To Tone or Not to Tone?

Toners are lotions or washes designed to cleanse the skin and temporarily shrink pores, usually used on the face. They are also known as clarifying lotions. A lot of skin specialists dispute whether toner is actually necessary, and prefer to use plain water instead.
Toners can be applied to the skin in different ways:
    * On damp cotton wool. (Most frequently used method)
    * Spraying onto the face using a vaporizer – Most toners are available in spray bottles these days. If you can’t find them, just buy a small empty spray bottle to transfer and use.
Users often apply moisturizer after toner. It is best to apply the moisturizer while the skin is still damp with toner for maximum effect.
Skin bracers or fresheners
These are the mildest form of toners; they contain virtually no alcohol (0-10%), water, and a humectant such as glycerin. You can very easily make this at home itself by adding a few drops of glycerin to plain rose water. Humectants help to keep the moisture in the upper layers of the epidermis by preventing it from evaporating. A popular example of this is rosewater.
These toners are the kindest to skin, and are most suitable for use on dry, dehydrated, sensitive and normal skins. It may give a burning sensation to sensitive skin.
Products to try: Fab India has a variety of these – rose, lavender & orange waters, and I have heard good reviews for them. Haven’t tried them as yet though.
I personally like and use AromaMagic Skin Toner that has Extracts of Rose, Lavender, Peppermint, Sandalwood and pure essential oils of Witch Hazel, Juniper, Basil & Tea Tree. (read about it here)
Biotique has two interesting toners – Cucumber water for normal to oily skin and Honey water for dry skin.  I have used Cucumber in the past and found it to be just ok.
Other brands include Dabur Gulabari, Aromaz, Khadi, and a whole host of other products
Skin tonics
These are slightly stronger and contain a small quantity of alcohol (up to 20%), water and a humectant ingredient. While they are suitable for use on normal, combination, and oily skin I would suggest you refrain from using anything with alcohol in it.
These are the strongest form of toner and contain a high proportion of alcohol (20-60%), antiseptic ingredients, water, and a humectants ingredient. These are commonly recommended for oily skins as they are drying, but note that the removal of oil from the skin can lead to excess oil production as the skin tries to compensate for this and prevent moisture loss. To prevent dehydration, astringent is best applied only to problem areas of skin, such as spots. Clean & Clear makes a toner like this for oily skin.  Unless the dermatologist suggests you use these, I would stay away from them.
Special Activity Toners
Ok, this is a category I invented for all those toners that claim to do more than just clean and shrink pores. Ponds have an entire range of this right from their Age Miracle Toner to the White Beauty Detox Toner (which they claim has key ingredients like Vitamin B, and “motivational ingredients” like Vitamin C (I wonder whose motivation that is for – the skin, or for us to part with our money)), and so does The Body Shop – Tea Tree Toners, Vitamin E hydrating toners and so on. Garnier too has skin lightning toners as well as others for deep cleansing.
Aroma Magic has the papaya de-encrustation lotion and the fairy lotion (which is not very nice, read review here)
These are the latest generation of toners with added benefits, and quite a lot of them are very effective and nice.

Here are some nifty toners you can easily make at home (if you don’t like the store ones).
1.      Vitamin Enriched Toner: Take 5 ml of regular water (or rose water), add a drop of glycerin, and dissolve one tablet of Celin (Vitamin C) – 500 mg(you can even substitute this by instead adding 1-2 drops of lemon or orange juice), and a drop of Vitamin E (if you have very dry skin – I generally skip this).
            Apply all over face using cotton. Discard excess. Prepare fresh each time for use.
Please note that the addition of Vitamin C tablet makes this toner a little acidic, as a result of which it may cause stinging on sensitive skins.  I use this twice a week since the last one year and have had no problems.
To read about the benefits of Vitamin C on the skin go here
2.      Cucumber Toner: For quickly refreshing your skin, grate a cucumber. Then use a wash cloth and apply the cucumber juice to your face. Cucumber juice is a natural astringent. It can tone and tighten skin! For extra salady flavor, you can even add a little bit of tomato juice. 

3.      Watermelon Toner: I love this toner, only I love to eat the fruit more and never seem to be able to save any for applying to the face. This is real easy – peasy. Just take a spoonful of the juice of watermelon and dilute with equal amount of water before apply to the face. 

4.      Green tea Toner: filled with antioxidants, this also lasts up to 10 days if kept chilled. Just add a bag of green tea to hot (not boiling) water. Let it simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and use.


  1. Watermelon toner sounds interesting and since it is my fav fruit, i am gonna give it a try. I lurve my Fab India facial sprays and I keep waiting for them to get over soon that that I get to buy new ones. :P

  2. @ Rati: Yea, the watermelon one is nice. It has lots of Vitamin A too :D

    I read yr reviews of Fab India toners and have been wanting to try them. Unfortunately the store is very far from my home, so never able to build up the motivation to go shopping all the way for just a toner. :D

  3. My dad is coming to Mumbai (KALYAN). I want to buy empty small spray bottles (not of barber style). What should we tell the shopkeepers? Easily available everywhere or specific place?

    What is washcloth? After spraying toner i don't want to use cotton. It sticks to my shaved face. Any substitute?

    Any special thing i should tell him to buy?

  4. I have used Aroma Magic's Toner (I guess it was ok). Then I used Lakme's Matte Effect Astringent (it was terrible and too fragrance-filled and had to go down the bin). Then for a year or two, I just used plain rose water as my toner, and it seemed to work well. Nowadays, I use the Himalaya Lemon and Jasmine toner; it's really relaxing; I guess I like it. I am planning on trying a few pore-minimizing toners in the future though.

  5. I used Dabur Gulabari but it causes my skin to breakout though I have normal to dry skin and felt really sticky and weird on my skin...


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