Ruth Griffin: Tone up your beauty routine
It's the mystery sister to cleanser and moisturiser... this week we talk toner
Beauty vinegars are the latest addition to the toning family - but what are toners anyway, and do they work? This week we do a toner test run for you and check out the best options for every skin type…
Old-fashioned toners that were laced with harsh astringents and alcohol are, thankfully, by and large a thing of the past. Modern toners have been reformulated to provide more hydrating, soothing and nourishing skincare benefits and antioxidant ingredients. Toners have also had an image overhaul, with a dizzying array of new descriptions and acronyms ('facial mists', 'clarifiers', 'skin refreshers', etc). The main job for a toner is to restore the right pH balance to the skin (4.5/5 is ideal), remove the last traces of make-up and grime, and prep skin to help your moisturiser work better.
Full disclosure here: I'm not the biggest fan of toners - I do use them, but not daily, and only when I've worn a lot of make-up or my skin feels tired. A firm favourite is Pixi's Glow Tonic (see panel, right) but my absolute top option is no-nonsense, hard-working, natural rose water as a skin-softening toner (see Cheat vs Treat, below).
TREAT VS CHEAT
This is the most luxurious, gorgeously soothing and hydrating toning option - Sisley Botanical Floral Toning Lotion, €75, from department stores nationwide
My long-time, go-to, no-nonsense favourite skin-toning option - Pharmacy Brand Rose Water, €4.80, pharmacies nationwide
7 OF THE BEST TONERS
● Best for Teenagers
Kylie Jenner's favourite toner and face mister - she has raved about its skin benefits and has it on her travel beauty must-haves as a great way to keep her skin glowing and hydrated.
TRY Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater, €8.60, beautybay.com
● Best for Oily/Problem Skin
Oily skins potentially benefit the most from using a daily toner to help eliminate added sebum. This widely available Nivea formulation is a gem for cleansing skin without stripping necessary natural oils (without the latter, problem skin can actually deteriorate further).
TRY Nivea Refreshing Toner with Vitamin E and Hydra IQ, €4.99, pharmacies and supermarkets nationwide
This toner has reached cult status with beauty buffs (seriously, just Google its rave reviews!). It contains 5pc glycolic acid, which helps to nibble away at dead skin, and has aloe vera and ginseng to soothe. I like this, but to be honest I'd use it once a fortnight (my skin is too dry to benefit from daily use).
TRY Pixi Glow Tonic, €21.95, M&S
● Best for Dry Skin
Garnier has launched a new skincare line that uses over 96pc naturally derived skincare ingredients. One of their gems is their rose water-based toner.
TRY Garnier Naturals Soothing Botanical Toner with Rose Water, €5.35, from outlets nationwide
● For All Skin Types
Our skin can have different needs at different times of our cycle or the year and for those with combination skin. Our toner might work fine in the summer but feel obsolete in the winter. Step forward the cult-status Ole Hedriksen skin line. Choose from Nurture Me (hydrating toner), Truth Facial (energising and brightening) or Grease Relief (purifying and mattifying).
TRY Ole Hedriksen Face Waters €18.50 each, Debenhams nationwide
● Best for Mature Skin
This is a total treat for ageing/mature/dry skins. Very soft and soothing with hydrating apricot extract to add some much needed moisture to the toning part of our skincare routine.
TRY Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner, €29.50, from Debenhams nationwide and millies.ie
● Best Under Make-Up
With vitamin E, aloe leaf, natural oat and meadowsweet, this hydrating toner is more of a skin softener that optimises the effects of moisturiser than an astringent. It has the added benefit of looking great under make-up (no drying out or greasy look).
TRY Benefit Moisture Prep SPF 15 Toning Lotion, €32, department stores
DIY VINEGAR TONER RECIPE
● 2 small cups of filtered water
● 1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg is a great option)
● Mix together and store in a glass container or spray dispenser
● If you're not a fan of toners, this is also great as an overnight spot/pimple buster - just dab directly onto the blemish. The natural AHAs in the vinegar help erase pimples.
For sensitive skin, use ½ tbsp vinegar
Backstage beauty with Vogue Williams
The gorgeous Vogue Williams gives us a sneak backstage peek into her beauty bag...
What are your top five hero make-up products?
● Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillow Talk
● Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow Face Primer
● Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation 9
● Mac Prep and Prime Concealer
● The Balm Mary-Lou Manizer Luminiser
What's your daily skincare routine?
I'm a big fan of IMAGE skincare products - they really work for my skin. I use different cleansers from the range for morning and night. I cleanse first, and then apply a serum and moisturiser. I especially love their Vital C Hydrating Serum.
What do you think is the biggest beauty myth?
That you have to only use one certain product you might have read about. You have to do your own research and figure out what works for your skin.
What's the most common mistake we can make in our beauty regimes?
I think that sometimes women can put on too much make-up. They feel safer with a thicker foundation, but actually choosing a lighter foundation, and one where you can see a bit of your skin, looks better.
Do you use toners, and would you try the new 'beauty vinegars'?
No, I'm not a fan of toners - I don't do the whole three-step cleansing, toning and moisturising routine. For me, toners make my skin feel too tight - I don't like the feeling, so I wont be using the beauty vinegar. Anyway, I don't think I'd like the smell!
What's your top tool of the trade?
HD Brows: I swear by getting my eyebrows done. They give great definition to my face and stop me overplucking! HD Brows in Notting Hill, London, is my go-to brow salon. I go every few months.
Vogue is a member of laser hair removal specialist Thérapie Clinic's Beauty Squad. She is launching a national competition offering one lucky winner the chance to join the Squad, a beauty collective that inspires and encourages Irish women. Thérapie Clinic is asking entrants to make a video and submit it via therapieclinic.com/ contact-us by July 21. Entrants need to express why they want to join the #Therapie BeautySquad for a chance to win €5,000 worth of skin, laser and beauty treatments.