LIKE MANY QUESTIONABLE past decisions, it’s easy to point an accusing finger at alcohol – including our adolescent use of toners. Packed with offending ingredients, they stripped our skin of vital moisture and ultimately turned a generation against the post-cleansing step.
But the tide is turning. Water-like textures (more elegantly called “essences” in Asian skincare regimens) have grown up and rebranded with more effective ingredients.
“A post-cleansing essence softens, balances and rehydrates the skin, priming it for the application of serums, oils and hydrators,” says skincare therapist Melanie Grant. “And because the formula is lighter, and therefore smaller in molecular weight, there’s more effective penetration into the deeper layers of the skin, without leaving any film or residue.”
So what exactly can a toner do in 2018? Protect, hydrate, exfoliate, brighten — the list goes on. Both Chanel’s Le Tonique and Payot’s Suprême Jeunesse act as an antioxidant plus hydrator.
The latter floods skin with hyaluronic acid and five flower extracts to defend from oxidative stress, while Chanel uses blue micro-algae to protect cells from ageing pollution, and marine salicornia extract to moisturise.
Kiehl’s has enlisted the power of skin brightening vitamin C in their latest launch, Clearly Corrective Brightening & Soothing Treatment Water, which, combined with liquorice root extract, effectively improves skin clarity and tone.
If combination skin is a concern, reach for Grant’s go-to, Biologique Recherche P50. “I love the multiple benefits that P50 provides in one simple step,” she says. “It rebalances the PH of the skin, exfoliates, brightens and deep cleanses all in one swipe of a cotton round.”
But perhaps the biggest sign these toners have serious ambitions is the noticeable absence of alcohol. So responsible, right?