. i find that a lot of toners make my skin dry so i felt they were not necessary but then i tried cocoon and it made a huge difference in my skin. it is very soothing and hydrating which is perfect for my sensitive skin. they’re probably not on this list cause i know they don’t really do press but their products keep me hooked.

  16. Rebecca Bailey says:

    @Ally, I love the Pai toner too (lotus & orange blossom) – and agree it is too expensive for what it is! I buy it as an occasional treat if I can get a deal on it.

  17. Stephanie says:

    In agreement with Rebecca – Evan Healy’s hydrosols rock! I have tried several and am currently hooked on the lemon thyme. It has wonderful antibacterial properties to help with breakouts. I also love the Weleda refining toner (different from the Weleda cleanser/toner on this list). It has lemon and rose and I use it on my jawline and upper neck where I used to be super broken out and this has totally healed – and prevented- those breakouts!

  18. Josefine says:

    I always make my own toner by diluting ACV with some water. Smells funny but it works great!

  19. Anna says:

    ACK!!!!! That Ren one looked super awesome until I saw PHENOXYETHANOL!

    [backs away slowly] NOooOOOoooOOoo!!!!

  20. Dylan says:

    I definitely don’t understand what toners are for

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