Our Skincare Experts Tested & Compared the Best of the Best
2021 Top 3 Hydrating Acne-Fighting Toners
Our #1 Pick Helped Us Clear Breakouts, Shrink Pores, And Reduce Oiliness
Disclaimer: This article is not sponsored by any of the brands/products mentioned. We independently research, purchase, test, and compare the best products that meet our standards for pregnant and nursing mothers. Always consult with your doctor.
Most acne-fighting toners are ridden with harsh, skin drying alcohols that can cause more harm than good. Acne and oily skin, especially on mature skin (people over the age of 35), is also caused and exacerbated by the skin being dehydrated. Our top 3 toners work smarter to control oiliness by replenishing your skin with the water-based hydration that acne-prone, oily skin is craving.
Ask any esthetician or dermatologist and they will strongly recommend using a toner after face cleansing. After discovering our top 3 cleansers for hormonal acne, we wanted to continue with our search for the best toner for clear, poreless, dewy not oily skin. We need a balanced toner that swipes away any leftover impurities, oil, and acne-causing bacteria while providing hydration.
For mature, acne-prone skin, we want a toner that does it all:
1) Helps remove any leftover impurities even after thorough cleansing,
2) Provides mild exfoliation to remove pore-clogging dead skin cells and improve the absorption of skincare products,
3) Contains acne bacteria-fighting ingredients,
4) Restores the skin’s pH to maintain a healthy skin barrier that can hold onto hydration,
5) Hydrates the skin after cleansing and does not leave a tight feeling in the skin,
6) Helps reduce the look of pores
If you are not seeing clearer, brighter skin day after day from your skincare routine, it might be time to upgrade. Acne and oily skin can take months to clear but by using the right skin care products you can help soothe breakouts sooner.
Whether you are dealing with hormonal acne, acne caused by wearing masks, combination skin (dry in some areas, oily and acne-prone in other areas of the face), or mild breakouts all of a sudden, we understand your frustrations and are here to help.
Our top 3 tested and proven multi-tasking toners for mature, acne-prone skin are available at Sephora and free of ingredients that could cause more harm than good.
Ultimately, our #1 pick does all 6 functions, avoids the 3 common acne-triggering ingredients, and is safe for pregnant and nursing mothers. Even after your skin is cleared up, our #1 pick is still hydrating enough to use daily on normal skin types to help keep breakouts a thing of the past.
3 Ingredients To Look For In A Toner for Oily Skin
Acne is caused primarily by acne-causing bacteria such as (P. acnes), the buildup of dead skin cells clogging pores, and excess oil usually triggered by dehydrated skin. We discovered the 3 types of ingredients that all of our top toners had in common, which directly combat these 3 acne triggers:
- Natural Antibacterial Ingredients: invigorating tea tree oil, spa-essential eucalyptus oil, and refreshing rosemary water, these naturally-sourced and minimally processed ingredients work effectively like benzoyl peroxide to help clear acne-causing bacteria without the harsh dryness.
- Pore Unclogging Mild Exfoliants: using a facial scrub or exfoliating facial mask may be too harsh while you have active breakouts. Over-exfoliating can damage the skin barrier and cause dryness. Instead, try daily, gentle exfoliation by using a toner soaked cotton pad for clear, baby smooth skin.
- Oil-free Hydrating Ingredients: instead of an alcohol base, the top 3 toners use a hydrating and soothing glycerin base. Although glycerin is common and affordable, it is not to be overlooked as an effective hydrator for even sensitive skin types. Our #1 pick even has sodium hyaluronate for powerful, lasting hydration.
Dehydrating our skin by over-cleansing and stripping away that essential moisture damages our skin barrier by disrupting our skin’s microbiome and can cause premature fine wrinkles to start developing.
Just as we mentioned in our top 3 cleansers for hormonal acne article: if your toner or any skin care product leaves your skin feeling tight a few minutes after using it, it is drying out your skin and causing more harm than good.
2 Common Ingredients to Avoid in Toners
Another major factor that our top 3 toners of 2021 shared is that they also are free of these 2 common skin care ingredients:
- Alcohol: Many toners that are allegedly formulated for acne-prone or oily skin use a base of alcohol (usually alcohol denat.)to reduce oil and give the look of poreless smooth skin. This is because alcohol causes skin dryness, which triggers our pores to shrink temporarily. Although certain alcohols in moisturizer formulas are not drying, alcohols in toners can cause a back-firing effect where the skin produces more oil.
- Menthol: Menthol gives our skin a minty, refreshing feeling that also works as an astringent to help shrink the look of pores. However, menthol in toners can cause skin dryness like alcohols do. Instead, look for natural peppermint (mentha piperita) to get the same refreshing feeling with all the antibacterial and astringent benefits without the damaging dryness.
Most toners in the market contain alcohol and/or menthol to give you the sensation and temporary visual of squeaky-clean, poreless skin. However, the after-effects and long-term consequences of skin dryness are not worth these short-lived benefits.
Using gentle, naturally sourced ingredients is key. We want to be as gentle as possible with our skin when dealing with acne and breakouts.
Especially with active breakouts, our skin is very sensitive and needs nourishing hydration.
Benzoyl peroxide is a common (yet skin drying) acne bacteria fighting ingredient. However, studies show that tea tree oil and rosemary oil may be just as effective but much more gentle (1). To learn more about tea tree oil for acne here.