Sensitive skin is known to be highly reactive to various irritants and allergens, so choosing non-toxic, natural and clean skincare is crucial. Even though there are tons of toners on the market that claim to be safe for sensitive skin, the truth is many of them still include harsh ingredients. Some of the safest toners for sensitive skin include pure rose water, thermal spring water, and organic and natural facial toners or face mists that are free of skin irritants. In this article we’ll disclose which ingredients to avoid if you have sensitive skin, which ingredients are skin-friendly, and list few great toner options if you are looking for organic or natural toner for sensitive skin.
Is Your Skin Sensitive?
Sensitive skin is usually a self-reported skin condition based on the symptoms of disturbed skin barrier. For example, some of the symptoms include skin irritation, redness, tingling, burning, tightness, as well as other inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, acne, etc. Moreover, environmental aggressors like pollution, wind, sun, cold, and lifestyle factors like alcohol consumption, diet, stress and use of harsh cosmetics can contribute to skin sensitivity and worsen the symptoms.
Overall, multiple research studies have concluded that sensitive skin has weaker epidermal barrier, which makes it highly reactive. However, the good news is that skin sensitivity can be addressed and reduced with the help of topical agents. That is to say, facial toner with non-toxic clean formula can reduce irritation and sooth agitated sensitive skin.
Importance Of Natural Toner
Even though there is still some debate going on whether the use of toner is a necessity, sensitive and oily skin types can definitely benefit from it.
So what is toner? Toner (can also be labeled as tonique, tonic, toning lotion, rose water) is a water-based liquid with active ingredients that tightens pores, tones, balances skin pH level, locks in moisture, and hydrates skin. It is usually made by infusing botanical extracts, minerals, essential oils, or by distilling plants, flowers, and fruits.
Not only toner helps remove debris like makeup leftovers and excess oils that remain after cleanser, but also it reduces dehydration caused by washing your face, and helps your skin absorb better serum and moisturizer.
⊗ Those with sensitive skin should look for non-toxic natural toners that are free of the following irritants and allergens:
- Alpha- and beta hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, malic, salicylic)
- Benzoyl peroxide
In addition, some natural ingredients like willow bark, lavender, and essential oils might also cause irritation in those with sensitive skin. That’s why dermatologists highly recommend doing a patch test on the neck, behind an ear or inner arm if you have sensitive skin.
√ So, when choosing a natural toner for sensitive skin, look for skin-friendly active ingredients like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal, bisabolol, jojoba oil, ceramides, fatty acids and soothing herbal and botanical extracts like aloe vera, calendula, chamomile, cucumber, rose, green and white tea extracts.
Best Natural Toners For Sensitive Skin
Since sensitive skin is known to be highly reactive to various irritants and allergens, it is crucial to avoid skincare products that contain harsh and potentially toxic ingredients. That being said, the following organic and natural toners for sensitive skin are free of fragrance, alcohol, menthol, sulfates, parabens, alpha- and beta hydroxy acids, dyes, lanolin, and other known irritants.
All in all, a well-formulated natural toner for sensitive skin will address skin redness, calm irritation, restore pH balance, reduce dehydration caused by washing, add moisture to the skin, and freshen up the skin.
Alteya Organic Bulgarian Rose Water
100% pure steam distilled rose flower water made of Bulgarian Rosa Damascena that is organically grown, ethically harvested from a small family rose farm, and bottled in Bulgaria. Not only this rose water is USDA certified organic, but also it is therapeutic and food grade product. This is a great natural toner for sensitive skin that has hydrating, calming and soothing properties. Also available in a spray bottle.
Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Toner
Formulated specifically for sensitive skin, this natural hypoallergenic toner is infused with alpine rose stem cells, pomegranate, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, white tea extract and other soothing botanicals. It can be used as a toner to balance skin pH, reduce inflammation and lock in moisture, or as a daytime refresher.
Eminence Soothing Chamomile Tonique
This organic toner is packed with skin calming, soothing ingredients and antioxidants like chamomile, comfrey root, aloe vera, calendula, arnica, licorice, lemon juice, lavender, CoQ10 and nourishing oils. In addition to reducing redness and irritation (especially after exfoliating procedures), it also brightens skin tone and protects cells from damage.
Avene Thermal Spring Water
Naturally rich in postbiotic microflora, silicates and mineral salts, this thermal spring water comes from South France. Its neutral pH (7.5) and therapeutic and antioxidant properties help to reduce skin sensitivity, as well as comfort, calm and soften skin. Moreover, this thermal water has been used by dermatologist to treat eczema, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, burns, and rashes.
Aromatica Hyaluronic Acid Toner
This K-Beauty toner includes 5 different types of hyaluronic acid, which supply moisture to different layers of skin! And if this isn’t enough, the toner also includes moisture attracting, barrier repairing and nourishing agents like panthenol, ceramides, madecassoside and polysaccharide. Even though the packaging doesn’t display “EWG Verified” label, this natural toner for sensitive skin is listed on EWG website, and doesn’t contain skin irritants or allergens.
Pai Century Flower Soothing Tonic
Formulated specifically for redness prone sensitive skin, this toner quickly reduces redness and irritation, boosts hydration levels, and helps improve skin texture. The key ingredient in this toner is so called “living water” extracted from lotus and orange blossom plants, which is rich in minerals, vitamins and amino acids. In addition, this natural toner for sensitive skin mimics skin’s natural pH and also protects skin from free radical damage.
Knours Double Duty Mist
This toner naturally splits into 2 layers – the bottom layer made of aloe vera and soothing botanical extracts, while the top layer is rich in oils and moisturizing ingredients. Depending on your skin needs, you can shake the toner to mix two layers or not shake and use only the bottom layer. In addition to hydrating ingredients like aloe vera, jojoba oil, squalane, moutan peony root, the toner also includes Knours Komplex – a trademark plant blend that addresses signs of stressed skin. Overall, this EWG verified all natural toner protects skin’s natural barrier, nourishes, moisturizes and soothes dryness, irritation, and inflammation.
cocokind Organic Rosewater Facial Toner
USDA certified organic pure rosa damascena (rose) flower water aka 100% rose hydrosol. This organic rosewater serves as a great natural toner for sensitive skin. Not only is helps to calm and hydrate skin, reduces dryness and restore pH balance, but also it promotes healthy complexion. It has a light aroma of fresh rose petal, and the pH level of this products is between 5.0 and 6.0.
Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner Mist
This balancing, hydrating and refreshing facial toner is formulated with clean and soothing ingredients like aloe vera, CoQ10, hyaluronic acid, chamomile, sage, papaya, and cucumber. In addition to balancing, nourishing and rejuvenating, it also protects skin from environmental aggressors.
Skincare Tip: 10 worst ingredients for sensitive skin
Related: Organic toners for every skin type
Centella Asiatica Serum As Effective Soothing Solution
Types Of Toners
Overall, all toners can be divided into three main categories: toner (can also be labeled as tonique, tonic, toning lotion, rose water or rose hydrosol), thermal spring water and face mist/spray. Even though all these water-based solutions can act as toner, they differ by the mineral composition and concentration of the active ingredients.
Toner is a water-based liquid with active ingredients that tightens pores, tones, balances skin pH level, locks in moisture, and hydrates skin. It is usually made by infusing botanical extracts, minerals, essential oils, or by distilling plants, flowers, and fruits. Depending on the packaging, toner can be sprayed on the skin or applied with the help of cotton rounds.
Thermal (spring) water is water that is highly rich in minerals and comes from hot springs. Unlike toners, thermal water is not infused or distilled, but is naturally enriched with minerals. It has hydrating, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, and can be used as toner, or to set up makeup and refresh skin throughout the day. Usually facial thermal spring water comes in a spray form. It is best for dry and sensitive skin, and is also a great option for dry climates (including air planes and office) or cold temperatures.
Face mist/spray is a refreshing water-based liquid that you spray on your face. It is similar to toner but is less concentrated and contains milder ingredients. Unlike most toners, face mist can be used several times throughout the day to refresh skin or set up makeup.
Hobson E. “Skincare fundamentals: Toners.” The International Dermal Institute, May 2019
Hormann H, Korting H.C. “Evidence for the efficacy and safety of topical herbal drugs in dermatology: Part I: Anti-inflammatory agents.” Phytomedicine, Sep. 1994
Misery, L, Loser, K, Stander, S. “Sensitive skin.” Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, Feb. 2016, Vol. 30, Issue S1.
Thring T.S, Hili P. & Naughton D. P. “Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells.” Journal Of Inflammation, 2011, Vol. 8