Friday, 28 August 2009

Paula Begoun: Do toners tone?

I thought this was an interesting article that might be helpful for all :)

Do toners tone?
By Paula Begoun

In reality, toners—also referred to as astringents, clarifiers, refiners, fresheners, and tonics—don’t tone anything. At least not by the dictionary definition of “tone,” which refers to the “normal firmness of a tissue or an organ.” The term “toner” is a caprice invented by the cosmetics industry and, therefore, it can mean anything they want it to. I have heard that toners do everything from balance the skin and close pores to deep-clean and prepare the skin for other products. They do none of that. In fact, toners of any kind do not close pores, they do not deep-clean pores, and they do not reduce oil production. If toners could do any of that, given the repeated daily use of these items by most women, who would have a visible pore left on their face?

There are no ingredients in toners that can firm skin and return it to its normal state. What well-formulated toners can do is help reduce inflammation, add antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, and cell-communicating ingredients to skin, soothe skin after cleansing, help remove any last traces of makeup, and impart some lightweight moisturizing ingredients to skin. All of those things can have a beautiful, significant impact on the appearance of your skin and can make a huge difference but you still haven’t “toned” anything. Nevertheless, the word “toner” has stuck and is commonly accepted by consumers which is why it is used so often in the cosmetics industry.

Regrettably, not all toners are created equal, and many are terribly formulated, especially those containing alcohol, meaning they have a real capacity to cause irritation, redness, and dryness. No matter what toners are called (astringent, freshener, pore cleanser, clarifying lotion, witch hazel, and so on), and whether they are inexpensive or expensive—if they contain irritants they are bad for skin.

When toners don’t contain irritants they can still fall flat when they are poorly formulated and lack any real beneficial ingredients for skin (such as antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, or cell-communicating ingredients). Your toner should not only be free of irritants but it should also be filled with state-of-the-art ingredients for your skin. If they’re not, why bother (especially if the toner you’re considering is expensive)?

It is best if the toner is fragrance-free, but those are hard to find. I am also pleased to state that all of the toners in my Paula’s Choice line meet the standards outlined above for what a state-of-the-art toner needs to be effective for skin.

Summary: Many irritant-free toners are a fine alternative as an extra cleansing step after cleaning the skin with a water-soluble cleanser. Toners won’t close pores and they won’t deep-clean, but depending on the formulation they can leave the face feeling soft and smooth, remove the last traces of makeup or oil, reduce or eliminate irritation, provide antioxidant protection, soothe the skin, and lightly moisturize skin. For some skin types, a toner can be the only moisturizer you need to use (especially during summer).

Basic directions: After cleansing the face, soak a large cotton ball or pad with the toner and gently stroke it over the face and neck. Do not rinse.
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