Discover why you should keep at least 1 or even a collection in your oily skin kit arsenal.
a) Why use a toner
Because they’re great! Super great for oily skin. Let’s briefly talk skin pH. The pH scale ranges from 0-14. Anything above 7 is considered alkaline. Anything lower than 7 is considered acidic. 7 is neutral. The skin’s natural pH is between 5-6. That means our skin is naturally acidic. It’s at it’s optimal best between 5-6 and what we call, a balanced skin.
Within this acid environment lies the acid mantle. Our skin’s natural defence system. It’s composed of oil and sweat. The acid mantle has many benefits; it helps regulate oil production, retains moisture in the skin and protect us from harmful bacteria, dirt and pollutants. When the acid mantle becomes compromised our balanced skin pH has either risen, becoming too alkaline or fallen, becoming too acidic.
Many things can cause our skin to become unbalanced. Breaking it down…
Oily skin tends to have a lower pH and problems arise from the skin becoming too acidic. Dry skin, on the other hand, has a higher pH and problems arise from the skin becoming too alkaline.
We’re always seeking our balance of around 5-6. Some sources will put 5.5 as the absolute optimum.
Are you oily or dry? Have a look at the diagram to identify where you sit on the skin pH scales.
Causes of unbalance
Besides our genetics disrupting the balance, physical disturbances can also unbalance us.
Soap, for instance, is highly alkaline. Ever heard the phrase “don’t wash your face with soap”. Don’t! Soap is drying. Why? On average most soaps have a pH of 10 or greater.
Some soaps described as ‘mild’ can have a pH of 11 which is way above our optimal 5.5. It’s exactly why sometimes having washed our faces they feel ‘dry’ or tight. Classic symptoms of dehydrated skin. See understanding your skin type where we discuss skin type vs skin condition.
Alkaline = neutralisation. Cleansers are designed to neutralise our slightly and naturally acidic pH. This neutralising is what allows cleansing or deep cleaning of impurities. If the pH is too high or used incorrectly the skin can become inflamed and irritated.
When a skincare product has a much lower pH than our optimal 5.5, skin destruction occurs. You may question for a second why skincare products would exist at this level but this is where we find Chemical Skin Peeling.
Roll on toners
Toners can help to balance our skin. Depending on the active ingredients they can offer oily skin a rounded remedial benefit. Because we produce much of our own lipids, there can be times where we can cleanse > tone > go. Summer for instance.
Oily skins shouldn’t make a habit of omitting to moisturise but given the right environment, cleansers & toners, we can feel comfortable and restored.
b) Why is a toner particularly good for oily skin types?
- Restores our natural pH. Toners tend to have optimal pH or slightly acidic to balance our slightly alkaline skin after cleansing.
- Rehydrates the skin. Dry and tight are often symptoms of dehydrated skin. Some toners contain humectants. They have the ability to bind moisture to the skin.
- They shrink pores. Common in oily skin, unsightly pores. Depending on the actives and usage over time, toners can aid in the appearance of smaller pores.
- Refreshes the skin. Toners are usually water-based and can be used throughout the day in lieu of washing. Use to remove oil & impurities, uplift or revitalise on the go.
- Chemical exfoliation. Choose chemical over manual. Loafers and such can tug and tear the skin. Once applied, chemical exfoliation works naturally over time. You will find many toners contain AHAs or salicylic acid. They’re usually aimed at oily skin and light enough to use daily.
c) What type of toner should I be looking for?
There are 3 main types of toners.
- Humectants – Great for hydration. They attract water and retain moisture.
- Astringents – Our sidekicks. They unclog pores, keep skin feeling smooth and comfortable. Removes oil and aids in the removal of dead skin buildup.
- Anti-inflammatory – The gentle range. They’re designed to soothe irritation.
As an oily skin, you’ll most likely have come across astringents. Astringents can often have an alcohol base. They’re good at removing oil but tend to over-dry which can cause further problems. You should avoid alcohol as well as sulphates and acetic acid.
We never want to strip oily skin, we always seek to create a balance. Witch hazel or tree oil are much better choices. You will find alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic and beta hydroxy acid, salicylic within astringents.
Humectant toners are great for everyone. See my post here can oily skin be dehydrated too. These are best used immediately after cleansing. You can remedy undesirable feelings by restoring vitals that may have been taken away. Look out for hyaluronic acid.
A dry or sensitive skin favourite; anti-inflammatory toners. Oily skin is often thought of as tough or thick skin. But every skin type needs love. Overuse of astringents and excessive exfoliation can lead to skin stress. Which leads to compromised and unbalanced. Incorporating sensitive and anti-inflammatory skincare products into an oily skincare routine can work miracles.
If treatments such as peels or laser are being received, we’d naturally want something calming. Soothing toners with ingredients such as chamomile and vitamin E are good choices.
Toners aren’t necessarily sold as a type. It’s not uncommon to find all 3 properties within one product. Indeed, if you’re just starting out you may only wish to purchase 1. It’s worth investing in a collection of toners. They’re marvellously fantastic. Having discovered myself in recent, I wouldn’t be without as a super oily skin.
“I’d be lost without a toner in the summer. I use all 3 types and tend to follow with a lightweight sun protecter. I want good SPF of at least 30, something invisible and absorbs completely into my skin. I’m not trying to feel bogged down or heavy. If I’m feeling particularly self-conscious, I’ll follow my toner with a BB cream or tinted moisturiser instead. ”
d) 5 great toners to get you started
Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Toner
Tone down oily skin and minimize pores. Restore the balance of your skin with this light hydrating toner. Potent antioxidants, soothing plant extracts and niacinamide help to tone down oily skin and refine pores. The lightweight formula provides optimal hydration, for smooth, clearer-looking skin.
NIP+FAB Glycolic Fix Liquid Glow 6% 100ml
Cleanse and clarify your skin with NIP+FAB Glycolic Fix Liquid Glow 6%, a liquid exfoliator that visibly brightens the complexion. Enriched with 6% Glycolic Acid to improve skin texture, Salicylic Acid to unclog pores and Allantoin to soothe and protect, the formula also uses Vitamin B5 to restore much-needed moisture. The result is a skin surface that looks and feels re-energised.
Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion
An iconic Kiehl’s product, formulated in 1964. While the multipurpose facial astringent was created for use specifically on oily-prone areas, patrons with oilier skin employ it as an all-over toner.
Pixi Glow Tonic With Aloe Vera & Ginseng
Exfoliates and purifies the skin with Glycolic Acid. Ginseng improves circulation and energises. Aloe vera soothes and hydrates. Refines the appearance of pores. Gently accelerates cell renewal to reveal a brighter, glowing complexion. Balances, heals and soothes for radiant, healthier-looking skin.
Neal’s Yard Remedies Rejuvenating Frankincense Toner
Alcohol-free and antioxidant-rich, this best-selling toner is suitable for all skin types. With organic aloe vera and rejuvenating frankincense essential oil, skin will feel hydrated, refined and primed, with the last traces of impurities removed ready for the next step in your beauty routine.