If you have a condition like rosacea, eczema, or dermatitis, or you’re just prone to an undiagnosed but stubborn flush, you may be under the impression that toners are simply not to be countenanced. But with any of the best toners for redness featured below, you, too, can benefit from a toner’s clarifying, smoothing, and rejuvenating powers. They’re all free of irritating alcohols, and instead contain ingredients that help tame redness and nourish dry skin, like aloe, rose water, and centella asiatica.
Even though these toners are super gentle, stick to using them once a day — if you have dry or sensitive skin, toning both in the morning and at night is probably too much. Press the toner into your skin with your fingers, rather than with a cotton pad. Not only is this a gentler application method (less rubbing = less risk of redness), but you’ll also mitigate product waste.
Get in on the toning game (safely!) with any of the six best gentle toners, listed below.
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1. The Cult Classic
The under-$15 price tag, the abbreviated ingredients list, the old-timey label that apparently hasn’t changed since its first appearance in 1847: Everything about Thayers Witch Hazel elegantly screams “cult classic.” And while the original witch hazel and rose petal formula is suitable for sensitive skin, this Unscented version takes the gentle factor one step further: Where the original formula has some natural fragrance in it, this has none whatsoever. Which lets the purified water, glycerin, aloe, and witch hazel in here do their jobs of calming and moisturizing even better, uninterrupted by potential irritants that may trigger redness.
2. Best For Dry, Flaky Skin
The ingredients list for this Paula’s Choice toner is a little long and looks a little intimidating, and sensitive-skinned folks should typically shy away from both those things. However! It’s thoughtfully designed to hydrate seriously dry skin and soothe irritation, and Amazon reviewers confirm that it works on both fronts. Lots of customers have reported that this cooling toner calms their rosacea/dermatitis/eczema/run-of-the-mill redness, evens out their skin tone, and makes their complexion look brighter. Paula’s Choice products usually do exactly what they say they will, and tend not to contain any unnecessary fillers or known chemical irritants, but it’s still a good idea to scan the ingredients list for any of your known allergens.
3. Best Organic Toner
As a natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, rose water is a great choice for soothing, clarifying, hydrating, and gently cleansing your skin. In other words: An ideal toner for sensitive skin that’s prone to redness. Even better if that rose water is certified organic by the USDA and distilled directly from fresh Bulgarian rose petals, like this rose water spray from Alteya is. Since it’s among the purest, cleanest rose water sprays you can get, this has lots of safe uses beyond toning, too. Try spritzing it in your hair, all over your body, or as an additive to any other skin care products you use.
4. Best Korean Toner
If not for mineral water as the first ingredient, this would look suspiciously like a serum or moisturizer for sensitive skin, not the soothing, softening, pH-balancing, hypoallergenic toner that it truly is. Centella asiatica leaf water, panthenol, allantoin, hyaluronic acid, and betaine round out the shortlist of ingredients here, which all work to subdue, hydrate, and strengthen compromised skin. This does contain butylene glycol, along with two other non-sensitizing preservatives, so skip it if you know you’re allergic to that ingredient.
5. Best Drugstore Toner
Drugstore toners are fairly hard to find, let alone drugstore toners formulated specifically with the most reactive skin types in mind. That makes this La Roche-Posay mist a real treasure. It literally contains one ingredient: The brand’s signature thermal spring water, which is rich in minerals and antioxidants that work to soothe, protect, and lightly tone skin. This is another all-purpose spray, thanks to its refreshing simplicity, so you can use pretty much any way you wish.
6. Author’s Pick
This Knours. toning mist is my go-to when my sensitive skin needs some extra coddling, which is honestly most of the time. The way it works is kind of genius. There’s an aloe vera-based layer at the bottom and a jojoba oil-based layer at the top, so if your skin is very dry, you can shake it to access that nourishing oil blend; otherwise, keep it as-is to access just that aloe. Shaken or not, a few spritzes leaves my skin feeling refreshed, revitalized, and just a little more glowy. That it also contains an actual cornucopia of soothing, brightening, and antimicrobial plant extracts (centella asiatica! Peony root! Chamomile! Rosemary! Something called pulsatilla Koreana!) certainly helps, too.
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