Make It: Calming Facial Toner

Homemade Toner Recipe

Toner: you crafty bastard. You sneaky snake! For the past decade, I’ve associated “clean skin” with a stinging and dehydrated face because of you. You leave my mug feeling drier than a piece of beef jerky. You’re the bully in my bathroom cabinet.

That all changed when I tried S.W. Basics’ all-natural toner earlier this year in their Bestsellers Mini Kit (which I highly recommend to anyone who’s interested in jumping on the all-natch skincare bandwagon. You’ll undoubtedly be HOOKED. I love S.W. Basics!). For the first time, I realized that a toner could actually be nourishing and gentle while still being effective. To my old toners: I’ll never wade into your fluorescent-tinted waters again.

S.W. Basics Toner
S.W. Basics Toner

After I ran out, I decided to make a homemade batch inspired by the ingredients in the S.W. Basics toner. This one’s a real winner for me – hope you try it out, or grab the good stuff from S.W. Basics!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon of organic witch hazel
  • 1 tablespoon of organic raw apple cider vinegar (with the “mother” – I used Bragg brand, which you can get at most grocery stores)
  • ½ cup of water
  • 5 drops of clary sage essential oil

Guys, I definitely advise you to clear out your whole afternoon if you’re going to try your hand at making this toner. Though worthwhile in the end, it’s extremely time-consuming and requires constant attention.

JUST KIDDIN’. All you have to do is mix well. Add the drops of clary sage in last.

I’ve been using this toner for a few months now and haven’t deviated – it’s wonderful. I apply it with cotton once a day (before bed) all over my face and neck, after cleansing and before adding moisturizer or argan oil. My face feels cleansed and refreshed after I use it, and it doesn’t leave my skin overly dry, unlike many traditional astringents or toners that contain alcohol and sting and strip your skin of much-needed moisture.

As for the gentle yet powerful ingredients: witch hazel fights acne, puffiness and inflammation; clary sage calms nerves (I really can’t say enough about how much I love the scent of this toner. Maybe it’s just my mind playing tricks on me, but when I unscrew the cap on my homemade toner, I just FEEL more calm. Thanks, clary sage.); and lastly, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is all-around miraculous as a super food and skincare/beauty multi-tasker. In toner, it’s supposed to help balance our skin’s pH, helping with cell turnover, sloughing off dead skin cells, clearing out pores and even lightening dark spots or age spots, based on what I’ve read. Kathryne and I both use ACV pretty extensively in a bunch of different ways, so it’ll likely be a regular player on our blog.

A few things to note about this recipe: since the ACV contains the “mother,” (according to the Bragg website: “strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules”), you’ll see some cloudiness and stringiness build up in the bottle. That’s fine! It’s good! Your skin likes the mother. Also, you may wish to experiment with the ratio of ACV to water to find the ideal balance for your face. A half cup of water to one tablespoon of ACV is a very mild concentration, but it works well with my skin and should be a good starting point for most everyone. For more on how to find the right ratio for your skin (and a ton more facts and benefits to ACV), check out this fantastic post about ACV toner on Tasty Yummies.

Lastly, note that the only ingredient I omitted from S.W. Basic’s original recipe is sandalwood, mostly because I didn’t feel like shelling out the cash money for it – it’s a tad pricy.

There are about a million and one ways to make your own toner – from using tea as a base to adding rose water. I’m sure Kathryne and I will cover some more recipes as this blog progresses. In the meantime, let us know if you’ve concocted your own natural toner recipes. Tell us what worked and what didn’t so we can try it your way next time!

  • Call It Vanity

    Love this post! I’ve been wanting to do the same thing since I tried the S.W.Basics toner. I made one that was a mixture of green tea and ACV but it wasn’t quiiite there. Luckily it’s pretty easy to experiment with these things ;)

    Mayah x

    • Jennifer

      Thank you, Mayah! Huge fan of Call it Vanity. :) Agreed, I felt empowered to make homemade toner because it’s so easy to combine things in a bottle – no boiling, cooking, or any tricky steps required. I’d like to experiment with other toner recipes, for sure – S.W. Basics shared a toner recipe on Refinery 29 that uses ACV & lavender, and tea is on my list, too! Let me know if you try any others out!

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  • Kris

    LOL…your opening paragraph to this post is priceless. Thank you for the laugh!

    • Jennifer

      Ha! So glad you enjoyed it! I’m STILL holding a grudge against my old toners…

  • Julia Brooke

    I enjoy adding a bit of pure vanilla extract to my toner recipe. I am not sure what benefits it has, but I love the smell and it feels extra smooth and going on. Just a drop or so depending on recipe amount. Maybe you could answer for me: does vanilla extract have any benefits for being used in the toner?

  • Miranda Rouly

    This may be a dumb question, but are you using Witch hazel astringent (ex: Thayers or Humphreys brands) or Witch hazel extract?