15 Best Toner for Sensitive Skin (2018)

Updated 5 years ago

Blotchy patches, flushed redness in your cheeks that never seem to go away, and waking up to flaky and dull-looking skin. Sound familiar? All these signs point to you experiencing skin sensitivity. With that said, looking for a new product is usually an agonizing process for you as you don’t want to exacerbate your already delicate skin condition.

For those battling with sensitive skin, you might be thinking that a toner is the last thing your skin needs. After all, toners are infamous for their drying, alcohol-filled formulation, which might sound great for oily skin for a mattifying finish, but spells disaster for your already sensitized skin. However, this misconception of not including a toner in your skincare regime might be the reason for the worsening of your sensitive skin condition.  

What Toners Actually Do For Sensitive Skin

Toners are a must-have for any skin type. A toner not only wipes away the excess debris left over from your cleansing routine, but actually rebalances your skin’s pH, and helps the other skincare products in your regime to absorb better into your skin.

After cleansing your face, your skin’s natural pH balance will usually get disrupted. This is because most cleansers contain alkaline ingredients which upsets your skin’s slightly acidic pH level. This is also why it is better for individuals with sensitive skin to use a mild, slightly acidic facial cleanser.

As such, when your skin’s pH level is out of whack, it means that your skin’s acid mantle has been weakened. This acid mantle is made up of the skin’s natural sebum, lipids, and other elements. It acts as a protective layer that retains moisture within the skin while keeping germs and bacteria out. Once the acid mantle has been compromised, the skin loses this protective mechanism which causes it to become more easily affected by external stimulants. Thus, your skin becomes easily sensitized and may suffer from symptoms such as dryness, itchiness, and redness. This could potentially result in skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and rosacea.

This is why toners are massively important in your daily routine. Most toners’ formulation have a pH of 5.5 or close to this slightly acidic range to help recalibrate your skin’s pH. As such, toners help to maintain and strengthen the acid mantle which is vital for your skin’s health.

However, do note that to maximize the pH-balancing effect of your toner, make sure to choose one that does not contain alcohols or astringents. These drying agents might strip your skin of its natural oils and moisture, thereby further irritating your already sensitive skin condition.

Besides restoring your pH levels, a toner also helps to prep the skin for the next step in your routine. This will then boost the efficacy of your other products such as a serum, essence, or moisturizer.

How to Choose a Toner for Sensitive Skin

Traditionally, toners were formulated with a high proportion of alcohols and harsh astringents that leave the skin feeling tight and dry. These might have been ideal for those facing sebum overproduction, but definitely a major no-no for sensitive skin users. As a result, this might have led to the misconception that toners are not for everyone.

However, the recent generation of toners have undergone a revamp in terms of their formulation. Most toners nowadays are enriched with an abundance of soothing and hydrating ingredients. This also means that it is no longer an excuse for sensitive skin users to skip toning as part of their facial routine. The trick is to determine which toner works for you. As a sensitive skin individual, you should look out for those with Hyaluronic Acid, Jojoba Oil, and Aloe Vera. One trending ingredient used in toners which has been in the spotlight for years is Rose Water. The reason behind this is because Rose Water is widely-known for its pH-balancing properties as well as reducing inflammation and redness. Sounds like the perfect life-saving ingredient for sensitive skin types!

To help you pick out the best toner that cares for your sensitive skin, we list out the top 15 toners for you.  

Reviews of the Top 15 Toners for Sensitive Skin

Rose Water Facial Toner by Leven Rose

Made with 100% organic Moroccan Rose Water, this natural toner is great for toning your face without causing irritation to your skin. Its main ingredient, Rose Water, clears away acne-causing bacteria while replenishing the moisture levels in your skin. The toner is also packaged in a dark amber bottle to protect it from oxidation and exposure to other elements, thereby maintaining the potency of its ingredients. Pour a few drops onto your hand or use the complimentary spray nozzle to spritz a layer of fine mist over your face.

Fresh Rose Floral Toner

This alcohol-free toner is also formulated with pure Rose Water that is gentle enough for sensitive skin types. The light, floral rose scent will uplift your mood while the toner soothes and tones your skin. In fact, this toner is deeply hydrating to keep your skin well-moisturized for up to 24 hours! Moreover, once applied to the skin, the toner leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth, without any sticky residue.

Eau Thermale Avène Gentle Toner

A well-known brand for combating skin sensitivity, this list will not be complete without Avène’s Toning Lotion. Besides completely removing makeup residue, its core ingredient, Thermal Spring Water, covers the outer skin layer with a soothing veil that keeps skin irritation at bay. Add this toner to your routine if you want your skin to feel smooth and comfortable all day.

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner

This toner by Thayers is enriched with a slew of skin-soothing ingredients such as Rose Petal Water and Witch Hazel Extract, which are great for reducing inflammation and redness. It also contains nutrient-rich Vitamin E to effectively brighten up your skin. In addition, its affordable price makes this a mainstay in most reviewers’ regime.

KLAIRS Supple Preparation Facial Toner

This refreshing toner contains a soothing blend of botanical extracts such as Aloe and Centella Asiatica to calm inflammation while protecting your skin’s barrier. Also, it has Hyaluronic Acid in it which is great for retaining moisture within your skin. After all, ample hydration is the first step towards healthy skin. This toner is also light enough to be absorbed into your skin rapidly, making it ideal for layering under other products that you use in your daily regime.

Simple Kind to Skin Soothing Facial Toner

A drugstore toner which has remained a crowd favorite for a long time due to its gentle, alcohol-free formulation. It tones your skin without drying it out. Infused with soothing Chamomile and Pro-Vitamin B5, this toner not only keeps your skin soft, it also replenishes the skin barrier. Users love the fact that it hydrates their skin well without breaking them out. Another important factor is that this toner does not contain potentially skin-irritating substances like artificial fragrances and dyes.  

Teddie Organics Organic Alcohol Free Rose Water

This anti-ageing toner is 100% pure and organic that has been triple-distilled to provide optimum purity for the user. It does not contain chemicals, preservatives or artificial fragrances which makes it a must-try for sensitive skin types. Reviewers also vouched for the toner’s effectiveness in controlling breakouts and redness. The spray bottle packaging also makes it convenient for you to spritz on the toner whenever you feel like your skin could use a pick-me-up.

Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner

A Korean toner that is infused with BHA, Aloe Vera, and Snail Secretion Filtrate. Lauded by reviewers as a suitable toner for those with sensitive and troubled skin, this product is impressive in healing blotchiness and pimples while moisturizing the skin. In fact, most reported clearer skin and an improvement in their acne scars after consistent use.

Eve Hansen Certified Organic Rose Water Face Toner

This organic Rose Water spray toner is made with Rosa Damascena rose petals, and is chock full of vitamins and antioxidants to revive sensitive skin. Besides using solely as a spritz-on toner, it is great for removing makeup, alleviating puffiness, and doubles up as a makeup primer. Fans of this product reported diminished redness and acne after implementing this into their daily routine.

Obagi Nu-Derm Toner

This alcohol-free toner is formulated with Aloe Vera to hydrate and soothe the skin, and the natural astringent Witch Hazel which not only calms redness, but also refines enlarged pores. As this toner is non-drying, it is suitable for those with dry, troubled, and sensitive skin. Its effectiveness in combating skin troubles is such that one user claimed this toner improved her acne dramatically within days!

Yeouth Balancing Facial Toner

This toner is jam-packed with skin-boosting ingredients such as Allantoin, Alcloxa, and Chamomile Flower Extract, which calms, protects, and nourishes your skin. Due to its hypoallergenic formulation, it is suitable for sensitive skin types without causing skin irritation. Besides toning and prepping the skin for the next step in your routine, this toner helps reduce redness and encourage cell regeneration, thereby restoring your skin to its original, healthy state.

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Enriched Calming Toner

A toner that has achieved HG status by many users, it is hydrating enough to soothe dry, flaky skin while restoring your skin’s moisture balance. It is infused with skin-defending ingredients such as Vitamin E, Evening Primrose Oil, and Niacinamide. Users loved this product for being gentle enough even for those battling with skin issues such as Rosacea. This toner works by reducing red, blotchy patches to give you a more even and brighter complexion.

Proactiv Revitalizing Toner

This toner is made with a nourishing blend of botanical extracts like Chamomile, Aloe, and Witch Hazel. It effectively soothes skin irritation, controls excess sebum production, and stimulates cell production to promote a healthy skin barrier. Moreover, this toner also contains Glycolic Acid, a gentle chemical exfoliant that sloughs away dead cells and other debris on the skin surface to reveal newer and brighter skin. This will be ideal for those looking to resolve blotchy, red patches that are caused by skin sensitivity.  

Revision Skincare Soothing Facial Rinse

This alcohol-free toner is formulated with Arnica Montana Extract, an ingredient that has been traditionally used in treating skin conditions like Eczema and itchiness. It contains Helenalin and Flavonoid, both of which works together to calm and revitalize damaged skin. The toner also has Vitamin K, which is widely used in healing open wounds and speeding up the recovery process. As such, this toner is perfect for those who are looking to soothe and protect their sensitive skin.

Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist

This light, hydrating Rose Water toner is sure to leave your skin feeling fresh with a hint of dewiness. It has Rose Essential Oil, Marshmallow, and Aloe Vera to replenish your skin’s moisture while keeping it soft and supple. This toner comes out of the bottle as a fine mist that not only keeps your skin calm and happy, but also goes on well as a base for your makeup. It sinks into the skin fast without leaving an overall greasiness on your face.

Indeed, there are numerous toner options on the market that are catered specifically towards sensitive skin individuals. So, what are you waiting for?

How to Apply Toner for Sensitive Skin

As we know, the fragile state of your sensitive skin requires utmost care and attention to prevent it from getting worse. This is why knowing how to apply toner, or any other facial products, to your skin is imperative. Instead of using cotton pads, whose slightly abrasive texture may irritate your skin further, let’s look at some alternatives in terms of application methods.  

Alternate Methods for Applying Toner:

  • Spray Bottle: using a spray nozzle eliminates the chance of a cotton pad rubbing against the skin. This will then avoid potential irritation that may result from the slightly abrasive contact. In addition, spraying on the toner delivers the product in a fine mist which leads to better absorption into the skin.

  • Hands: pouring a generous splash of toner on your hands then gently rubbing your hands together to get the product evenly coated on your palms, before pressing into your face. This pressing motion reduces abrasion compared to rubbing or swiping the product on the skin. To aid in faster absorption of the product, follow up with gentle taps which will help it sink into the skin better.

Eliminating the use of cotton pads when applying your toner will save your skin from the potential irritation caused by rubbing the rough texture of the pad against your skin. It can also help you to save more product, and at the same time ensure that most of the toner ends up on your face, instead of being absorbed by your dry cotton pads.

Determine Your Sensitive Skin Type

Skin sensitivity may range widely from mild symptoms that occur once in a while to severe sensitivity that cause you daily discomfort. However, not all sensitive skin types are the same. Some are due to genetics while others may be triggered by environmental factors. To understand better which sensitive skin condition you are facing, let us take a deeper look.

4 Different Types of Sensitive Skin

  • Naturally Sensitive: possibly the most common skin sensitivity experienced by most of us. This refers to skin conditions that an individual might have experienced his/her whole life such as eczema and rosacea. These conditions are genetically predisposed, and are usually difficult to resolve completely. However, you can still manage these conditions by identifying their triggers and avoiding them whenever possible to prevent a flare-up of the associated symptoms.
  • Environmentally Sensitized: this could be due to external factors such as sun exposure, irritants in cosmetics and facial products, smoking, and so on. Those with environmentally sensitized skin are not born with skin sensitivity. Rather, this sensitivity was developed when you come into contact with certain trigger factors. This is why you might experience itchiness, redness or stinging sensation that goes away once you are no longer in close proximity with the triggers.
  • Thin Skin: this condition is due to a breakdown in the skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum. When this protective barrier is damaged, it is easier for irritants and bacteria to enter your skin while losing the skin’s natural elasticity and moisture. For those with thin skin, you will probably experience dryness, flakiness, or itchiness. To restore your skin’s natural barrier, go for skincare products that contain Peptides, Ceramides, and Hyaluronic Acid.  

Wrap Up

While sensitive skin may not be completely cured, particularly genetically predisposed conditions, you can still keep their associated symptoms at bay. It all starts with the right skincare products and facial routine. Coupled with necessary lifestyle changes, you won’t have to feel troubled over your skin sensitivity anymore.