Thursday, June 1, 2017

What toner should I use?

I am asked by many new clients (and some who have come to see me for years) if they really need to use a toner. As I state without equivocation in a previous post (listed below), the answer is yes! Then comes the question, what to use?

First of all, you don’t ever want to use a toner with SD, ethyl, or isopropyl alcohol. SD stands for specially denatured; denatured renders it undrinkable. (A bittering agent is added to the alcohol so people won’t accidentally drink it.)

Ethyl and isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol) are very drying and not good ingredients for promoting healthy skin. Cetyl alcohol, on the other hand, is a waxy, emollient ingredient found in many cosmetic preparations and is not harmful to the skin. Not all alcohols are bad, just the ones listed above.

Years ago many toners contained alcohol (the bad kind), but it’s not as prevalent an ingredient today. It was thought back then that drying the skin out with alcohol would help dry up oily skin. On the surface, that sounds good. You’re producing a lot of oil, so surely the answer is to get rid of that oily buildup.

Unfortunately, running a cotton ball with an alcohol-based toner over your face is just removing the symptom—the excess oil. And it will undoubtedly cause another problem—dehydration. You need to affect the cause of the problem (overactive oil glands) before you can stop producing the symptom (oily skin). In other words, alcohol or any drying agent is simply drying up the oil, not stopping the oil glands from overproducing.

The cause of a skin condition is usually varied and complex, so treating the symptom seems the easier road to take. But in the end, only treating the symptom can create more problems. And so it is with alcohol.

Like other alkaline products, alcohol strips every particle of oil and water off the surface of your skin, leaving it bare and imbalanced. Your oil glands will tend to pump out more oil to compensate for the loss, which causes the potential for even oilier skin than you started with.

And because you’re removing all the oil and water off the surface, your skin will most likely become dehydrated too. This is all very bad news. Supple, hydrated, well-nourished skin is what you’re after. Using toners with alcohol in them will give you the opposite effect. Just say no to alcohol!

When looking for a toner, I would seek out an ingredient list that is short and without a lot of long, chemical-sounding names. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. Why? Because a long ingredient list equals a more complex substance; therefore, the chances are greater for irritation or intolerances.

As with the foods you eat, simple is best. Complex dishes, sauces, and soups made with lots of different ingredients can cause indigestion. There are just too many components for the digestive system to handle. Your skin is really no different. It likes simple, moderate, and gentle products used on it. Water should be (and usually is) the first ingredient in your alcohol-free toner.

Finally, find a toner with an aroma that is appealing to you. Toner remains on the skin, so how it smells will affect your desire to use it or not. Be careful it is not ladened with synthetic fragrance, it can cause problems for your skin. Essential oils (lavender, rosemary, cypress, to name a few) make good ingredients for a toner. They are naturally acidic as well as wonderfully (naturally) aromatic.

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