A little bit of everything

Thrift Stop: Homemade Toners

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After reading this post, hopefully you will have felt like you’ve had a mini revelation, or at least can sense the cash you’ll be saving and feel the delight from the  toxins you’ll be saving your skin from. That’s right, I’m here to address that second step of every good facial routine: toner.

This post is all about debunking the myths, empowering the DIY-er in you, and putting some money back into your bank account (a fair bit, actually).

Ever looked at the back of one of your toner bottles? Ever tried to read that hard-to-pronounce list of ingredients? There’s a reason they make the print so small. And all those parabens and PEGs and nasty chemicals are doing more harm than good for your body, not to mention their contribution to the destruction of the environment. As a general rule of thumb for all of your cosmetics, if it has any of David Suzuki’s “Dirty Dozen” in it, avoid it.

Now there’s always the option of simply ditching your pricey chemical-loaded toners, and some of you may not even use toner as part of your daily routine, but what is their real purpose?

There are various claimed functions of toners, but the most agreed upon ones are that it:

  1. Cleanses the skin (beyond what your normal cleanser will do)
  2. Restores the pH balance of your skin (which is important for overall skin health and preventing all sorts of disorders from eczema to acne)
  3. Acts as an anti-inflammatory
  4. Closes your pores (although this one is more contested)

But here’s the crazy part, all of these results can be achieved through two natural ingredients. Yeah, two. And guess what? They’re not complicated chemicals that double as risks for causing cancer, but basic natural ingredients that you can find at your local drugstore: witch hazel and rose water.


Witch hazel is a natural astringent, meaning that it further cleanses the skin by constricting your pores and closing them up, and it also reduces inflammation. This means that it is particularly useful for those of us who are acne prone.

Most commercial products use alcohol as their astringent, which can be harsh on the skin and can quickly dry it out. To compensate for that, manufacturers will load toners up with chemical-laden moisturizing agents, equaling a mess of ingredients that conflict and counteract each other.

Rose water is a very gentle toning ingredient that also acts as an anti-inflammatory, and provides a natural moisturizing source. It has also been suggested that it shrinks pores and prevents wrinkles (by keeping skin healthy and balanced I suppose). and is a preferred ingredient for those with dry or sensitive skin.

In making your own toner, the recipe will all depend on the type of skin you have. If you have oilier skin like me, then you add more witch hazel than rose water, but if you have drier, more sensitive skin like my mom, then you use more rose water than witch hazel. Just play around with the proportions until you find one that makes your skin happy.

I also add a few drops of lavender oil to mine to make it smell beautiful. So that’s three ingredients for me – a far cry from the chemistry dictionary on the back of my old toners.


And want to know my (second) favourite part? All the money I save!! At one point I used to shell out CAD$30 for a 400 mL bottle of Clinique “Clarifying Lotion”. Up until I started using my homemade toner I was paying CAD$11 for 200 mL of Nivea’s “Pure and Natural” toner. I can’t believe the unnecessary cost I was paying for something I could make at home that would be better for me.

A 250 mL bottle of witch hazel will cost you about $6. And a 250 mL bottle of rose water will cost you about the same (or if you’re more ambitious, you can make your own!). I worked out the pricing, and a 250 mL batch of homemade toner will cost you $4.80! That’s under half the price of anything else!

I save half of my money, see better results, and avoid the disease-causing chemicals that companies mask with claims of performing skin wonders behind a brand we are conditioned to think is “high quality”. I’ve been using my toner for about 2 weeks now, and not exaggerating or overemphasizing, my skin has never looked so clear and glowing.

I really hope you all give this a try. There’s really no harm and you can see for yourself the difference in your skin’s complexion and overall health.

There are also so many variations of homemade toners you can try – this is just the most basic one.  Do your research, and then go have fun and experiment!

Happy dilettanteing =)


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