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Article: Finding the best toner for sensitive skin

Finding the best toner for  sensitive skin

Finding the best toner for sensitive skin

If you have the sort of skin that ‘over-reacts’, finding a toner that doesn’t start WWIII on your face isn’t easy. Using the wrong toner can make you itchy and inflamed in an instant, which is never great if you have social occasions on the calendar.

Before we give you advice about the sorts of toners that work best for sensitive skin, let’s talk about the role of toner in a skincare regime.

What does toner do?

Until recently, the role of toner was mainly to perform a final cleansing action for your skin. So if your cleansing routine was less-than-brilliant, toner would get the last vestiges of makeup, oil and grime off your face. That’s why the toners of old were often alcohol-based and quite harsh.

New thinking has given toner a different role. Cleansing products are now much better than they used to be (especially if you’re into Korean-style double cleansing), so toner’s job is to adjust skin pH back to optimum.

Why is this necessary?  It’s necessary because cleansing routines, even those involving natural products, tend to move your skin away from its preferred 5.5 pH number (slightly acid) towards the alkaline end of the pH spectrum. To readjust pH, you need to finish with a slightly-acid toner. Just a tweak, mind, or your skin will end up too acid.

Why is skin pH so important for sensitive skin?

Keeping your skin pH at the magic 5.5 or thereabouts is always important, but never more so than with sensitive skin. Having this ‘acid mantle’ (also known as the ‘skin barrier’) is essential for healthy skin because it supports the normal microbial flora of the skin; creates a barrier that protects against harmful bacteria, viruses and environment pollutants; and helps to maintain the skin’s internal hydration levels. [1]

It’s quite possible you have sensitive skin because your acid mantle/skin barrier is upset, resulting in an avalanche of mini problems that become one big problem. For example, eczema and atopic dermatitis are both characterized by a defective skin barrier. [2] When you digest all these facts, it’s logical that one of the first things you need to get right is cleansing and toning in a way that maintains optimum skin pH.

Natural skin toners that enable optimum pH

A natural skincare regime makes sense when you have sensitive skin. If you use products that are made from a minimum number of nature-made ingredients, and you’ve read the ingredient label carefully to make sure that is really the case, there’s less chance your skin will over-react and go into an inflammatory spin.

Or maybe you’ll turn to the internet for natural toner recipes, in which case you’ll probably  encounter things like witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, chamomile, green tea, aloe vera and tea tree oil. These ingredients all have their uses, but not necessarily as a toner for sensitive skin. For example, witch hazel contains alcohol; definitely a no-no for sensitive skin (or any sort of skin really). More about witch hazel.

One natural ingredient that’s promising as a toner for sensitive skin is rose water. The use of rose water for skincare dates back to Cleopatra’s times (she probably bathed in it!). It’s made by steeping rose petals in distilled water.

Rose water has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce the redness of irritated skin. It can also be used as a light cleanser.

But before you rush off to buy some rose water, there are two humble ingredients that together create a fantastic toner for sensitive skin. They’re probably in your fridge right now!

Your skin craves a salad

When our founder Vibs Amin was formulating all the products in the Okana range, she wanted to create a toner that would work for every type of skin. After a huge amount of research and experimentation, Vibs settled on two deliciously-natural ingredients – lettuce and cucumber. Here’s why these two stood out in the crowd (and put rose water out of a job):

  •         Lettuce has a high water content, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc, along with B-vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamins C, A, E and K. [3]  Lettuce extracts also have anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of biocatalysts like lipoxygenase and carrageenan. [4] Lettuce’s natural pH is around 5.7.
  •         Cucumber is an excellent source of phytonutrients (plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties). Cucumber’s natural pH is between 5.12 and 5.78. Cucumber helps to relieve dark circles under your eyes and its astringent nature helps to shrink pores. [5] What’s more, cucumber juice has anti-inflammatory qualities – always good news for sensitive skin.

TIP: You could try to make your own lettuce and cucumber toner, however you’d need to make it fresh every couple of days. Okana Cucumber + Lettuce Toner is naturally preserved, so it won’t go off before you can use it all. It’s also vegan, palm-oil free and fragrance-free.

Why spray toner is better

In the past, when toner was more of a cleanser than a neutraliser, it was normal to use cotton balls or disposable wipes to do your toning. Now there’s a much better way to apply toner – mist it on.

A quick spritz of cucumber and lettuce juice adjusts your skin pH back to where it should be; it also gives your skin a useful drink of water. Before your skin dries, apply the next layer of skincare – either serum or moisturiser. This helps to seal the moisture in, so that your skin stays plump and gorgeous all day.

The other benefit of using a spray toner is that you can keep it in the fridge for hot weather skin recovery. When the temperatures are up in the high 20s or early 30s, a spritz of fridge-cool toner is refreshing and reviving. It’s a smart idea to keep a bottle at work, just for this purpose!

TIP: Don’t just tone your face. Your neck and décolletage will also benefit from a mist of toner after your shower.







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