Those of us with sensitive skin know how careful we need to be. One wrong product can cause a myriad of skin issues, from redness to bumps to dryness and beyond. It can be beyond tiresome trying to find our perfect skincare regimen, as trial-and-error and patch testing are familiar friends. But, no matter what else you are using on your skin, you have to use a toner. Toners are not the astringents from your teens (Bonne Bell Ten-O-Six anyone?), but are an important step for incredible skin. They are great for providing an added anti-aging boost, targeting dryness or redness, and prepping skin for following products, such as serums and moisturizers. They can also do double-duty and remove any traces of makeup missed during cleansing. We tried several toners to determine which one worked best for sensitive skin. We have a clear favorite, but all work well. None contain alcohol, an obvious irritant and widely present in many skin care products, and all are effective for your specific needs.
For redness relief and added moisture, try the Paula’s Choice CALM Redness Relief Toner for Normal to Dry Skin. This toner is milky and silky and leaves skin feeling soothed due to glycerin, oleic acid, and linolenic acid, all skin replenishing ingredients. If you are on the oily side, Paula’s Choice also makes a toner to deal with sensitive yet oily skin. It minimizes the moisturizing ingredients but includes colloidal oatmeal to help mitigate redness.
If you are looking for a toner to just deal with dry skin, the Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner is great and smells super fresh, almost garden-like. Soothing aloe is the second ingredient of only six. Also, fresh-smelling is the Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner, which contains aloe as well, along with cucumber and glycol to moisturize. Both left our skin feeling refreshed yet moisturized.
When looking for an anti-aging toner for sensitive skin, there are several really good options. The Dermalogica Antioxidant HydraMist includes vitamin E, licorice, and white tea to help fight free radical damage, along with hyaluronic acid to moisturize. Our skin was soft and hydrated and the product absorbed quickly and rated highly for us. The Renee Rouleau Elderberry Soothing Toner features elderberry extract, which is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, along with sodium PCA for moisture.
For a basic toner to refresh skin while prepping it for your routine, the classic Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner is always the best bet. The Shiseido Pureness Balancing Softener Alcohol-Free, not only revives skin but also gently moisturizes and controls oil. This softener is light with a minimal scent and quick-absorbing.
Our overall favorite alcohol-free toner for sensitive skin is the first one mentioned, the Paula’s Choice CALM Redness Relief Toner. It’s a cadre of proven skin-replenishing and nourishing ingredients can’t be matched and the texture is amazing, plus it wears well with serums and moisturizers. It left our skin smooth and slightly dewy, with no sensitivity in sight.
If you try any of these, let us know how they worked!
Lia is a makeup addict in Washington, D.C. When not at her digital marketing day job, she explores all things beauty and works as personal makeup shopper. She enjoys a strong latte in the mornings and a strong cocktail in the evenings.