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Ingredients to Look For In Toner and Makeup

What ingredients should your toner, makeup, and other products contain? Here's what to look for. Choose healthy, quality products for great results.

The Best Toner and Beauty Product Ingredients

If you're looking to add toner to your skincare routine, you're probably curious about the wide range of active ingredients you have to choose from. Like many skin products, each toner formula is different. Most are designed to tackle one particular skin issue, like redness, dryness, or visible aging.

It's important to note that the best toner and makeup for YOU are the products that suit your skin type. What's perfect for you may not be perfect for your college roommate, and vice versa. For example, people with oily skin will want to rely on toners that combat excessive sebum, while someone prone to acne would want a toner that clears pores.

But what makes a toner "anti-aging," "anti-acne," or "anti-inflammatory"? The unique mix of essential oils, extracts, chemicals, and other ingredients in each product work together to treat specific skin conditions. Like toner, many high-quality makeup products also contain oils or extracts that can have a nourishing effect on the skin. By carefully selecting your products, you can take care of your skin while perfecting your night-out look.

(Here's a hint: If you're not sure where to start, pick out a toner that addresses a condition you're particularly concerned about. If you're happy with the results, expand your makeup collection based on the active ingredients in that toner!)

What active ingredients should I look for based on my skin?

When choosing a toner, many have helpful label buzzwords like "anti-inflammatory" or "anti-aging." It's a safe bet to choose toners specifically designed to treat one condition or another. If you're not sure, take a look at the active ingredients listed on the bottle. By narrowing down a few specific ingredients you're interested in—such as smells you like, oils you know have a great impact on your skin, or treatments you've tried in other products—you can choose a range of products that will be perfect for YOU.

Here are some of the most common active ingredients to look out for in toners and other skincare products, as well as the skin conditions they're usually included to treat:

  • Aloe or aloe vera: Used most often to combat oily skin, aloe is a gentle, antibacterial additive that can also be used for dry or sensitive skin.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol is typically added to toners for a more intense cleansing quality. However, it should be avoided by people with dry skin, since alcohol tends to dry out the skin even more.
  • Apple cider vinegar: In its raw form, apple cider vinegar helps balance the skin's natural pH levels. It's typically used in toners and products designed to combat oily skin.
  • Aspen bark: This gentle extract is best for people with sensitive or rough skin. It softens and preserves the skin's natural elasticity, so it's also a good ingredient in anti-aging products.
  • B3 (or niacinamide): Used to combat dry skin, Vitamin B3 helps the skin retain moisture.
  • Chamomile: Like other tea extracts, chamomile is mainly included when a product aims to combat facial redness or inflammation. (Plus, it smells amazing!)
  • Charcoal: Charcoal is one of those "wonder ingredients" that has taken the health and beauty world by storm. Activated charcoal is a natural antioxidant and exfoliant. When added to toner, it exfoliates the skin and traps toxins and bacteria that can then be washed away.
  • Citrus oils (or Vitamin C boosters), such as orange, lemon, and grapefruit: Vitamin C is a great ingredient for toners and other products aimed at anti-aging. It brightens the skin and adds in much-needed nourishment.
  • Coconut milk, coconut water, or coconut oil: Coconut oil is my personal favorite! Coconut is great for moisture and hydration, as well as getting a healthy glow back into your skin. It's great for people with sensitive skin (like me) who want a cleansing, fresh experience without an intense scrub.
  • Green tea (matcha): Green tea is a natural antioxidant, which makes it great for combating inflammation.
  • Hyaluronic acid: This acid, which the body naturally produces, can be added into toners for an additional hydration boost that locks in moisture.
  • Mint (peppermint, spearmint, etc.): Mint has a cooling effect on reddened, inflamed skin. It's also helpful to remove excess oil without drying out the skin.
  • Pomegranate: Besides smelling incredible, pomegranate oil is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
  • Resveratrol: This chemical additive is packed with antioxidants for anti-aging serums.
  • Rosewater (or rose oil): Rose is a blessing for anyone with sensitive or acne-prone skin. This natural ingredient can be applied in various forms to combat acne, balance the skin's natural oils, and soften the skin.
  • Seaweed: Ew, seaweed in my makeup? Try it! Seaweed's organic makeup gives it impressive moisturizing power. It can also be used in some exfoliants.
  • Tea tree oil: This antibacterial oil is great for people who need a deep cleanse but don't want to damage or dry out sensitive skin. (Added bonus: It smells really good!)
  • Witch hazel: Witch hazel is one of those ingredients you'll start to see everywhere once you've heard its name. It's a natural astringent, which means it cleans the skin, tightens the pores, and dries out oil all in one. It's an amazing—and popular—addition to toners!

Resources— Dermstore, Skincare Ox, Well Insiders

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