Continuing my natural skincare journey, i’ll be discussing what i’ve made up for my own rejuvenating toner.
Natural, homemade toners are quite easy and relatively cheap to make. Distilled Witch Hazel is preferred by most as Kelly suggests in her post on Natural Skincare found HERE. I wanted to make up a toner that would feed my skin some serious nutrients with floral hydrolats/hydrosols and some water-soluble goodies. As i mentioned before, my skin is very sensitive and as much as i would love to use Witch Hazel straight out of the bottle, my poor, easily irritated skin just wont allow me. So i did some research on other floral waters that would make up the base of my toner with the inclusion of witch hazel to dilute it and make it less irritating.
Floral Waters – A Base For Your Natural Toner
True floral waters are a by product of the essential oil making process through steam distillation. They smell really pretty and bring all the qualities of the essential oils they are made from into our toners. Try and find 100% distilled waters as many sold in the chemists and shops have other ingredients like alcohol added. Depending on your skin type would depend on what you put in your toner, but to be honest most toners are suitable for all skin types. Only if you have really sensitive skin (like me) or very acne prone/problem skin should you really be concerned about the fine detail. There are many floral waters to choose from and you can go by scent as well as qualities if you wish. Here is a basic list of some of them along with their properties:
Rose Water – The mother of all floral waters. Maintains the pH balance, stimulates cell regeneration processes, has a calming effect in acne and sunburns. As a result the skin texture becomes even and elastic. For nourishing and hydrating the skin and face. It’s tonic and soothing quality is useful for all skin types, especially mature, dry and sensitive. Helpful for inflammation and reducing the visibility of broken capillaries. Can be used as a facial toner on it’s own.
Chamomile Water – Soothing and Relaxing. Ideal as a facial or hair toner and for soothing irritated skin. Roman Chamomile floral water is so mild it is ideal for use on babies. Can be used on all skin types, however, if you have dry skin it is best to mix it with Lavender floral water for long term use.
Geranium Water – Has a balancing act on the hormones, this makes it ideal for use on skin which is affected by hormonal conditions. It will help to dry oily patches of the skin and encourage dry patches to improve normal oil secretion of the skin. Ideal for combination and teenage skin.
Juniper Water – The kick start and revive floral water helping to eliminate toxins and build up from the skin to revive and rejuvenate your complexion. Mainly used for its detoxifying action on the body and the skin. This makes it ideal for sluggish and dull looking skin. The strong scent makes it unsuitable for use alone, but combined with other floral waters it can make very powerful skincare solutions.
Lavender Water – An excellent tonic on the skin when you have blemishes, uneven skin tone or mild acne. The anti-bacterial properties help to kill bacteria in the skin and the toning naturally goes deep down into the pores without clogging. Suitable for skin of all ages.
Melissa Water – A gentle but highly effective floral water which forms the key ingredient of many premium brand facial toners to awaken and tone the skin. For dull sluggish skin which needs a kick start to life. Excellent for troublesome skins and blends both in terms of scent and with effect, well with Lavender Floral Water.
Orange Water – Suitable for normal to dry skin types, helping with poor circulation and dull looking skin.
Rosemary Water – Slightly astringent and is therefore useful in toning slightly oily complexions. The stimulatory nature helps encourage healthy blood flow in the skin surface. Blending Rosemary in a low amount with any of the floral waters can help give them a little more stimulation on application.
Tea Tree Water – A very useful floral water to help with problem skins, especially useful on teenage boys skin, where the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties help to regulate the skins tone and help kill any bacteria in the pores without clogging the skin.
Witch Hazel – A strong anti-oxidant and astringent useful for skin healing and treatment to help with problems from acne to sunburn. A great anti-inflammatory. Stimulates blood circulation and is a good venous constrictor. Great if you need soothing of redness, astringency, or increased circulation. Include up to 30% in toner recipes for very oily skin but is great for all skin types.
Ylang Ylang Water – useful for regulating the sebum levels in the skin. This can help oily skin become more normal and for dry skin to remoisturise naturally. This makes Ylang Ylang floral water a very useful ingredient for combination skin. The delightful fragrance of Ylang Ylang floral water will also enhance any blend you create of floral waters and is the perfect floral water to combine for both scent and effect.
Aloe Vera Juice – The juice we all love! One of the plants that contain many nutrients including amino acids, minerals, enzymes, vitamins, saccharine, anthraquinone, lignin, sterols and many more. Aloe Vera is considered anti-inflammatory, anti-reddening, Anti-itching, Anti-oxidant and provides UV protection (during and after sun exposure), Cell regeneration (which leads to speedier healing), Barrier protection (minimising water loss) and is very moisturising as well as being classified as a natural humectant like glycerine.
There are other floral waters available. These are just a few for you to consider. I get 100% distilled floral waters from Naturally Thinking.
If you want you can just stop at the floral waters. Mixing a few different ones can make a lovely toner in and of itself. But you know me! I can’t just stop there. Especially when there are so many more lovely goodies to enhance a toner and take it from good to ridiculously awesome!!! Here are a few:
Allantoin – The most important and most active natural ingredient found in the root of the comfrey herb. It is a water-soluble, white-coloured powder. A fantastic skin protectant that softens skin (it’s a keratolytic, meaning it causes the keratin to soften), causes rapid cell regeneration and proliferation, and is approved by the FDA to temporarily prevent and protect chafed, chapped, cracked, or windburned skin by speeding up the natural processes of the skin and increasing the water content. Helps sensitive skin to become more resilient and helps to retain skin moisture. Excellent in skin and hair care products that contain skin irritants such as detergents, peelers, AHAs, very active or stimulating herbs and tinctures as it helps to counteract their harshness. Recommended usage is 0.5-2%. Normally used 0.5-1% in toners and creams.
Humectants – Vital for toners as a moisturising ingredient
Glycerine – Humectant. Cleanses and moisturises while acting as an emollient to soften and lubricate. Speeds up the healing process, lessens bruising, and encourages tissues and cells to repair themselves. Great for adding to your blends to give them that silky smooth texture and feel, leaving skin feeling silky soft and glossy. Recommended usage up to 5% as it can be quite sticky if used in higher amounts. Consider glycerine as your first choice if you have dry skin.
Sodium Lactate – Non-sticky humectant. Found in our skin’s natural moisturising factor. Has been found to improve the barrier properties of our skin and stimulates ceramide synthesis in the skin. Also acts as a mild AHA, which can help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Has a really high water holding capacity (meaning it’s a very effective humectant), and is about 1.5 times more effective in this department than glycerine. Great for leave-on products like toners and creams but not so great for products intended for washing off such as cleansers as it rinses off with water (unlike glycerine that stays behind to leave your skin & hair feeling silky after washing). Also good if you have problem skin. Caution – can make your skin sun sensitive if used at 3% or over. Recommended Usage 1-2%.
Honeyquat – Derived from honey. A cationic quaternary polymer - meaning it is a positively charged conditioning agent. It’s substantive – positively charged and binds to our negatively charged hair and skin to offer conditioning and moisturising. Also a humectant and water binder (more powerful than glycerine). On our skin, it increases the moisture uptake ability. Recommended usage up to 3% in toners.
Film Formers – Very important for moisturising without oils
Hydrolysed Protein – Such as oat, wheat & silk. Considered a humectant and emollient. Improves skin tone and elasticity. Will make your toner feel silkier and softer, and will decrease irritation. Suggested usage 0.5-5%. Normally used at 1-2%.
Panthenol – Pro Vitamin B5. Penetrates deep into the skin and hair shaft and has excellent water-binding abilities. It creates a protective film, thus aiding moisture retention. Recommended Usage 1-5%. Normally used at 2-3% (use up to 5% if you have really inflamed or dry skin).
Aloe Vera also acts as a film former
Moisturisers & Emollients
Water Soluble Oils – The only one i can source is Olive Oil PEG-10 Esters. This is olive oil that has gone through a process to make it solubilise in water. Good for adding extra moisturising qualities to water based products, especially surfactant based products such as shampoos and facial cleansers. Recommended Usage up to 5%.
You could also make your favourite oil water soluble by mixing it in equal parts with Polysorbate 80 so they incorporate well into the toner, up to 3% oil and 3% polysorbate 80 for dry skin (can feel quite sticky). Avoid this option if you have oily skin though or use your blended oil at no more than 1-2%.
All Humectants and film formers are also moisturisers.
There are just too many to go through here. But some you can consider and that i could source here in the UK. Powdered extracts are added at 0.5% and liquid extracts up to 7% (usually 3-5%) unless stated otherwise.
Green Tea Extract – Helps with inflammation and water retention. Provides increased wound and burn healing, as well as the maintenance of collagen and elastin in our skin. A powerful anti-oxidant – about 20 times more powerful than Vitamin C and 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E!
Rosemary Extract – Offers toning, astringency, increased blood circulation, as well as anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-microbial features. It inhibits oxidative cell damage, and it can be added to increase the shelf life. Might also be anti-aging by offering a decrease in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Recommended Usage 0.02-0.4%
Cucumber Extract – Soothing and calming to the skin. It helps retain moisture levels and is perfect for dry skin. It is a mild astringent and helps remove dead skin cells and tighten the skin.
Seaweed Extract – Contains fucoidan which aids in collagen synthesis and thus restores tone and elasticity to the skin. Seaweed may also benefit problem skin. The presence of polygalactosides and polyfucose form a protective layer over the hair and skin and help retain water levels. They may also help protect against environmental damage. Also contains vitamins B1, 2, 3, 6 and 12 along with essential trace minerals and may help reduce inflammation.
Triple Tea Extract – Botanical extracts of White Tea, Green Tea and Honeybush Tea – Contains a family of compounds called polyphenols, which are packed with powerful anti-oxidants that protect the skin from harmful free radicals. Recommended Usage 0.5-2%.
Multifruit Extract – Contains a family of compounds called polyphenols, which are packed with powerful anti-oxidants that protect the skin from harmful free radicals: Lactic Acid – an effective moisturiser, Glycolic Acid – weakens cell bonds, thus aiding exfoliation, Citric Acid – stimulates collagen synthesis, Malic Acid – Boosts skin elasticity, Tartaric Acid – Boosts skin elasticity. These alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) thus aid in exfoliation of dead skin cells, cell proliferation and skin firming and smoothing. Also contains a wide variety of residual natural substances such as cellulose, proteins, vitamins and minerals. It is 55% active at pH4 and has maximum efficacy with minimum irritancy. Recommended Usage 1-15%. Normally used at up to 3% in toners. Go easy on this as it’s exfoliating! Great for wrinkled, aging and dull looking skin. Don’t use if using sodium lactate as your humectant as both are exfoliating. Choose one or the other to include in your toner.
Be careful when combining extracts. Choose one you really like and use that first to see how your skin reacts before adding in another.
Preservative – Anyone you like. A reminder that antioxidants such as Rosemary and Grapefruit seed extracts are not preservatives! They help to keep oils fresher for longer and may offer SOME antibacterial qualities but they are not effective broad spectrum anti-bacterial, antifungal and antiviral preservatives so will not be effective at keeping your toners bug free!!! Choose whichever one you want such as MicroKill (must be combined with Polysorbate 20 or 80 to make it water soluble) or Geoguard Ultra (new preservative that’s water soluble and approved by Ecocert). If you really don’t want to add in a preservative (or just don’t have any), than make up your toners in small amounts and keep it refrigerated. Be sure to use within 7-10 days!
Man…. This post is WAY too long already. I’ll finish up with my toner recipe. I’ll be tweaking this to try out some of the other ingredients. I started out with 30% Witch Hazel but it was too strong for me, even though it’s considered a non-irritating ingredient. I then reduced it to 10% but it was STILL slightly aggravating. So it’s in there at 5%. It’s such a good ingredient that i don’t want to miss it out. Even a small amount is effective!
Aloe & Rose Moisturising Toner – With Cucumber & Seaweed Extracts
Aloe Vera Juice – 22%
Rose Hydrosol – 22%
Ylang Hydrosol – 15%
Lavender Hydrosol – 10%
Witch Hazel Hydrosol – 5%
Honeyquat – 3%
Panthenol – 3%
Glycerine – 4%
Hydrolysed Wheat Protein – 2%
Cucumber Extract – 5%
Seaweed Extract – 5%
Allantoin – 0.5%
Olive Oil PEG-10 Esters – 3%
Geoguard Ultra – 0.5%
I mixed all the ingredients together except the Allantoin and Geoguard Ultra as they need to be dissolved in a little water before adding to the mix. I took out a little of the rose water and warmed it slightly before dissolving them in there as i wanted them to really dissolve properly. I added it in to the mix, stirred well and poured it into a bottle. Voila! That was easy. My skin loves it! It makes my skin feel very soft, smooth and silky, and most importantly, i don’t react to it (yay). As i said, i will be adjusting this recipe to try out some of the other floral waters and additives to see which ones i like the best, the ones i used were what i had on hand. I may also leave out the olive oil esters next time to see if my skin prefers a ‘no oil’ toner (even though it’s water soluble, my face still recognises it as an oil and it becomes very shiny!). Because of this, my toner doubles up as a moisturiser as well so i don’t need to use an extra moisturiser on top if i don’t want to. But i do!
Hope you enjoyed this (ridiculously long) post. Join me next time for my take on natural moisturisers.