In this series, we'll spotlight one better-for-you-beauty-buy every week that not only does what it promises to do, but that also upholds the green, natural approach to beauty and skin care we value so much. Trust us when we say you can trust our beauty editor, Allie White — in her time here, she's tried upward of 400 different creams, sprays, serums, tonics, etc. These are her favorites.
My first experience using toner was unpleasant, to say the least. As a 15-year-old struggling with pubescent acne, I was determined to use whatever was necessary to banish to blemishes that were taking up residence on my face, so I ransacked the skin care aisle at my local drugstore, buying anything that smelled like it would work. (This meant a lot of very harsh-smelling, alcohol-filled liquids and scrubs.)
For the next couple of weeks, I assaulted my skin with everything I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, this included a bright green bottle of toner whose packaging implied it would treat my skin well, but whose contents actually wreaked havoc on my face.
Fast forward a few days and my skin was in worse shape than ever. It's was somehow dry and oily at the same time. Large patches of dead skin flaked off my face, and it was so raw and red that a slight breeze made me cringe. And the pimples are still there. It still pains me to think about this, so imagine how I must have felt as an insecure teen.
Like any good lesson-learner, I swore off toners. I figured they did more harm than good and really, what was the point anyway? Toners seemed like expensive bottles of something you spritzed your face with to feel fancy, but without any real, noticeable purpose.
Yes, I probably used too much of that drugstore toner and no, I didn't read the ingredient label. Yes, I was desperate to dry the crap out of my pimples and never deal with them again, but I also wasn't using other products to balance out what the toner was doing.
And for over a decade, I've been toner-free because of one (really) bad experience many years ago. But then I got my hands on a bottle of MUN's rose toner and things have never been the same (in a good way this time).
I'd received a sample of the toner over a year ago and instantly liked it, but the small size only lasted a few days and then I moved on to the long line of spritzes and mists I had waiting for me. Fortunately, my wise friend Margot over at The Choosy Chick insisted I'd love it and sent a bottle my way.
What I failed to realize on my first go-round is that a real toner is meant to balance the pH of the skin, to work in tandem with the oils that show up naturally on your skin to smooth, hydrate and stave off bad bacteria.
Since our skin is naturally acidic and any sort of cleansing alkalizes it, we need to reintroduce something slightly acidic to keep it healthy and working the way it should. (That super-clean, tight, almost-stinging sensation you get after washing your face is not something you want to seek out as it means your face's pH is out of balance and a problem is right around the corner.) This is where toners come in.
Thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid, MUN Anarose checks that acidic box, helping freshly-cleansed skin maintain a healthy, slightly acidic pH. A few spritzes and your skin is instantly soothed, softened, hydrated and refreshed. It also helps whatever serums and moisturizers you apply next penetrate that much further into your nourished skin.
Also on the ingredient list? Antioxidant-rich prickly pear serum extract and goji berry, both of which help protect your skin from environmental baddies.
For those of you who don't see the point of toners, this is the one that will change your mind. Plus, you'll feel like you're walking through a misty rose garden (which is probably due to the fact that it's made with hand-harvested rose blossoms from Bulgaria!).
MUN No.11 Anarose Toner, $68, munskin.com
EWG Score: 1 — low hazard
Photo Credit: Stocksy, courtesy of brand