Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Formulating for dry skin: Toners

A toner is a product intended to remove any cleanser and oils from your face prior to application of a moisturizer. For those of us with oily skin, it can do double duty as a moisturizer. For those of you with dry skin, it might not even be a step in your facial cleansing process, but I think you can use a version of the oily skin toner as a way of trapping in awesome ingredients and moisture before applying your moisturizer! The key for dry skin is to get water against your skin - if you use a toner prior to applying a moisturizer, you can trap water, aloe vera, and all kinds of wonderful water soluble ingredients next to you skin all day long! Toners are especially good if you're using a serum - you have no water in a serum, so what are you trapping against your skin? But add a spritz or two of toner, and you have yourself a water soluble friend that will hydrate all day long!

If you're just using it to remove the surfactants from your skin, just make yourself something nice out of a few hydrosols and a preservative. This post is about how to use toners as pre-moisturizers or under moisturizers filled with all kinds of decadent ingredients! 

What kinds of things might we want in a toner for dry skin? If we go back to the post on choosing ingredients for dry skin (part 1), we see what we want to include occlusives, emollients, and humectants. The only occlusive ingredient we can use in a toner would be allantoin at up to 0.5% in the heated water phase because cocoa butter and dimethicone are both oil soluble, something a toner is not! For our emollients, we can use things like water soluble esters - like PEG-7 olivate or water soluble shea oil - or we can use the solubilizers and emulsifiers themselves as emollients - like Caprol Micro Express, Cromollient SCE, and others. (The polysorbates are too sticky to be used as emollients!) We can also use our hydrolyzed proteins as film formers - like hydrolyzed oat protein - or as moisturizing ingredients - like hydrolyzed silk protein. For our humectants...well, we have tons and tons of choices here!

Sodium lactate and sodium PCA are good choices, although sodium lactate can make you sun sensitive over 3%. Honeyquat would do double duty, although it can feel a little sticky, as can glycerin, sorbitol, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, and sorbitol. Hydrovance is a good choice, but it can experience pH drift, so it's a better choice in products to which you've added AHA or other acids. Tamarind seed extract is nice in a toner, as is dipropylene glycol. And don't forget the panthenol - I always include it in my toners!

We can include some lovely botanical ingredients in a toner recipe (refer to the post on ingredients for dry skin, part two). Add some hydrosols - chamomile and lavender would be my first choice - some aloe vera, some extracts - banana, chamomile, maybe some green tea for aging skin - and cosmeceuticals. There really is no limit on what you can add to a toner, except your ingredients must be water soluble and you don't want to add them over and above the suggested usage amounts because you need them to remain dissolved in the water. (For more on solubility, click here.) And make sure you aren't including a ton of extracts that might be exfoliating together! For instance, papaya, white willow bark, and pineapple all contain exfoliating elements, and you will end up very reddened and sensitive skin if you use all three at full strength!

People with dry skin can try witch hazel - the kind without added alcohol, ask your supplier - because it is a great anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and soothing ingredient. It's also an astringent, and some people with very dry skin will find this is distinctly unhelpful for helping dry skin! But some might find it awesome!

All right! I'll leave you to research your ingredients and we'll reconvene here tomorrow to create a base recipe for a toner suitable for dry skin!

As a final thought, toners are interesting because they're pretty much the same recipe for every skin type. It's the tweaking of the ingredients that makes them very different. And I find it's easy to use things in toners to see if my skin likes them, rather than making a moisturizer. Toners are pretty quick to make and they can be used the same day you make them, whereas moisturizers generally have to wait until the next day so they can cool down! 

Related posts:
Fun with formulating: Make a toner


Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
I love the toner I created but I'm thinking of including an AHA in my next batch. My question is two-fold: Are you suggesting that it's best to apply moisturizer when your skin is still damp from the the toner to capture all the awsomeness of the ingredients used in the toner? I tend to let it the toner dry "into" my skin before I apply eye cream and facial moisturizer. But is what really is happening in that case is more a matter of the toner product simply evaporating? - or is it actually making it's way into my skin..
Yet another loyal student,

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kelli. I am suggesting that you put the moisturizer on your skin while it's still damp to trap in the water! I'm not sure if your toner is evaporating or being absorbed - that would depend upon the ingredients. If you're using witch hazel with alcohol, for instance, you'd probably see the alcohol evaporating.

I'm writing more about this topic today (Monday) so look for it shortly!

Pauline Reyes said...

Hi Susan,
What specific toner would you recommend for people with oily skin especially on the T-zone? Thanks!
~Pauline @Kallony

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Pauline! Do a search for toners for oily skin to see many many recipes. I have oily skin, and most of my recipes are for that skin type!

Kim said...

If you use a toner both to remove excess surfactant and moisturize, won't that contaminate the toner moisturizer with the surfactant and leave the skin feeling dry sicne the toner may contain surfactants? Is a toner moisturizer enough to hydrate dry skin? Is a toner moisturizer more effective than creams for oily skin? Also, why do you suggest no oils for oily skin?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kim! I have never had this experience. If you have created your cleanser properly, it should rinse off cleanly leaving no surfactants behind. If you are worried about your cleanser leaving surfactants behind, I encourage you to reduce the concentration in your product and see if that rinses more cleanly.

No, I don't think a toner is enough to moisturize dry skin, at least the people I know with dry skin. I encourage them to use moisturizers afterwards. I think someone with normal to dry skin could use a toner, but as with everything, the only way to know is to try it and see if it works for you.

As for oily skin, it depends upon the person, but people with oily skin don't have to add oils to moisturize. We already have oils on our skin to do that job! In general, oily skin is better moisturized without oils, using things like cationic polymers, proteins, and things like aloe vera that contain polysaccharides, because these things are less likely to cause break outs or blocked pores.