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Toner Woes. REN Clarifying Toning Lotion / Burt's Bees Rosewater and Glycerin Toner / Humphreys Citrus Witch Hazel

Toner woes indeed. This topic has to be the single most troublesome in my skincare routine. There are so many schools of thought on if toner is even necessary or not. And then if you decide you prefer to use one, you have to discover which one best suits your skin type.

Still, I think I've come a long way. I've graduated from thinking that a toner is a merely a second step to cleansing and now understand the importance of restoring the skin's pH balance. The hunt for the Holy Grail toner continues.

Since skincare expert, Caroline Hirons practically called the Clinique Anti-blemish Solutions Clarifying Lotion I used to use nail polish remover, I haven't purchased it since. She says that she uses two different types of toners - one for exfoliation and one for hydration - and that makes perfect sense. Especially as someone who is trying to get rid of post acne hyperpigmentation. I've said countless times the only thing that truly gets rid of those dark spots is exfoliation and time, with a healthy dose of sunscreen in between to ensure existing spots don't get darker.

As I was getting more and more into REN skincare I decided to try their Clarifying Toning Lotion in the Combination to Oily range. Before I made this purchase I was using the Burt's Bees Rosewater and Glycerin toner but the lovely assistant at Bio Beauty told me they wouldn't be bringing in that product anymore and I would have to special order it. And through it allllllllllllll (I will be the one to hold you in my arrrrrmmmmmmms) lol, ok for real, all the while I still had those Humpreys Witch Hazel pads that I love to travel with in my fridge. So which one will I repurchase?

Witch Hazel options available in Jenn's, Lower Broad Street

My toners currently in rotation

As the research suggests, the biggest 'no no' in a toner is alcohol. We all know that alcohol dehydrates the skin and then makes it over compensate i.e. produce more sebum <--- an oily skinned girl's worst nightmare. We fall prey to these products because they initially leave the skin feel uber clean or when we check the ingredients list they put the fancy scientific names. Therefore research truly is critical. 

I have learned that the ingredients list is noted from highest concentration of a component to the lowest. Thus, the first five ingredients make up the bulk of the product. So if alcohol or any its derivatives are in the top five, that's not the best option.

Burt's Bees Rosewater and Glycerin toner

As you can see from the picture above, SD alcohol 40-B is the second ingredient. No bueno. This article on Dr. Oz's site tell you about all the other names ethanol is called so you know what to look out for. This item was already off my repurchase list anyway because the rose scent is very strong (Heidi didn't like it either) and the product wasn't cheap (I think about $50BDS but don't quote me). Still, this 8 fluid ounce bottle has lasted quite a while and of the three products being discussed it has the shortest ingredients list.

Humphreys Citrus Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel is a tricky one. The packaging claims it's alcohol free but according to this Paula's Choice article, 14 - 15% alcohol is added in the distillation process. So I dunno. What I do know is that of the three products this is the cheapest. Jenn's has this 8 fluid ounce bottle for $18.95BDS and I would bet it's even less expensive in Collins. 

REN Clarifying Toning Lotion


REN skincare is know for their great ingredients. This toning lotion claims to be an exfoliating one that will "unclog pores and sloughs off dead skin leaving the complexion looking clear". The exfoliating properties are due to the second ingredient, willow bark extract, which is high in salicylic acid; as well as different acids present in the fruit extracts. But did you see that denatured alcohol is the ninth ingredient? This 5.1 fluid ounce bottle retails for $78BDS O_o from Pure Source Barbados or $28USD from Ren Skincare. I would repurchase this if this one from Clarins that Caroline recommends is not available in Barbados.

Two things to note:

1. If you're going to employ Caroline's method of one toner to exfoliate and one to hydrate, you may already have something you can use for the latter: M.A.C Fix+. This is not a setting spray and can be used to hydrate the skin before you apply makeup - after your serum/lotion - as well as refresh the skin during the day. YouTuber vlogger Dustin Hunter (I love him) recently did a video comparing M.A.C's Fix+ and their Mineralized Charged Water; it's worth a watch.



2. Secondly, I currently don't use either the Burt's Bees or Humphreys every day and I usually am following my toner with a hydrating serum. So the alcohol content is not a major issue for me. However, if you are looking to use one toner after every time you cleanse your face, I suggest you pick a less harsh solution.

Did I mention that I like to keep toners in the fridge? It gives the skin that extra zing! when you apply.

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