DIY Skin Brightening Toner

rose water toner

The options for toners in the clean beauty market keep growing, with more sophisticated formulas popping up all the time. Toners with probiotics, hyaluronic acid, fancy mushrooms, rare hydrosols and herbal extracts… the list goes on. I love the innovation happening with natural actives in clean beauty. These tend to deliver great results, but sometimes you can do just as well with a little DIY action, and toner is a great place to experiment.

Recently I’ve had this love affair going with rose water. It is incredibly soothing and it gently tones and revitalizes skin. Rose water is naturally full of antioxidants and provides hydration thanks to the natural sugars contained in rose petals. Rose water softens fine lines, brightens skin and leaves skin feeling plush and healthy. Plus, you can’t beat the scent of fresh, soft roses. I like to decant rose water into a spray bottle and spritz my face any time of day for a refreshing pick-me-up.

While rosewater on its own makes a simple beautifying tonic, I’ve been cutting it with apple cider vinegar for a more powerful punch. When diluted properly, apple cider vinegar can gently exfoliate skin. It does so by “digesting” dead skin cells. Neat, huh? ACV has a range of skin-friendly acids, like lactic and malic acid, plus vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It also has a pH similar to skin, so ACV can restore and balance your skin’s pH and acid mantle, which makes your skin less vulnerable to environmental damage, dehydration and breakouts. Its ability to aid skin cell turnover combined with rose water’s softening properties make this toner a must-have in my routine.

Rose Water & Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

What you need:

  • Pure, undiluted rose water, like Cortas
  • Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, like Bragg’s ACV

To begin, use a ratio of 3 parts rose water to 1 part ACV. If ACV isn’t diluted enough, it can really sting. Combine the rose water and ACV in a small bottle. I like to use 1 oz amber Boston Round bottles. Shake well with each use and apply using a cotton round.

You can work your way up to a 2 to 1 ratio of rose water to ACV or even equal parts, but go with less ACV until you know how your skin responds. It’s really important to use raw, unfiltered ACV. For the rosewater, you have options. Cortas is a nice affordable place to start, but there are organic rose waters out there. I may try the Poppy Austin Rose Water next, which says it’s organic but does not have USDA certification.

I use this toner after cleansing my face in the morning and evening. It refreshes and brightens, and it’s a great alternative to some of the pricier but lovely toners on the market.

Do you make your own toner? What’s your favorite?

16 Responses to “DIY Skin Brightening Toner”
  1. Sarah says:

    This sounds perfect. I’m definitely going to give it a try.

  2. I’ve been toying with the idea of DIYing my own blends of hydrosols based on the needs of my skin. I’ve already ordered organic hydrosols from Mountain Rose Herbs. I might try ACV, but in the past I have not been that much of a fan of vinegar in my skincare. I do have alcohol free witch hazel on hand and I might add that to the mix.

  3. Silvy says:

    Oo I’ve been loving my rose water DIY toner as well!

    For rose water, I love Alteya. Then I add to it: some aloe vera gel mixed with frankincense oil; a splash of lavender water; and some myrrh resin that dissolves into it. I use this as my toner morning and night, though I’m thinking of getting something more hydrating to alternate with. Any recommendations?? I’m thinking hyaluronic acid and the like.

  4. Jenny says:

    My skin has been kinda imbalanced lately, with the crazy high-low dance the humidity has been doing and trying to incorporate sunscreen into my daily routine (my skin just doesn’t like it, I get simultaneously dry and oily, then the congestion begins…!). As a result I have been eyeing up SW Basics toner, but maybe I’ll try a little DIY first, since I already have the vinegar…

  5. Jenny says:

    On second thought, rose really isn’t my jam, but what if I used orange blossom water? Does anybody know if it would harness some of the lovely properties of neroli oil?

  6. Dani Renee says:

    After trying fancy ACV (like Braggs) and feeling pretty meh about it, I started using undiluted, plain jane ACV to wash and tone my face. One of the comments in the “throwback” ACV post suggested that all the good stuff in Braggs that is so great for taking internally may not be so good for topical application.

    I’m always up to guinea pig and I found the regular, gallon jugs of ACV from the drugstore have been working great on my skin (and hair!)

    So now my routine is:
    1.) Pour some spring water and ACV on a washcloth
    2.) Cleanse my face and repeat
    3.) Follow with witch hazel and rose water hydrosol on a washcloth (any hydrosol works – Mountain Rose Herbs has an awesome, broad selection and I like to experiment)
    4.) Oil of choice and sometimes a dab of lotion.

    I’m looking forward to trying some of the high end magic toners at some point but for now, this works great.

    Also, switching to 100% spring water for drinking and washing my face played a HUGE role in making my skin as happy as it is now (not to mention my health and energy). I’m lucky to live close to a spring now but prior to that, I was buying Mountain Valley Spring Water.

  7. Rebecca Bailey says:

    @Jenny, this is a really great Neroli toner I highly recommend:

  8. Jenny says:

    Thanks Rebecca!

  9. Michelle says:

    I cannot live without Poppy Austin Rose Water and Braggs’s ACV. I frequently take the long haul flight JFK to Johannesburg then pop flight to Cape Town- all those hrs in the air – I mist as if my life – my skin depends on it. After 17 hrs in hair I arrive at least Fresh faced. I will add essential oils -depends on my skin needs. I echo Neroli oil – awe the smell and wonders for the skin.

  10. Sara says:

    I LOVE the Poppy Austin Rose Water! I’ve cut ACV with a green tea to make a homemade toner, but can’t wait to try this mixture. Sounds lovely and combines two of my favorite things :)

  11. Lisa says:

    I just sent an email (about an hour ago) to a new customer, who is in her 7th month of pregnancy and desperate for advice for what to do for her skin, until her order of Whistler Naturals Spa Skin Care arrives by mail… and I recommended raw Apple Cider Vinegar (actually suggested Braggs) with a strong green tea, as a toner in the evening before bed, along with Organic Coconut Oil for moisturizing. Great advice!!!

  12. Gabrielle says:

    This is an incredible Neroli toner Her Rose toner is also beautiful. i gave this a a holiday present to some of my favorite people last year!

    Id love to find out about other products with Neroli. I welcome suggestions

  13. Eliza Nimon says:

    I love this idea and just whipped some up now! I currently using Heritage Store rosewater and had some Braggs ACV on hand and love both, so why not together? I must confess that I’m obsessed with the rose petal scent and that definitely gets lost when blending. With that said, I’m on a mission to banish the years of sun induced freckles and discoloration and I don’t want to use chemicals, so this, along with Yuli Cell Perfecto PM, should do the trick! Thank you!

  14. Olena says:

    What a fab idea! I’ve been toying with the idea of a natural toner, and this sounds really good. I’ve seen girls on Youtube rave about curing acne with apple cider vinegar.

  15. Carol says:

    Apple vinegar and rose water sounds great to use but will I have rosacea…will it make it worse?

  16. Kenna says:

    My go-to toner is a blend of aloe vera juice, witch hazel distillate (alcohol free) and some hydrosols of choice! Currently I am loving clary sage, rose and tea tree floral waters. For dry skin types I recommend to add a drop or two of vegetable glycerine for every 100 ml of toner.

    To brighten the skin a simple mask of equal parts honey and lemon juice does wonders (instantly).

    Zinc oxide also brightens the skin. When used in combination with clay in a mask, is quite effective. Can also be used as an overnight spot treatment to lighten dark spots, acne marks, etc.

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