Toners on the cheap


It’s kind of turning into a sort of budget series this summer, isn’t it? I love me some fancy products, but sometimes the simplest things work best. That’s my philosophy in cleansing and toning, though I may (and do) go all out for serums and moisturizers, including oils. (And that said, being the junkie I am, I’ve recently been testing out some PHENOMENAL cleansers that I truly love and may keep using.)

For a long time, I didn’t understand the point of toning. I really began to appreciate it when (1) I started using facial oils, (2) I stopped cleansing my face in the morning, and (3) I figured out that I love apple cider vinegar more than women in Eastern Europe love purple hair dye. Also, glycolic acid. (1) and (2) because putting things like oils and moisturizers on dry skin just doesn’t work. It’s like if you dump water in the desert; it just sort of puddles and takes a long time to percolate. Throw some water onto moist earth, though, and it soaks right in. That’s why I use rose water in the morning before I put on my moisturizer, and why I splash my face with rose water before putting on oils at night. (Though, if my face is still moist after I’ve washed it at night, I may skip the rose water).


Rose water is great for all skin types and works to soothe and heal. Real rose water is water distilled from rose petals; the other result of distillation is rose oil. Rose water, or hydrosol, also has small amounts of rose oil in it. It hydrates the skin really well, and if you have oily skin, it actually may be all you need as far as moisturizing at night. Read your ingredients, and don’t fall for dupes that are just water with fragrance and additives. You will not get any of the benefits from these.

Apple cider vinegar is really great for evening out skin tone and getting rid of blemishes. I use it a couple of times a week regardless of whether my skin is being problematic though, because it also brightens the complexion. Put a little rose water on a cotton pad, and then put a bit of apple cider vinegar. (It is a strong acid, so make sure to dilute it or you’ll burn your face off.)

Another great skin brightener is glycolic acid, and I really like the Derma E Glycolic Toner. Glycolic acid is a very popular skincare ingredient in recent years, used in conventional and organic cosmetics alike. Acids are a chemical exfoliant, as opposed to a physical exfoliant like scrubby beads, wash cloths, or clays. Too much exfoliation is no good; your skin needs its protective acid mantle layer. However, your skin is also slightly acidic, hence acid mantle, and probably also why it tends to respond really well to acids. I use this maybe 4-5 mornings in a row every month, and that’s it. That’s enough to get rid of some of the top, dead layer of your skin and brighten the complexion.


Here’s the price breakdown. The glycolic toner is the priciest of all the options, for the size of product you are getting (6 oz for about $9), about $1.50/oz. My favorite rose water, from Alteya Organics, is about $23 for 17 oz, or $1.30/oz. (You can also buy rose water here for slightly cheaper if you buy the 16 oz bottle.) Bragg’s apple cider vinegar comes in at about $5 for 32 oz, about $.15/oz.

If you want to get fancy, here’s a quick DIY every day toner with ACV (apple cider vinegar). In a 4 oz bottle, mix the following:

– One teaspoon ACV

– One tablespoon aloe vera 

– Fill the rest with green tea made with filtered water (or rose water or any other flower hydrosol if you like)


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