When I was younger and didn’t know better, I used to use harsh products on my skin. I would always try to scrub off as much of excess oil as possible, leaving my skin feeling tight and dry. And I always got the best results using a product that contained alcohol. But, as the years went by, and I started to educate myself a bit more, I learned that alcohol was doing more harm than good!
So, today I’ll be sharing some of that experience with you in answering this question.
Should Your Toner Be Alcohol-free?
It depends on your skin type. An alcohol-free toner is suitable for sensitive skin as it is more gentle. It will soothe the surface of your skin, balance its pH and help you get a hold of your skin's sebum production.
Alcohol in your toner may cause dryness, irritate your skin, and cause breakouts. Not only that, it may damage your skin’s protective barrier, making it even more vulnerable and susceptible to damage; this destruction of the protective oil barrier will increase oil production, making your skin excessively oily and prone to breakouts.
Is Alcohol-Free Toner Better? And Why?
Dehydration of the skin is a problem most of us face at some point in our lives, especially during the harsh winter months; And I believe that many, like me, do notice this on their face and wonder why is that.
The T-zone and the eye area are particularly prone to dryness. It tightens, tingles, and it seems like you can see small cracks on your face. But you should be aware that there’s a big difference between dry and dehydrated skin.
The solution to the problem of dehydrated skin is not just to take more fluids. You have to pay attention to the skin care products you use, especially when it's cold outside. During this period, you should remove alcohol-based products from your daily use. If you clean your skin daily and refresh it with an alcohol-containing toner, it can bring you more harm than benefits.
Is Alcohol Bad for All Skin Types?
The alcohol contained in the toner binds the water from the skin. This causes skin dryness in those areas where we apply it. Instead, people having these problems should opt for mild, alcohol-free products to remove make-up and cleanse their face. Then they can be sure micro-damage won't appear because of the dry skin.
Generally speaking, if we can, we should avoid alcohol in skin care products. But depending on the type of skin, people tolerate it differently. I have an oily skin type, so alcohol toners usually work for me. They narrow my pores and improve the oil balance of my skin. But people with dry and sensitive skin should choose alcohol-free toners.
These products should contain oily ingredients having the same purpose as alcohol. Their function is to create a protective film on the surface of our skin. This layer is called a hydrolipid layer and is responsible for the preservation of the skin hydration. For people with generally dry skin, these products, but also those based on water, are a real blessing.
What Does Alcohol-Free Toner Do For Skin?
People who care for their skin will inevitably use toner in their cleaning routine. It may seem unnecessary to you, but this product is an excellent addition to "common" facial cleansing products. Apart from cleaning dirt that remains even after detailed cleaning, alcohol-free toner affects the regulation of sebum, preventing the pores from clogging by these impurities. Of course, the most important thing is that the active toner ingredients regulate the pH value of the skin.
Alcohol-free toner is not a facial cleanser or a makeup remover; yet, it helps to remove the dirt and particles that accumulate on our skin during the day. Many of these products contain additional vitamins and minerals that boost the production of collagen. So they provide your skin with elasticity and protection but also prepare it for further care and hydration.
Do All Toners Have Alcohol?
Back in the day, skin toners usually contained alcohol. In my teenage days, I thought it was a good idea for my pimples and other facial issues. These products were used to remove excess oil from the skin, which was utterly wrong. Of course, alcohol as an ingredient also had its benefits, but its concentration in the products was generally high. It only led to its drying and cracking.
Luckily, cosmetic lines have worked hard to find a decent substitute for this substance. Alcohol is still used in toner production, especially those intended for people with oily, normal, and combination skin. Also, these can be useful for people who are prone to acne that develop as inflammatory processes.
But today, there are compounds that do not dry our skin. They serve to help other active ingredients to penetrate deeper layers of the skin. Alcohol-free toners are intended for people with dry, sensitive or mature skin.
Bad Alcohols vs. Good Alcohols in Skin Care
Alcohols are a common ingredient in the cosmetic industry of today, but you should know that not every alcohol is bad for your skin. Simply put, some alcohols are beneficial, and yet there are those that can damage our skin. Those from the second group are fading, unfortunately, and being used less and less. However, there are products where this type of alcohol is required, as it serves to bind other ingredients into a compact mixture.
Alcohols that are labeled as "good" serve as emulsifiers. They improve the texture and durability of toners. Those favorable to our skin are cetyl, stearyl, and Cetearyl alcohols. These are derived from natural oils. They have moisturizing effects and work on thickening the skin.
"Bad" alcohols that can damage the skin's surface are benzyl, ethanol, methanol, and isopropyl alcohol. Although they are useful for preventing the separation of ingredients in topical products like toners, they can irritate and dry out the skin. When the protective layer is destroyed, our skin becomes a desirable habitat for viruses and bacteria. And when these microorganisms get into the surface, many disorders can happen.
How to Use Alcohol-Free Toner?
Although the use of too many skin care products may have the opposite effect, applying a toner can't hurt you if you use it in the right way. I usually apply it in the evening, after a full cleansing of the face, and before applying the moisturizer. I usually wait a couple of minutes between applying each product, so that each one has time to work.
Though I love my cleanser, there are times I feel it just didn't perform as well as I expected. When this happens, the toner is there to pick up the slack and prepare the skin for applying the products that will nourish and hydrate my skin during the night.
Many think that toner is just another cleansing product. Think of them as an addition to your daily skin cleansing routine.
Image 1 src: Freepik, by asier_relampagoestudio