As a teenager I used to derive a perverse sense of satisfaction from running a cotton ball doused with astringent across my face and staring at all the dirt it picked up. If it stung, I felt like the product was working.
Sometimes, I’d go over my face again with a second cotton ball until there was nothing to remove anymore.
This overzealous approach to cleansing can’t be helped in a humid, polluted city like Manila, but what most women don’t know is that they could be doing more harm than good.
In a previous interview with the founders of New York-based apothecary Malin + Goetz, I asked about the lack of a toner in its product line, and Andrew Goetz had an interesting take on it: “[A toner] really is going back to cleanse the skin because your cleanser wasn’t efficient enough or it was leaving residue on your skin so you have to go back and clean the residue.”
He added: “If your cleanser washes away immediately, there’s no reason to go back and do a second cleanse. Also, toners have a very good deal of alcohol… and alcohol’s one of the worst things you can put on your skin.”
Still, for some women, skincare regimens are step-by-step processes that they build over time.
How many of us were told, over and over again, to cleanse, tone and moisturize?
Taking out one step out of the equation could take some getting used to, which is why I’m glad that there’s a new generation of alcohol-free toners in the market that are gentler and prep your skin for moisturizing.
Here are my top three picks:
1) Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Soothing Treatment Lotion
If the name confuses you, that’s understandable. This product technically isn’t a toner, but the consistency is watery enough that it needs to be poured on a cotton pad first before applying on skin.
What does it do? Origin’s Dr. Andrew Weil product line specifically targets stressed-out skin, aggravated by harsh weather, pollution, even emotional stressors.
It contains Sea Buckthorn Berry, a powerful anti-irritant and antioxidant, and a cocktail of super mushrooms: Chaga Mushroom (as an anti-inflammatory), Cordyceps Mushroom (to protect skin), and Reishi Mushroom (for calming skin).
Who should use it? Those with sensitivity, redness, dryness, breakouts and dry patches should try it. This fits in seamlessly with your current skincare regimen as its meant to give you skin a “boost.” Think of it as taking an extra shot of vitamin C whenever you’re feeling ill.
Available at SM Makati, www.lazada.com.ph and www. beautymnl.com.
2) Nuxe Gentle Toning Lotion
Designed to prepare the skin for your Nuxe day or night cream, the Gentle Toning Lotion (or Lotion Tonique Douce) removes makeup and promotes smooth and clear skin. It’s so gentle, it can even be used over the eye area.
To decongest the eye area, apply pads soaked Gentle Toning Lotion and make light tapping movements on them. Put it in the fridge before using for a decongesting effect over your entire face.
What does it do? Enriched with hyaluronic acid and witch hazel water, the gentle toning lotion soothes and hydrates skin while damascena rose petal water softens it.
Who should use it? Those with normal, dry and sensitive complexions.
Available at Beauty Bar, Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Shangri-La
3) Tony Moly Natural Goat Milk Moisture Toner
This is the closest you’ll get to making like Cleopatra and dousing yourself in fresh milk. This product is a hypoallergenic moisturizing toner that contains the raw milk from goats raised in New Zealand ranches. Goat’s milk has similar components to human mother’s milk, helping keep skin healthy and providing gentle, skin-friendly moisture.
This can be applied either on a cotton pad or can be lightly splashed on your face using your hands. Be sure to start from the inner area, work outwards, and gently pat and wrap your face with your hands to encourage absorption.
What does it do? Apart from raw goat’s milk, it contains Ceramides, which help lock in moisture in skin, while strengthening the skin’s barrier. It also has a low molecular hyaluronic acid, which forms a moisture layer, and lecithin, which strengthens and supplies nutrition to skin.
Who should use it? It’s suitable for all skin types, but is especially recommended for those with dry, sensitive or irritated skin.
Available at SM Megamall, Alabang Town Center, Market! Market!, and Lucky Chinatown Mall. Visit www.tonymoly.ph.