Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Mahek Chawla (Dietitian & Nutritionist) on 22nd Jan 2021
Toners for dry skin - How to find the right toner
Well, too much has been said about what a toner is and what it does to your skin. For those of us who are still unaware of this product, let's do a quick recap.
Toner is a skincare product that is supposed to be used before a serum or moisturizer and after a cleanser. It changes the skin's pH level by penetrating the pores and changing the skin's acid mantle or pore-lining. Almost all toners have similar base ingredients compatible with other ingredients that vary according to your skin type.
Different formulations contain different concentrations of ingredients, but toners usually do not have many ingredients. If any toner does have a long list of ingredients, we'd recommend not to choose that. With advanced technology and knowledge, we today have access to so much information that we can skim through to know what might suit our skin.
Alcohol was earlier used in toners as a base, but it is not used anymore due to its very drying property. Though some toners contain alcohol as isopropyl alcohol, they are not very helpful for dry skin.
What causes dry skin?
The primary reason for skin to become dry is the loss of moisture from the surface. Dry weather, hot water, too much exfoliation, inadequate fluid intake, etc., can make your skin dry.
Extreme dry skin cases include flaking, itchiness, scaling, etc.; this condition is called dermatitis. For people with mildly dry skin, toner and moisturizer can work, but toner rich and potent humectants are needed for people with extreme conditions.
Now let's broaden our range of ingredients to look for, especially for dry skin.
the age-old face mist our grandmothers have told us about is an excellent hydration source as it leaves no drying effect on the skin. A study also reported that it has antibacterial activity against certain bacteria strains like E Coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, B. subtilis, Staph. Moreover, aureus is also an analgesic that can calm down the area you feel irritated and painful. There are many attributes given to this ingredient without leaving your skin feel dehydrated or dry.
Aloe vera -
this homegrown plant deals with all your skin related issues, be it acne, mild pigmentation, sunburns, hair growth, dull skin, et al. A 2008 study has documented an entire review on how aloe vera can be highly beneficial for the body. Particularly for dry skin, it has attributes like moisture-retaining, glowing, providing the cementing material for cells, etc., because it has certain phenolic compounds called anthraquinones responsible for its abilities. Additionally, it also has many vitamins like C and E, minerals, sugar, and antioxidants, making it a multifunctional ingredient.
Aloe vera is even/also very mild and has high compatibility with other products, making it a perfect base for adding concentrated ingredients.
Calendula extract can improve the overall texture of your skin. One study found that a cream consisting/containing calendula extract may promote skin hydration and firmness, but further research is needed to apply this ingredient better. Some studies have also proved that calendula can deal with rashes due to eczema. It has also been used in the past to heal wounds, so there are many OTC creams available containing calendula.
Cucumber juice or extract
is one of those vegetables with a major proportion of its nutrient composition as water. It is said that it quenches the thirst of cells. Cucumbers are 95% water, and a cup of sliced cucumber can satisfy your thirst. Many organic herbal brands include cucumber as their functional ingredient in toners. Anecdotal studies have also reported how well it works as a hydrant.
another ingredient included in almost all the products we use, from your soap to cream. It is a humectant, which means it helps moisturize the skin and retain that moisture. It also attracts moisture from the air. Thus, it can work well for all skin types, but it's humectant characteristics/properties make it ideal for dry skin that needs more moisture.
Hyaluronic acid -
also known as hyaluronan, is a clear and naturally found acid present in the dermal layers of the skin. It can make the skin supple and firm by providing moisture to it. Its widely known for its ability to bind water molecules up to 1000 times its own molecular weight. Thus it is used in many toner, serums, and fillers to make your skin look more hydrated.
A study also showed that when women applied hyaluronic acid for about two weeks, they saw a drastic change in hydration and elasticity.
these are lipid or fat molecules that are naturally present and produced in the body. They help your skin retain the structure by binding moisture to the skin and making the skin a protective barrier. They are technically known as sphingolipids. This term includes various ceramides that are included in products today. Toners have started incorporating ceramides as well to give a high-quality source of moisture.
Propylene glycol -
Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. It is used to absorb extra water & maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products. It is a solvent for items like food, colors & flavors. Some other names for propylene glycol are 1,2-dihydroxy propane, 1,2-propanediol, methyl glycol, & trimethyl glycol. So when you flip a bottle of toner, see if this ingredient is present, as many times synthetic ingredients are masked by other ingredients. Such ingredients' concentration is usually not very high, so they are present later in the list.
many ingredients like glycol, lactates, etc., are present in toners, which are types of alcohol. Although they provide moisture and balance the ph of the skin, they can also lead to dryness in some individuals. Small amounts do not harm the skin at all.
How do I know which ingredient is best for me?
Well, There's no such guide to help you choose the best toner for your skin but collecting information from various trusted sources and understanding the science behind ingredients and your skin type can help you deal with it very well.
Also, suppose components of a product are compatible with each other and do not have any contraindications with the products you regularly use. In that case, you can always lookout for a toner that has a combination of ingredients.
Who can use these ingredients?
Anyone who has dry skin irrespective of age.
When can you expect results?
There is no specific period in which you will gain supple skin back. It requires external as well as internal factors for your skin to regain its plump and soft texture.
How many times should one use a toner for dry skin?
Toners for dry skin can be used as a face mist that is as and when you require. Twice to thrice a day will not cause any harm.
How can you increase your fluid intake?
Manipulating and experimenting with skincare seems risky, for products that we use may or may not work, but your food and diet can be experimented with.
- Drinking a min. of 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.
- Including healthy visible fats like nuts, ghee, vegetable oils, etc.
- Eating essential fats via fruits like avocados, custard apples, banana, flax seed, etc.
- A bowl of greens must include fruits and vegetables with high water content like lettuce, cucumber, watermelon, etc.
A holistic approach towards taking care of your skin will reap the benefits for the skin and the entire body. Carefully choosing the right ingredients while buying a product can save a lot of time and money. Hence, look out for the above-mentioned ingredients and keep yourself hydrated.