PUBLISHED: 05/02/2018 | LAST UPDATED: 01/17/2020
An organic toner is a fantastic addition to any skin care routine. Everyone from renowned dermatologists to Korean K-Pop stars are touting the transformative benefits of adding a toner to your daily skin care arsenal. Toners are essentially liquid moisturizers that are applied after cleansing and before you apply your normal skin care routine (like serums, moisturizers, and treatments). They contain tons of beneficial ingredients like antioxidants, humectants, exfoliants, and anti-inflammatory agents which penetrate the skin where they add hydration while removing dead skin cells and excess oil. They are also great at clearing clogged pores and making large pores appear smaller as a result. By creating a smooth, clean, and hydrated surface, natural toners actually increase your skin’s ability to accept the beneficial properties of your other skin care products. Additionally, toners can help to balance out oil production by restoring your skin’s pH after cleansing. Typically, your skin is fairly acidic and boasts a pH of about 5-6. Cleansers tend to be alkaline and can alter your skin’s pH. This causes your skin to overproduce oil in order to regain its original pH. By using a toner immediately after cleansing, you can instantly bring your skin back to a happy pH range.
Now, you may have heard some bad things about the toners of the past, but toners have come a long way from those days. Previously, mainstream toners contained a ton of alcohol. Alcohol was once touted for its astringent properties. An astringent is anything that causes the skin to tighten and contract by removing natural oils. For this reason, strong astringent toners were popular amongst those with very oily skin. While alcohols were great at removing oil, they were also quite damaging on the skin. The alcohols would dry out the skin and erode the skin’s surface—making it harder for your skin to retain moisture in the long term. Today, many of the best organic and natural toners do not contain harmful alcohols. Harmful alcohols include SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, benzyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohols. If you find a toner with these ingredients, then it’s best to stay away. However, not every alcohol is necessarily bad for your skin. Fatty alcohols like cetyl-, stearyl-, behenyl-, and cetearyl alcohols are derived from vegetables, are non-drying, and have emollient properties which are beneficial for the skin. Additionally, some organic alcohols in small quantities (like organic vodka or brandy) can help to brighten the skin and fight acne without causing damage.
When it comes to choosing the best natural toner for your skin type, there are definitely a lot of choices. Oily skin types will want to look for a toner with natural + gentle astringents like rose water, witch hazel, mint, apple cider vinegar, and green tea. These ingredients will help to remove and control oil production without drying out the skin. Those with acne or clogged pores will benefit from an organic toner with natural salicylic acid (like willow bark), antibacterial ingredients (like tea tree oil and rose oil), and natural astringents like witch hazel. Dry and mature skin types will want a natural toner which adds a ton of moisture with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, honey, aloe, vegetable glycerin, and algae. Lastly, those with sensitive skin or redness will want to look for calming botanical ingredients like aloe, chamomile, cucumber, and rose water. A truly great organic toner will contain a nice combination of all of these ingredients and be gentle enough for all skin types. Want expert help finding the best natural toner for your skin type? Then, check out The Ox Box! Each quarter, we’ll put together a box filled with premium organic skin care products hand-selected for your specific skin type and skin conditions.
In summary, a great organic toner should 1) contain high quality natural + organic ingredients 2) not contain any harmful alcohols or excessively drying ingredients 3) add a ton of moisture with beneficial ingredients 4) prep the skin by removing excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells 5) of course, never ingredients such as denatured alcohols, parabens, phthalates, formaldehydes, ethoxylated ingredients, polysorbates, phenoxyethanol, petrochemicals, triclosan, TEA/DEA, synthetic fragrances and colors.
To help you on your search for the perfect toner, we put together this list of the best 28 organic and all-natural toners that we could find. We painstakingly researched each product, its ingredients, and its effectiveness to ensure that only the highest quality products made the list. You can sort this list by skin type, price, and whether the product contains any alcohol (even the good alcohols). Enjoy!