If you have dehydrated skin like me, you’ll love hydrating toners (if you haven’t already collected a massive stash!). These watery products contain humectants which hold onto water and slow down evaporation. Confusingly, they aren’t always labelled as toners – you’ll also find them called essences, waters and lotions, and while there are minor differences in texture and performance, they’re all pretty much the same category. I apply these before or after actives, and I haven’t really found a big difference in the effect either way.
After applying the toner, you can seal the watery concoction in with something heavier on top, like a moisturiser containing emollients and occlusives. This method of layering has done wonders for keeping my skin hydrated and bouncy.
Since my last set of hydrating toner reviews, I’ve tried out some more hydrating toners: Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner, Shu Uemura Tsuya Skin Refining Vita-Glow Lotion [Moist], Clinelle PureSWISS Hydracalm Lotion and A’kin Hydrating Mist Toner.
Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner
Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner ($21.99 USD for 180 mL, Amazon, Wishtrend) is a cult product in the K-beauty community. After Wishtrend sent me this to try, I can see why! It’s super hydrating but doesn’t feel heavy, and because it’s so light it’s very easy to integrate into a routine. As well lots of humectants (butylene glycol, betaine, sodium hyaluronate, dimethyl sulfone, natto gum), it has some caprylic/capric triglyceride, a purified form of coconut oil. In terms of actives, there’s Centella asiatica extract which promotes healing, and licorice root extract which is anti-inflammatory and fades hyperpigmentation. Natto gum can also work as an antioxidant. Dimethyl sulfone can potentially reduce sebum and reduce inflammation, but there isn’t much evidence so it’s more of a bonus.
Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Dimethyl Sulfone, Betaine, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Natto Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Disodium EDTA, Centella Asiatica Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Polyquaternium-51, Chlorphenesin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Carbomer, Panthenol, Arginine, Luffa Cylindrica Fruit/Leaf/Stem Extract, Beta-Glucan, Althaea Rosea Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Lysine HCl, Proline, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Acetyl Methionine, Theanine, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Copper Tripeptide-1
Shu Uemura Tsuya Skin Refining Vita-Glow Lotion [Moist]
Shu Uemura Tsuya Skin Refining Vita-Glow Lotion [Moist] ($72 AUD for 150 mL) is a glycerin and butylene glycol rich toner. There are a few unusual ingredients as well, like bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane and methyl gluceth-10, which soften and hydrate skin. There are a bunch of actives at low concentrations too, like salicylic acid, adenosine and hyaluronic acid.
There’s alcohol in this, which would normally run the risk of being dehydrating. But I haven’t had any issues with it at all. It’s far enough down the ingredients list, and it’s overwhelmed with enough humectants that it doesn’t seem to make a difference. The alcohol is very slightly noticeable smell-wise, but I suspect it may actually be beneficial in helping the humectants penetrate deeper into the skin. There’s also a “Fresh” version available that I’ll be trying out over summer.
Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol Denat., Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, PPG-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Methyl Gluceth-10, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Phenylethyl Resorcinol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Polyglyceryl-5 Laurate, PEG/PPG/Polybutylene Glycol-8/5/3 Glycerin, Sodium Methyl Stearoyl Taurate, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Rhamnose, Disodium EDTA, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Faex Extract, Adenosine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, BHT, Paeonia Albiflora Flower Extract, Parfum.
Clinelle PureSWISS Hydracalm Lotion
Clinelle PureSWISS Hydracalm Lotion ($14.99 AUD for 150 mL, Priceline) is one of the few hydrating toners I’ve seen in drugstores in Australia (besides the Burt’s Bees one). This has a very slightly thicker texture than the other toners here. There’s allantoin, a skin soothing and healing ingredient, and Cassia angustifolia seed polysaccharide which contains “natural hyaluronic acid”. According to Clinelle’s trials, this hydrates far better than synthetic hyaluronic acid (I always take the brand’s own trials with a grain of salt though). It also has no alcohol which means you don’t need to worry about dehydration.
I’m really impressed by the price and the fact it’s even available in Australian stores! My only complaint is that the bottle is a bit weird and fiddly to use – it has a twist top with an extra sealing cap inside that takes a bit of effort to remove.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Allantoin, Chlorphenesin, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Benzoate, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Carrageenan, O-Cymen-5-ol, Sodium Hydroxide, Propylene Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Hydrolyzed Algin, Maris Aqua (Sea Water), Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide, Citric Acid, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Hypericum Perforatum Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Tilia Cordata Flower Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, BHT.
A’kin Hydrating Mist Toner
A’kin Hydrating Mist Toner ($19.99 AUD for 150 mL) is a simple spray toner that contains coconut water and glycerin for hydration, and green tea and chamomile extracts to soothe the skin. I found this a little light on hydrating action, but that makes it really handy for daytime use when you don’t want anything too sticky on your skin. The spray is really convenient. I keep this on my desk at work to refresh my skin in the middle of the day without disturbing my make-up.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Water, Glycerin, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Green Tea), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Juice, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Citric Acid, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Potassium Sorbate, Linalool, Limonene, Geraniol.
What are your favourite hydrating toners? Send me your recommendations!
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