For years, the best drugstore toner for my skin would be a no-name bottle of 100 percent witch hazel. Armed with my witch hazel and cotton pad, I was ready to go to war with my oily skin.
But after a few months, I realized a product with a few more natural ingredients could remove excess oil while also improving the appearance of my skin.
And so, the hunt was on! Combing websites and local pharmacies for the best drugstore toner without breaking the bank was much simpler than I thought... so long as the ingredient list was easy to find!
If you're also navigating through the sea of ingredient lists, price tags, and toner pros and cons, we can lend a helping hand.
Who Uses Face Toners And Why?
There is no one hard and fast reason why people use facial toners. Using toners is not as critical as using sunscreen or moisturizer daily.
However, it could be an essential step in your daily routine depending on what you use it for. If, for instance, you have oily skin, you may consider using a toner to rid your skin of some of its excess oil.
Another reason to use a toner is to reduce the appearance of pores. The smaller your pores, the more even your skin tone.
Lastly, daily makeup users use toners to deep-clean their pores. Clean, debris-free pores decrease the chances of clogging pores, (resulting in blackheads) and acne.
Astringents Vs. Toners: What's The Difference?
Those in search of toners are often asking what the differences are between a toner and astringents. Their bottle shapes, store location, and sometimes even target audience are somewhat similar. But the main difference between astringents and toners are the ingredients.
Astringents are usually alcohol-based products. They are great for those suffering from acne or oily skin, as it removes excess oil. However, they are not recommended for those with dry skin because the alcohol strips away what little oil your skin already has.
On the other hand, toners use ingredients such as glycerine or glycol to balance your skin's pH balance. Together with other ingredients, toners soothe and balance your skin without drying it out or ripping away all your skin's natural oils.
Toners also work well with dry skin, as they hydrate and soothe flaking skin thanks to its non-alcohol ingredients.
The Good, Bad And Ugly Ingredients
As mentioned above, most astringents contain alcohol while most toners contain other, more soothing ingredients.
But these two products are not so black-and-white: some toners do, in fact, contain alcohol as well. Because of the rest of the bottle's components, they are considered toners, but they work best on acne-prone, oily skin. Those with dry skin should steer clear of alcohol-based toners.
Beware of toners containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Both of these ingredients are commonly found in over-the-counter acne treatments.
While it may work well for those with regular acne breakouts, both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are powerful components that may harm your skin. Always consult your physician before using any product with either of these two ingredients.
We couldn't talk about toners without mentioning one of the best ingredients out there: witch hazel!
This magical, plant-based ingredient has been around for many years and is often seen as the best all-natural toner. It has astringent properties without robbing your skin of its natural oils. It tightens pores, reduces redness, and can reduce the frequency of breakouts.
The best drugstore toner depends significantly on your skin type as well as the ingredients you want in the toner.
For some, that may be going alcohol-free and sticking to all natural ingredients. For more problematic skin, you may want a toner with some alcohol to even out your skin tone. Its all a matter of personal preference.
How We Reviewed
We searched the vast world of the web and narrowed our selection down to a handful of the best drugstore toners.
We used real customer reviews, feedback, and average star ratings to bring you the best of the best.
Best Drugstore Toner: Our Top Picks
Below is a selection of the best drugstore toners we could find available on the market.
- GENTLE EXFOLIATOR: Exfoliates and purifies the skin with Glycolic Acid
- SKIN-LOVING INGREDIENTS: Ginseng improves circulation and energizes skin. Aloe Vera soothes and hydrates.
- CELL RENEWAL: Gently accelerates cell renewal to reveal a brighter, glowing complexion. Refines the appearance of pores.
Pixi Glow's Toner is one of our favorite toners. The 250 mL bottle is sleek and has a cute blush pink and light green color. The ingredient list includes deionized water, aloe vera, and plenty of witch hazel. It does not have any alcohol, and as a company, Pixi does not test on animals.
Customers can purchase Pixi's Glow Tonic using Amazon or the manufacturer's website. However, the manufacturer only ships within the United States while Amazon ships worldwide.
According to their website, Pixi offers a 30-day return window for items which become damaged from shipping. They do not offer returns or exchanges for any other reasons.
- EVENS SKIN TONE: This natural face toner is great for all skin types including sensitive and acne-prone skin. Organic...
- NEUTRALIZES PH AND BALANCES OIL PRODUCTION: The organic witch hazel and apple cider vinegar makes this facial toner...
- MADE SIMPLY WITH 5 INGREDIENTS: Alcohol free, pure and simple ingredients include organic, raw apple cider vinegar,...
S.W.'s Basics Toner has a mere five ingredients, making it the best drugstore toner (besides pure witch hazel) with the least amount of components.
The ingredients list is so short we can list them all: water, apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, clary sage essential oils, and sandalwood essential oil.
All ingredients are also certified organic, and none of their products are tested on animals. In fact, all of S.W. Basics' products are vegan, minus their beeswax lip balms and diaper cream.
Their return policy is strict because they produce fresh, small-batch items. They do not accept any open products if you are dissatisfied with the toner. They do, however, ship worldwide and typically only take two to three days to ship your order.
It is available online (either on the manufacturer's website or Amazon) as well as in most brick-and-mortar stores.
- Soft rose fragrance, Soothing Rose Toner made with rose-petal water and proprietary Witch Hazel extract
- Un-distilled witch hazel cleanses and moisturizes, Certified organic aloe vera
- Free of alcohol, parabens and propylene glycol
Thayers products have a long history dating back to 1847 when they were one of the largest manufacturers of pharmaceuticals in America during the Civil War. Their star ingredient is witch hazel, derived from the Hamamelis Virginia plant.
Thayers' Alcohol-free Rose Petal Toner contains the same star player: witch hazel! As the title suggests, the ingredients do not contain alcohol. Instead, they include aloe vera leaf juice, purified water, flower water, citric acid, grapefruit seed extract, and glycerin.
This company's glycerin comes from palm or coconut, which means they are soy- and gluten-free. Thayers also does not test on animals, and their pH levels for all products are around 5.5-6.
Based solely on the number of reviews on Amazon, Thayers may be the best drugstore toner for 78 percent of customers who gave it a 5-star review.
If you're looking for a toner that not only tightens your pores but also removes excess dirt, consider one with alcohol as an ingredient.
No7 Beautiful Skin Balancing Toner's second ingredient (after water) is alcohol, followed by hydrogenated castor oil, butylene glycol, glycerin, and several other components. Butylene glycol comes from petroleum. Its primary function is acting as a solvent while also thinning out the product's formula.
While the ingredients are significantly less natural than many other toners, this may be the best drugstore toner for those who need a deep cleaning. Not only does it clean your pores to lower the risk of blackheads and acne breakouts, but it also soothes dry, flaky skin.
- ESSENTIAL TONER: Our Essential-C Toner restores balance and conditions skin. The facial toner rejuvenates and renews...
- ENERGIZES and BRIGHTENS: Orange Fruit Extract in the clarifying toner refreshes the skin, and the hydrating toner...
- DAILY FACIAL TONER: This vitamin C toner is suitable for use on Normal, Dry and Combination skin types, and the...
Murad sells several cosmetics, including several different kinds of cleansers and toners. While some of their products target the prevention and treatment of acne, others (such as their Essential-C Toner) work to restore your skin's pH balance.
While the ingredient list for Murad Environmental's Essential-C Toner does not include alcohol, it is chock full of other things. It contains butylene glycol, witch hazel (third ingredient), and other components such as castor oil, rice amino acids, and citrus flower extract.
Unlike the rest of the product on this list, Murad's toner uses a pump. Spray the toner onto a cotton pad and apply all over your face and neck.
The vast majority (79 percent, to be precise) gave Murad's Essential C-Toner a 5-star rating.
This toner might hurt your wallet a little bit, costing $ to $$ depending on the retailer. They also have an excellent return policy, citing a 60-day money back guarantee if you are at all unsatisfied with the product.
- Simple Soothing Facial Toner is a light and 100% alcohol-free toner and is pH balanced so it refreshes your skin without...
- 3 key skin-loving ingredients: Chamomile, which helps gently soften and soothe, Witch Hazel, which helps tone and...
- This Simple Facial Toner contains Pro-Vitamin B5 which is known to help restore, soften and smooth
Simple prides itself on not having any nut-derived ingredients and no alcohol in their products. They have a great lineup of skin care products including wipes, moisturizers, scrubs, and toners!
Their Soothing Facial Toner has a long list of ingredients that include Pro-Vitamin B5, Allantoin, chamomile, and the all-famous witch hazel. All of the products from Simple are hypoallergenic, soap-free, and contain no artificial dyes or fragrances.
Chamomile is a surprising ingredient that isn't featured in many toners but has a long history in medicine.
It's used for its medicinal properties for treating wounds, skin irritations, diaper rash, blocked tear ducts, and many, many more ailments. It should come as no surprise that its anti-inflammatory properties would make it an excellent ingredient in toners.
It is available in most stores in the pharmacy department, on Amazon, or via the manufacturer's website.
Which Is The Best Drugstore Toner?
Choosing between which best drugstore toner to buy is a tough one. However, mostly because of its excellent return policy, we'd love to give Murad Environmental's Essential C-Toner a try.
While it's a little on the pricey side, we like that witch hazel is its third ingredient and its easy to return if your skin doesn't agree with the formula.
Do you have a drugstore toner that you use religiously? Let us know in the comments below!