When it comes to everything bath and beauty, it won’t come as a surprise that I keep things simple and natural. Which, of course, can seem more complicated at first look. Here’s what I’ve noticed: If you head to your neighborhood drugstore and have a walk down the aisles in the hope of finding a product to work some sort of magic without also including a ton of unpronounceable words, you’ll feel overwhelmed. It will seem like it’s impossible and confusing and too much trouble to find a pared down version of whatever drugstore variety beauty product you’re after. But if you generally avoid the bath and beauty aisles altogether, you’ll feel a whole lot more optimistic about the prospect of finding something to up your beauty routine without upping your toxin intake. I’m going to talk a lot more about my general approach to all of this natural beauty stuff in my book, so I’ll try not to ruin surprises in this space, but since my tome isn’t a 500 page treatise on natural beauty, I thought it might be nice to unpack some of the specifics here.
Without further ado, toner.
Let me back up and say that in a lot of ways, my summertime skin is my favorite skin. It’s not as dry as it is in the wintertime and I wake up from a night’s sleep feeling just a little bit glowy—you know, that little we-don’t-have-an-air-conditioner je ne sais quoi.
In the hottest months of the year, one of my favorite ways to stay hydrated and to feel fancy is by spritzing myself amply with a little something that I’ll call toner, but that also masquerades as facial tonic, mist, spray, elixir, magic potion, etc. I keep mine refrigerated so that it’s always ready for a little midday cool-down.
Toner as one of the first beauty products that I ever used, if you don’t count the After Bath Splash (dear God) that I doused myself with liberally as a four year old. Toner is also one of those mystifying beauty products that I’m not sure is the secret to the fountain of youth, but it can sure feel that way. And what’s a beauty product if not a ritual anyway? It’s the refreshing spritz, the act of closing your eyes and misting your tired skin with a little bit of something meant to make it feel better, or at the very least smell better. I grew up using mostly Thayer’s Witchhazel Toner in the rose scent. I’d pour a bit onto a cotton ball every night and while I freely admit to never being much a face washer, I’d feel refreshed and clean and ready to hop into bed after a good wipe down.
- Apple cider vinegar and water: One of those natural beauty ingredients that crops up just about everywhere you turn. Apple Cider Vinegar is so ubiquitous in home remedies that it’s often abbreviated to ACV and used for everything from conditioning hair to promoting gut health to cleaning your kitchen floor. Great for skin, too! Dilute in a ratio of 1:1 with fresh water. Refrigerate.
- Cucumber and witch hazel: Cold Spring Apothecary’s The Home Apothecary has a few amazing facial tonic and toner recipes. The simplest is for cucumber toner. Here’s the short version: peel and chop a cucumber and blend with witch hazel and distilled water (about a 1/4 cup of each.) Strain with fine mesh strainer and pour into a sterile container. Refrigerate.
- Rose water: Make like Cleopatra and douse yourself with rose water. You can make your own rose water if you have an abundance of fresh pesticide-free roses and some time. Or or you can keep a bottle of already made rose water on hand. You can apply rose water directly to your skin or dilute with distilled water. Add aloe vera gel for extra moisture or witch hazel for a light astringent. A teaspoon or two of each usually does the trick for me. Refrigerate.
- Cold Spring Apothecary: Speaking of Cold Spring Apothecary, you can purchase on of their toner’s ready made. The Organic Peppermint Facial Toner is slightly astringent and good for oily skin.
- Fig & Yarrow: These guys call their toners Complexion Waters, which is awfully fancy. As I’ve found myself on the far side of 30, I’m especially interested in their Yarrow/Immortelle/Rockrose blend for mature skin.
- Marble & Milkweed: Briar’s been a sponsor of RMTL for going on a year now. I recently treated myself to her Rose + Tulsi Facial Tonic. I’ve been keeping it in the refrigerator and going in for a nice refreshing spritz every time I duck my head in there. The tulsi is spicy and delicious (and grown just for Marble & Milkweed) and the rose is every bit as decadent as it sounds. Delightful.
- Nahla Beauty: I used their Bulgarian Rose Hydrating Mist a few summers ago and while I haven’t re-indulged yet, it was heavenly while it lasted. (And I’ve been reusing the glass bottle it came in ever since.)
- Portland Apothecary: Another much-loved sponsor of this space, these women make a Balancing Facial Toner with hydrosols of rose geranium, chamomile, helichrysum and rosemary. I haven’t tried this one myself but if my experience with all of their other products is an indication, it’s terrific.