So this is at least three months too late (!) but a friend of mine has asked me on a few occasions how to make a toner, and although a toner is fairly easy to make, there are so many options available that its not really something that can be summed up in 30 seconds.
The Politics of Tonerism*
Toners fill multiple roles in one’s skin routine: it evens out the tone of your skin, aids oil production, moisturizes, soothes, tightens pores and can sometimes aid problems such as flaky skin conditions or acne. Though of course not all toners do all these things at once, and generally speaking you should pick one relating to your skin type, the overall positive of making your own toner is that most DIY options are incredibly gentle on the skin and only use one or two ingredients. Generic toners can be incredibly harsh, and most people don’t need to use intensive treatments on their skin every day. In fact, most people don’t need to use a toner at all, particularly if you are very young or have no specific skin issues. For most people a good cleanser, moisturizer and SPF will suffice. A toner only needs to be added if you find yourself unsatisfied with your current skin routine. Keeping that in mind however, there are some people who consider their toner to be the main part of their beauty regimen. Rather than waffling on any further on the politics of tonerism, I’m going to dive right into a two different options for making your own.
Tea is one of the most basic homemade toner options and also the easiest. Quite simply, you pick a tea, brew 3-5 teabags in water (lukewarm, not boiling, or you will boil away the herbal goodness). Wait for it too cool and decant into your chosen container. In my opinion a spray bottle works best as you can spritz the toner directly onto your face, which feels refreshing and eliminates the need for cotton balls or pads. Some teas are more suitable for certain skin types than others, but there’s no reason to go out and buy a new box if you already have some in the house. Like I said, tea is incredibly gentle, and most will have a similar effect on your skin, but here is a basic run down of the most suitable teas for certain skin issues:
Green tea: known for its detoxifying qualities, green tea will work on all skins, helping to balance out sebum production and cleanse the face.
Peppermint tea: Peppermint is gently cooling and works best for those with combination-oily skin types. It is also known to help tighten pores
Chamomile tea: Chamomile works best for sensitive skins which are prone to redness as it has soothing qualities which will aid with itching and inflammation.
Black tea: Also known as English or Breakfast tea, the natural caffeine content in black tea will help to plump up the skin, making it good for mature or dryer skin types.
You can of course combine a few tea types and make your own concoction. Personally I’ve also tried: Rooibos, Nettle, ‘Morning Time’ tea by Heath&Heather and Green tea with lavendar. As of yet I haven’t found one that has had groundbreaking results, and all of them succeeded in balancing my combination skin out and making my skin look and feel smoother. Still, my personal favourite is peppermint.
Flower waters (also known as hydrosols):
This is a bit more difficult to DIY as it entails picking and distilling flower petals, which can be difficult to get hold of, particularly if you live in the city. Flower water is exactly what it sounds: water infused with the properties of flower petals. Rose water is the most popular kind of flower water, mainly because of the association roses have with Queen Cleopatra (who supposedly bathed in rose petals and goats milk). It is very effective at balancing out all skin types whilst also having soothing, moisturising and anti-again properties. Rose water can also be used to set makeup(!) and has an uplifting fragrance.
Lavender water is another option, and with its natural anti-bacterial properties it will work well for people with skin issues such as acne, hormonal redness and rosacia and very oily skins. Lavendar water is also very soothing on sunburnt skin.
Jasmine flower water is a pretty luxurious option, and if you have the option to make this I would advise trying it. Jasmine waters and essential oils can be expensive, and that is partly because this flower as anti-aging properties which elasticize and plump up the skin.
Orange blossom (Neroli) has a wonderful fragrance and is very hydrating on all skin types.
Chamomile water is soothing and also helps to diminish puffiness and dark circles. It also helps with nappy rash and eczema.
One of the easiest ways to make flower water is the Jar Method. Simply take a cupful of petals of the flower of your choice and combine them with distilled water in an airtight jar in a sunny area. Leave for one-three weeks, shaking the jar occasionally. When ready, drain the petals and decant. This method is easy but results in a less concentrated water.
This website has some of the best instructions on how to properly distill flower water (it says rose water, but this method works for all flowers):
It is also generally a great website.
Just like with the tea, you can combine several types of flower and make a mix. Do not buy pre-cut flowers from stalls as these tend to be tainted with pesticides; pick your own. Flowers are best picked in the morning, when they are fully in bloom. Wash your petals thoroughly before using them, and its is advisable to crush them a little using a pestle and mortar before distilling in order to release some of the nutrients.
Flower water is my favourite toner option as they tend to be more effective than tea. Also, the fragrance is luxurious and they can be used all over the body, including on the hair. I recently started using rose water and it smells delicious and is wonderfully cooling in the summer heat.
If you are worried about your toner going off, no matter what kind you try, keep it in the fridge or a dark, cool area to keep it preserved.
*This is almost definitely, certainly, probably positively not a real word.