May 10 –
To believe or not to believe


For those who like to use a toner, I have two recommendations. First, look for one that doesn’t contain an irritating, drying type of alcohol. (Not all alcohol is drying, and some types are actually hydrating, so again, “listen to your skin”) Witch hazel is often used, and I don’t find that it’s irritating for most people. If you have sensitive skin, use a fragrance-free toner. It’s often the fixatives that are used with fragrance that cause reactions, so products with only essential oils for scent may be tolerated by those with sensitive skin. Second, as with cleansers, a toner is another opportunity to supply your skin with active ingredients to help maintain the barrier function of the skin.

There are skin-soothing botanicals in some toners, such as mint, coneflower, chamomile, and/or bitter orange. Any ingredient that helps reduce irritation will also diminish aging free radicals. Also, some toners contain hydrating ingredients like sodium PCA and/or amino acids that enhance hydration. And, of course, antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, help disarm free radicals.

People with oily skin who rely on toners that use a drying type of alcohol need to be careful not to overuse them. I suggest they use this type of toner no more than twice a day. The reason for this caution is that stripping oil from the skin’s surface also removes the moisture-holding lipids that are needed to keep the skin hydrated. Using a toner with natural moisture factors, such as sodium PCA, can also counteract this effect.


Dr. Howard Murad, M.D.
Wrinkle-Free Forever

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