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Toner tends to get a bad rap in the skincare realm, mostly because old school formulas were known for being harsh and overly drying. For many of us sensitive skin sufferers, finding skincare in general that’s gentle enough but still actually works can feel like an endless feat of trial and error (and most likely, damage control). This is especially the case if you’re trying to find a toner for sensitive skin, as toners are notoriously unpredictable when it comes their knack for stripping the skin—not to mention leaving it feeling uncomfortably tight. However, adding a toner to your skincare routine can be a great way to double cleanse, refine enlarged pores, and even gently exfoliate. And, if you find the right one, they can actually be helpful for soothing irritation, eliminating redness and keeping pores clean and clear.
Many traditional toners actually contain alcohol, which, unless you have extremely oily skin, can do more harm than good. In fact, banishing all of your skin’s natural oils can not only cause premature lines to forms thanks to the tugging, but it can also actually lead to excess oil production and breakouts, because your skin’s innate defense mechanism is to try to restore balanced moisture levels through more sebum production in order to compensate for the lack of (albeit self-inflicted) hydration. If you’re prone to redness or have rosacea, toners can be an absolute nightmare. While it’s normal to look a bit flushed after toning, if you have truly reactive skin, the aftermath can last for hours before going back to normal. Fortunately, there are plenty of alcohol-free options on the market infused with ingredients beneficial for sensitive skin, including aloe, rose petal, and lavender oil. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite toners designed with sensitive skin in mind.
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1. Thayer's Facial Toner
This cult-classic is truly a gem. I’ve been using it for years, and my ultra sensitive skin absolutely loves it. It’s infused with rose petal and aloe to help calm, while the witch hazel tightens pores and gently cleanses.
2. InstaNatural Vitamin C Toner
While Vitamin C can be a trigger for some sensitive skin types, if your skin can handle it, this is a great anti-aging option that will leave your skin brighter and more radiant. To counteract irritation, it contains lavender oil and geranium oil to keep skin from feeling utterly stripped.
3. Simple Soothing Facial Toner
This affordable toner is completely alcohol-free and pH balanced to gently cleanse, tone and refresh without over-drying or causing reactive skin to freak out. It also contains chamomile, which helps soothe irritation and calm redness.