As far as skin care products go, toner is somewhat controversial: Some swear by the after-cleansing step; others deem it wholly unnecessary. And sure, it’s not as crucial as your nightly face wash or daily SPF, but a well-formulated toner can offer your skin plenty: It cleanses, balances oils, adds a cushion of hydration, and sets up your subsequent skin care steps for success. (Read all about toner, here.) Ultimately, though, it comes down to your skin goals and how many steps you’re willing to put up with. If you decide toner is for you, here are our favorite mists, essences, waters, and tonics.
May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden
A few spritzes of this will have you feeling like you’re bathing in a Mediterranean jasmine-filled garden. The toner spray contains a host of skin-healthy botanicals. Perhaps the most intriguing is the colloidal silver, which has natural antibacterial properties to tame acne; it also includes witch hazel to further cleanse the skin. Then, the tonic is rounded out with a bouquet of rose, jasmine, vanilla, and coco.
The Jasmine Garden, May Lindstrom ($70)
Osea Sea Mineral Mist
This California-based brand pulls its inspo (and ingredients) from the water. The result? Products that are as refreshing as a quick dip. This mist is formulated with a few strains of algae to stimulate cell renewal—as well as block enzymes that break down hyaluronic acid and collagen. But then you’ll see a few other natural favorites: Aloe vera soothes and calms irritation, and Dead Sea salt is packed with essential minerals. Bonus: Feel free to spritz this on post-sun skin after a day outside.
Sea Mineral Mist, Osea ($38)
Freck Beauty Cactus Water
If the toner category was a spectrum, on one end would be moisturizing and the other would be exfoliating. But before you start thinking of stinging, astringent liquids of toners past, know that the new version of exfoliating toners are so gentle. Like this lactic-acid-infused toner. It’s not about drying out oil but instead helps lift away dead skin cells and gunk your face wash may have missed. The lactic acid, sensitive-skin-approved in its own right, is further buffered with cactus flower extract and kelp.
Cactus Water, Freck Beauty ($27)
Ren Skin Care Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic
For the acne- and oily-prone, this toner is made with natural AHAs and BHAs to slough off buildup, oil, deep clean pores, and keep your complexion balanced throughout the day. First up, there’s a natural salicylic acid (a BHA) extract from willow bark; BHAs can dissolve oil and therefore shimmy down into clogged pores clearing things out. The natural lactic acid (an AHA) from yeast works on the top layer, buffing away surface level impurities. And finally, an azelaic acid derivative will help reduce redness.
Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, Ren Skin Care ($38)
Savor Beauty Organic Toning Mist
A delightful blend of flower waters makes this mist so sensorially appealing, you’ll be rushing to apply it every morning. The lavender water calms and reduces redness, rose water hydrates, neroli blossom balances oils, and the lemongrass refreshes tired skin cells. Plus, this organic brand makes it in small batches in upstate New York, so you know it’s crafted with integrity and care.
Organic Toning Mist, Savor Beauty ($34)
Pixi By Petra Glow Tonic
This has a devoted group of users who swear by the brightening product. The main active is glycolic acid, an exfoliating ingredient that will buffer dark spots and uneven tone (it also helps spur collagen production). But the hydroxy acid is calmed with the addition of aloe vera and the adaptogen ginseng, both superstar ingredients that will reduce any skin inflammation you might be experiencing.
Glow Tonic, Pixi By Petra ($29)
Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner
This toner is all about the hydration and antioxidant protection. First up: CoQ-10 is a potent antioxidant that offers fairly unique benefits as far as antioxidants go. Its main function is to neutralize free radicals, but it also protects against lipid peroxidation, a process by which free radicals damage cell lip membranes. (It does this as an oil-soluble antioxidant, when most antioxidants are water-soluble.) To top it off, CoQ10 protects the membranes of mitochondria and regenerates other antioxidants, like vitamins C and E—both of which are just as important for healthy skin. It also layers in aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, cucumber, and chamomile.
CoQ-10 Toner, Indie Lee ($34)
Odacite Aloe & Immortelle Hydra Repair Treatment Mist
For those with sensitive skin, this spray will add an extra cushion of hydration and repairing actives to help your skin barrier function. Sensitive skin, while something of a nebulous term, is often defined as those with a weakened skin barrier. In order to soothe and strengthen the skin, you need to focus on healing and moisturizing ingredients, like aloe, chamomile, immortelle, rose water, and rice extract.
Aloe & Immortelle Hydra Repair Treatment Mist, Odacite ($42)
Vintner’s Daughter Active Treatment Essence
This brand carries only two products: the oil that made them famous, and this essence—a follow-up product that required a waiting list. This tonic goes on post-wash, right before the oil, to impart hydration and tons of highly effective actives. The primary one is the “Phyto Radiance Infusion” complex, made from 13 nutrient botanicals, coupled with a unique fermentation component to amplify absorption. But that’s not all: They also include vitamin C, micro and mini hyaluronic acid, probiotics, plant stem cells, marine microalgae, and micro-exfoliating acids and enzymes.
Active Treatment Essence, Vintner’s Daughter ($225)
De Mamiel Dewy Face Mist
This brand prides itself on blending Eastern and Western medicine and putting those lessons into skin care. The end result is products that are effective and made with some of our favorite herbal and botanical ingredients. This mist, for example, is made with extracts, essences, and essential oils of neroli, Persian rose, white oak, river cane bamboo, aloe, and so much more. It’s ideal for those with ultradry skin who only trust natural ingredients.
Dewy Face Mist, De Mamiel ($78)
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA BHA Pore Tight Toner
This trendy brand always finds the most fun, bright, mood-boost ingredients around to really make your routine enjoyable. (Avocado face masks, banana-infused creams: You name it!) This toner is made with watermelon to hydrate as well as provide your skin with essential amino acids. The exfoliation comes from the blend of willow bark and a naturally derived PHA (or polyhydroxy acid). Of the acids, PHA is certainly not as popular as the others, but the ingredient is ultra gentle, and thus a suitable exfoliant for inflamed skin.
Watermelon Glow PHA BHA Pore Tight Toner, Glow Recipe ($34)
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner
Colloidal oat has been a skin care mainstay for, well, a while. The soothing ingredient is encouraged by traditional derms and doctors, as well as those who are strictly natural and holistic. This hydrating toner takes it to the next level by adding wild oat extract as well as propolis. (Propolis is a near-magic like ingredient that is known for its healing powers; it’s the byproduct of making honey.) Refreshed skin in one swipe.
Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner, First Aid Beauty ($22)
Milk Makeup Matcha Toner
Previously on this list, we’ve included a variety of different delivery methods: essences you pat on, tonics you swipe with a cotton pad, and sprays you mist. Here’s a new and innovative method: a stick! A stick provides a few major benefits: First, it’s on-the-go. Just toss it in a bag without the fear of spilling. The second is that you don’t have to use cotton or fabric pads, making it so easy. Finally, it’s easy to target areas that need the product most rather than an aimless aerosol. This stick is packed with rosemary, sake, witch hazel, and matcha.
Matcha Toner, Milk Makeup ($28)
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