How to Make Easy Natural Skin Toner
hen I was in my teens and early twenties, I had severe acne. Skin toners were an essential part of my twice-daily skincare routine, but there was nothing natural about it. After the acne went away and I became a busy and sleep-deprived mother of babies, my skincare routine got tossed aside along with all my other self-care routines.
In my 30s I started thinking of taking care of my skin again. I guess the babies were sleeping through the night by then. Ha! I no longer appreciated the drying effect of the Sea Breeze toner of my teens. I tried some expensive brands that worked great, but they were, um, expensive, and I was a stay-at-home mom trying to save my pennies! So I decided cleansing and moisturizing were good enough. No more toner.
Now in my 50s, I’m an empty-nester and no longer affected if my kids sleep through the night or not. Haha. (I’m cracking myself up over here.) Still using the inexpensive store-bought face soap and moisturizer, I got tired of the continually clogged pores on my face. I wanted something gentle and natural without all the chemicals in store-bought skin toners. So I learned how to make natural skin toner for myself. The basic recipes are so easy, I know that you can make them, too!
- Why Natural Skin Toner Is Good for Your Skin
- Keeping it Simple with Witch Hazel Face Toner
- Rose Petal Face Toner
- Apple Cider Vinegar Skin Toner
- Make Your Own Queen of Hungary’s Water – An Herbal Skin Toner
- Herbal Water Infusion Natural Skin Toner
- Bay Rum Aftershave – Toner for Men
Why Natural Skin Toner Is Good for Your Skin
Skin Toners are generally astringents. I always thought of astringents as being drying because, at first, that is how it feels. But astringents are so much more! Basically, astringents tighten and strengthen your skin, contracting and toning it to help restore its normal function to keep pathogens out and fluids all while reducing inflammation. Now you’re on board with skin toners, right?!
This doesn’t mean that the stronger the astringent or skin toner the better. Too strong of an astringent can be very constricting and can rob your skin of moisture. For example, rubbing alcohol is very astringent and drying. If the base of your toner is rubbing alcohol, chances are you are losing moisture rather than preserving it. I liked the alcohol bases when I was in high school because it cleaned all of the excess oil off my face, but what I later learned is that the dryness signaled to my body to increase the oil production to make up for all the dryness. Not cool!
Keeping it Simple with Witch Hazel Face Toner
What IS witch hazel, anyway? Witch Hazel is actually a shrub you find in the woods. The bark and small branches are actually infused or distilled in water. You can make it yourself if you are so inclined, but you can also buy it at most any grocery store or pharmacy and it’s inexpensive. As a preservative, the bottles of witch hazel at the store contain 14% rubbing alcohol. It’s not so much alcohol to make it dry, but just enough to make the witch hazel infusion shelf-stable. Witch hazel makes a mild and safe skin toner for most people. Just put some on a cotton ball and swab your face with it. Super easy!
Below is a great deal on a 4 pack of good quality witch hazel.
Rose Petal Face Toner
The Rose Petal Face Toner that I’m using now is so simple to make, smells lovely, and is very gentle on the skin. Roses are also astringent, very anti-inflammatory and smell lovely. To make Rose Petal Face Toner simply fill any size glass jar with rose petals and cover them completely with witch hazel. Make sure that the rose petals you use have not been sprayed with any chemicals. You can use roses from your yard, wild roses or dried roses (which you can purchase online or at a local natural food store) or a mixture of dried and fresh rose petals. You can get 4 oz organic rose petals below. The more fragrant the rose petals are, the more fragrant your toner will be. Infuse the petals in the witch hazel for 2-6 weeks in a cool, dark place.
You can find Organic Rose petals here.
Apple Cider Vinegar Skin Toner
Apple cider vinegar is another inexpensive skin toner. It’s great for your skin and will make it feel very soft! To make an Apple Cider Vinegar Skin Toner, dilute one part ACV with two parts purified water. (I don’t recommend tap water if you have city water. Consider purchasing distilled water for this purpose instead. It is less than $1.00 for a gallon.) Of course, the problem with ACV is the smell! Phew! It’s strong, right?! The smell does go away, though, and you can wipe your face off with a damp rag after leaving the ACV on there for a minute or two. Try this on your hair, as well! It will make it soft and helps clean any residue left from conditioners and dry shampoos!
Make Your Own Queen of Hungary’s Water – An Herbal Skin Toner
This easy to make formula is sold in department stores for a lot of money, but you can easily make it yourself very inexpensively once you collect the ingredients. All of these dried herbs can be found in my local food coop and also on ebay and other online stores. The exact origin of Queen of Hungary’s Water is debated, but it has been around for hundreds of years. It is said that the gypsies would use this as a cure-all using it as a mouthwash, hair rinse, aftershave, headache remedy, footbath or whatever ails you (for external use only).
This utilizes both apple cider vinegar and witch hazel. Of course you can adjust the amounts of herbs and even add another herb that you love. Some add a couple of drops of essential oil. All of the amounts are listed in parts so that it’s easy to figure out if you want to make a small or large batch. I got my recipe from Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. (Printable recipe is at the bottom of the article.)
6 parts lemon balm
4 parts chamomile
4 parts roses
3 parts calendula
3 parts comfrey leaf
1 part lemon peel
1 part sage
Vinegar (apple cider or wine vinegar) to cover the herbs
Witch Hazel or Rose Water
Essential Oil of Rose or Lavender (optional)
Place the herbs in a wide-mouth jar and fill it with enough vinegar that it rises an inch or two above the herb mixture. Cover tightly and set it in a warm spot for 2-3 weeks.
Strain out the herbs.
To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 2/3 to 1 cup of either rose water or witch hazel. Add a drop or two of the essential oil if desired and rebottle.
This doesn’t need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely.
Herbal Water Infusion Natural Skin Toner
If you want a milder or easier homemade skin toner, consider making an herbal infusion with an astringent herb. It sounds fancy, but an herbal infusion is just a strong tea. Instead of steeping the tea or herb for three to five minutes, you are going to steep or infuse the tea for a longer time. Twenty minutes may be enough time, but you could infuse it for up to four hours to extract even more of the nutritional value of the herb. The infusion will be good for only two or three days if kept in the refrigerator, so I make just a cup of it and use it up quickly. This would make a great toner to use for your whole body and hair.
Bay Rum Aftershave – Toner for Men
Aftershave is a toner for guys helping to tighten and firm their skin. This idea came from Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. The amounts of the ingredients will vary depending on the size jar you use. She says to pack a wide-mouth canning jar with bay leaves (fresh, if possible), leaving a couple of inches of space at the top. Add ground or grated allspice, whole cloves, and grated ginger–just enough to give it a spicy aroma. Pour rum over the herbs until it is 1-2 inches above the herbs. Cover tightly and let set for 3-4 weeks in a warm place. Strain the herbs and rebottle. Add a few drops of bay essential oil, if desired, to intensify the aroma.
I like the spices and herbs to make my skincare products from Starwest Botanicals found here.
Astringent Herbs that Are Good for Your Skin
Lots of herbs are astringent and could make a good toner. You could infuse them in witch hazel, water or even apple cider vinegar. Some of these herbs you may be growing or could be growing in your yard. All are easy enough to buy online or at a health food store in the bulk section. A few common astringent herbs are Rose, Lemon Balm, Self-heal, Bayberry, Plantain (not the banana-type fruit), Thyme, Green or Black Tea, and Blackberry or Raspberry Leaf.
Starwest Botanicals has lovely herbs and teas for making your homemade skincare products.
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The Queen of Hungary’s Water
- Wide-mouth Mason Jar with lid, Fine Mesh Strainer
- 6 parts dried Lemon Balm leaves
- 4 parts dried Chamomile blossoms
- 4 parts dried Roses Miniature or Petals
- 3 parts dried Calendula blossoms
- 3 parts dried Comfrey leaves
- 1 part Lemon peel fresh or dried
- 1 part Rosemary
- 1 part Sage
- Vinegar, Apple Cider or Wine enough to cover herbs
- Witch Hazel or Rose Water
- Rose or Lavender Essential Oil Optional
- Place the herbs in a wide-mouth jar and fill it with enough vinegar that it rises an inch or two above the herb mixture.
- Cover tightly and set it in a warm spot for 2-3 weeks.
- Strain out the herbs.
- To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 2/3 to 1 cup of either rose water or witch hazel. Add a drop or two of the essential oil if desired and rebottle.
- This doesn't need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely.