I was always envious of those girls with luminous, smooth, glowing skin.
Skin that looked refined and buffed. Grandma might have called it ‘porcelain’ or ‘peaches-and-cream’. That was never me. I tend towards oily skin and big pores. Glowing skin? Yes, I glow. But more from the greasies than some ethereal internal luminescence.
So making my own skincare has been a revelation for me.
And recently I have heard from a lot of readers who are struggling with oily, congested skin with pimples, acne and blackheads. It seemed like a good time to create a third product we could add to our cleansing routine. A product especially for the oily-skin prone among us! (Don’t worry, dry skin types … I’ll describe how you could adapt this recipe to work for you too!)
4 really specific ingredients.
This skin toner only has 4 ingredients. Just mix them together, et voila! skin toner.
But each ingredient has a really specific purpose. I’ve chosen the ingredients based on the traditional medicinal usage. They’re not just included to smell nice. These ingredients work.
I believe if an ingredient or remedy has been used for hundreds of years for a specific purpose – it probably works.
(Otherwise, it would have passed from memory like a fad.)
On the other side of the coin, if there are hundreds of remedies for a specific condition, it’s probably because none of them work reliably for everyone (think: weight loss remedies or cold remedies.)
Let’s take a look at why these 4 ingredients are included in the Clarifying Skin Toner.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
You want to find a high-quality, raw / unpasteurized apple cider vinegar “with the mother”. This is the true fermented ACV that generations of humans used.
ACV is an acid, and has long been known as a home remedy or ‘folk cure’ for zillions of ailments. Many of these remedies aren’t true, of course. But recently ACV has had a resurgence of popularity to take internally and externally for health and beauty. I use Apple Cider Vinegar in my rosemary-nettle hair rinse and also in this homemade sports drink. (Plus, I drink a tablespoon in water every morning as a local alternative to starting the morning with hot water and lemon.)
Apple Cider Vinegar in this toner is all about maintaining the pH of the skin. Our skin is naturally at a pH of 5.5 or lower (slightly acidic). Soap is very alkaline and will disrupt the pH of the skin, but it has been shown that even normal tap water can change the pH of our skin! (source) Using ACV in the toner adds more acid to the skin, to bring it closer to the ideal skin pH.
Since ACV is an acid, it can irritate very sensitive skin. If you find this toner too strong, just add more water and less ACV. You may be able to increase the amount of ACV over time as your skin adjusts (up to a maximum of 50% ACV).
Where to buy Apple Cider Vinegar: Look for raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar “with the mother” in your local health food shop. Or buy ACV online here.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)
You’ve probably heard of witch hazel before. It’s used in many natural beauty products and is widely available in drugstores and pharmacies.
Witch Hazel is a cooling, anti-inflammatory and astringent (toning & tightening) plant.
Because of its cooling, soothing, tightening action, it’s used for varicose veins … and hemorrhoids (piles)!
But don’t let that dissuade you from using this lovely ingredient in your skin toner.
Adding witch hazel will tighten and tone your skin which is a great addition for slightly greasy, large-pored complexions!
When buying Witch Hazel, you need to read the ingredients. Often you find witch hazel with alcohol. I prefer using ‘distilled witch hazel’ or ‘witch hazel hydrosol’ which is simply witch hazel in water. You can use the alcohol-based on in this toner, but keep in mind it will be more drying than the water-based witch hazel. So you may want to use less.
Where to buy Witch Hazel: In your local pharmacy or drug store! You can also buy it online here.
Calendula (Marigold) Infusion
Ahhh golden, gorgeous marigolds! Marigolds are amazing for healing the skin. If you have any blemishes or scarring, including this plant will help your skin to repair itself and heal.
If you don’t have dried calendula available, you could also use Chamomile (just make some chamomile tea!) which would be very soothing and gentle on the skin.
Or just use rosewater.
But specifically for people with acne and pimples (ie, little abraisons on the skin) I think calendula is a really nice addition to this toner.
Where to buy dried Calendula / Marigolds: You can buy dried calendula online here.
Glycerine is a humectant which means it attracts water. Adding glycerine makes a silkier toner, and also attracts moisture from the air into the skin.
You don’t want to use too much glycerine, because over time it will draw moisture FROM the skin into it as well, which can be drying. But a little glycerine in the toner really improves the texture.
Glycerine is optional, but I like to include it for texture and moisturization.
You want to buy vegetable glycerine which is produced from vegetable oils, as opposed to other glycerine which can be a byproduct of petroleum, yuck.
Where to buy Vegetable Glycerine: You can find vegetable glycerine in your local pharmacy, or online here.
Clarifying Skin Toner
(Makes 100ml / scant 1/2 cup of skin toner)
Make the calendula (or chamomile) infusion by putting a spoonful of dried herbs in a cup of freshly boiled water. (You can drink the rest of the infusion that you don't use!)
Mix all ingredients together in a bottle.
Apply with a cotton pad after cleansing your face (avoid eyes!) and follow with moisturizer.
The finished product does smell like weak apple cider vinegar. So if that puts you off, try using less ACV, or adding 2 drops of an essential oil (like rose or lavender).
Recipe adjustment ideas for...
Dry skin: Leave out the witch hazel altogether and instead use an extra 15ml (1 Tb) of rosewater.
Sensitive skin: Use half the amount of ACV. Replace the witch hazel with rosewater. You might use chamomile infusion instead of calendula because it's so soothing.