I don't use many beauty products – largely due to the fact that I'm lazy, they're expensive, and I'm a fairly au naturel kind of girl. However, a facial toner is always something I have on hand as I've found it makes a big difference in the health of my skin.
However, the list of undesirable ingredients on most store-bought toners is long and many toners are expensive, so I started looking for ways to make my own toner and started experimenting with various ingredients. What I discovered is that it is incredibly easy to design your own recipes according to your own preferences using ingredients typically found in any home: herbs, vegetables, teas, and vinegars. Of all the various cosmetics you can make at home, toners are among the easiest!
Since homemade toners are preservative-free and often include fresh ingredients, they are best kept in a cool place and used within 7-10 days. They're most refreshing if stored in the refrigerator, but if you're like me, you want them handy when you're washing your face in the bathroom, so find whatever place works best for you that's away from heat and direct sunlight.
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Lastly, if you want to store your lovely new toners in decorative bottles or package them for gift-giving, Mountain Rose Herbs has a wonderful selection of bottles to choose from. They've also got a fantastic article on creating floral waters and colognes (update: the article now focuses more on just colognes, but if you search their site, they have lots of other info on hydrosols and floral waters).
Apple Mint Toner
adapted from The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs
3-4 tsp chopped fresh mint
2 Tbls raw apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
Place the mint and apple cider vinegar in a small mason jar or other jar with a screw-top lid. Let sit at room temperature for 1 week. The mint will infuse the vinegar and give it a lovely scent.
Strain the mixture into a large measuring cup. Add the water. Stir well and pour into a clean bottle or jar and store in a cool place.
Apply to the face as a cleanser once a day or splash on your face as cool refreshment on a hot day.
10 parts rosewater
1 part kombucha
Stir rosewater and kombucha together, pour into a small bottle, and store in a cool place.
Rosewater is commonly used in Greek, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisine (think absolutely yummy baklava…), so you can either find bottles of rosewater at Mediterranean grocers or make your own by following the tutorial at the end of this post.
Kombucha Aloe Toner
1/2 cup kombucha
1/4 cup aloe vera juice OR 2 Tbls aloe vera serum straight from the plant
2 drops Vitamin E oil (optional)
2 drops essential oil of your choice (Since both kombucha and aloe are water soluble, which means the essential oil won't stay blended, be sure to only use essential oils that are safe to use on the skin. Our Essential Oil Organizer and Reference Guide covers this in depth.)
Mix all ingredients, pour into a decorative jar or bottle, and store in a cool place. This toner is especially helpful for very oily skin.
2 Tbls fresh watermelon juice
2 Tbls distilled water
1 Tbls vodka or rubbing alcohol
Extract the watermelon juice by mashing it through a strainer. If you want want it absolutely pulp-free, strain it again through a fine cheesecloth.
Stir the watermelon juice into the water and the vodka. Pour into a small bottle and store in a cool place, preferably the refrigerator.
Cucumber-Green Tea Toner
1/4 cup cucumber juice (approximately 1 medium cucumber)
1/4 cup steeped green tea
1 Tbls vodka (optional)
Extract the juice from the cucumber either by passing it through a juicer or by pureeing it in a blender or food processor and pressing it through a cheesecloth.
Meanwhile, make the green tea by pouring 1/2 cup freshly boiled water over 1 green tea bag or 1 tsp whole green tea leaves and steep, covered, for 5-7 minutes. Jasmine makes an exceptionally lovely scented toner, while gunpowder green makes a more astringent toner for balancing oily skin, but any green tea will work. Strain tea leaves from the tea and let the tea cool completely.
Mix the cucumber juice and the green tea together, adding vodka if desired. Store in a jar or bottle of your choosing and store in a cool place, preferably the refrigerator. This is also an especially refreshing splash on your face on a hot day.
How to Make Rosewater
Rosewater may be used by itself as a skin toner or in cooking, such as in Turkish delight, baklava, honey sesame candy, and myriad other recipes. Store it in the refrigerator for several weeks or even months – as long as it's not cloudy or doesn't smell off, it should be good, especially for cosmetic use.
Make sure you use fresh rose petals that are chemical- and pesticide-free and use only the petals – no stems or leaves.
If you would like to see some photos of the process, my cousin has posted several wonderful pictures on her blog – Adventures of Brad & Kendra. She also uses the rosewater in a DIY makeup remover. Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that? 🙂
Several cups of rose petals, packed (make sure these are chemical and pesticide free!)
Enamel or Stainless Steel Pot (any size)
Food-safe plate approximately 1″ smaller in diameter than your cooking pot
Fill the bottom of the pot with the rose petals a few inches deep. Place the plate on top to weigh them down and pour distilled water over the petals until they are just covered.
Heat the water over medium heat to be steaming hot, but do not boil. Let the water steam until the water has taken on the color of the rose petals, it has become a bit thick and oily, and you see rose oil forming on the surface. This will take approximately 60 minutes.
Strain the water into a glass bowl and squeeze as much liquid as you can from the rose petals. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator.
Quick and Easy Method:
Place any amount of fresh, chemical-free, rose petals in a glass bowl.
For every 1 firmly packed cup of rose petals, pour 2 cups boiling water over top. Cover and steep until the liquid is completely cool. Strain into a second bowl and squeeze the liquid from the petals.
This “quick and easy” method will produce a more mildly scented rosewater, but is still absolutely lovely in facial toners.