Every skin care regime suggests you use a toner after you cleanse your face. Many of us, however, tend to skip this phase. It’s not always clear exactly what benefit you’re getting and, let’s face it, a good skin care set is expensive enough, isn’t it? I certainly use to skip it on and it’s really only in the last few years that I’ve actual “got” the purpose of a toner.
Back in the day when cleansing your face involved a bar of soap and some water,or even a cream cleanser, toners were used to remove any residue from the skin. Jocelyn Petroni, celebrity skin expert recently commented in Vogue, “When they first came out toners had a high alcohol content and you’d feel it was really stripping the skin. They would remove too much natural oil. That’s not the case anymore.”
You might have heard the term “acid mantle,” which is formed by secretions from sweat and sebaceous glands as well as the breakdown of fatty acids by beneficial microflora. This barrier functions like an invisible veil that keeps the good stuff (lipids, moisture) in and the bad stuff (pollution, bacteria) out. As the name indicates, the acid mantle is at its strongest—and therefore most naturally balanced—when the skin is slightly acidic, with an optimum pH of about 5.5. “You need some acidity to inhibit bacterial growth on the skin,” says dermatologist (and director of the New York Institute of Aesthetic Dermatology and Laser Surgery) Howard Sobel, MD, “which is why skin that’s too alkaline may, for example, be more susceptible to acne.” As we age, our skin’s acid mantle can be affected by many factors such as stress, diet, and lifestyle habits such as smoking and environment.
Toners nowadays are designed primarily to bring the skin back to the correct pH balance after cleansing. But, the great news is that, if you choose well, you’re going to get other benefits too.
After cleansing, your skin is “squeaky clean”. Most cleansers will have a drying effect, which is why you can’t wait to get your serum on. (You DO use a serum, don’t you?!). Serums are highly concentrated and you should need only a tiny amount. After applying your toner, wait just a few seconds for it to air-dry then apply your serum. You’ll find it glides on and you will use a fraction of the amount. As your serum is almost certainly the most expensive item in your skin care programme, this is a “no-brainer”. There are plenty to choose from and I suggest you test a few to find one that you love. Make sure it is absorbed quickly and leaves your skin ultra-comfortable.
The toner I recommend is Arbonne RE9 Advanced Regenerating Toner which is rich in antioxidants and is applied as a gentle mist, preparing your skin for any skin treatment or moisturiser. (I love the fact that, because it is sprayed direct from the pump, there is less wastage compared to one which is applied with a cotton pad.)
I also suggest you pop a travel size in your handbag and use throughout the day. Spritz it over the top of makeup to help set it, then spray anytime to refresh and rejuvenate during the day. My friends love it when I pull out my Arbonne toner on a hot day and offer them a quick spritz – much more enlivening than a water spray.