It may not be the most entirely necessary piece of a good skincare routine, but a gentle toner is definitely my favorite part of the daily ritual. If I had buckets of money I would go through whole bottles a day - standing groggily at the vanity in the morning, spraying my tired skin repeatedly until the aroma sinks in through my pores. And throughout the day I'd have an employee whose sole job was to follow me around and react when I shouted "spritz!!" to freshen up my tired skin and brain.
First of all throw away all notions of teenage toners that smell like paint thinner and are used to desperately strip the skin of all its oils. A good toner moistens the skin after cleansing and before moisturizing - brightening lightly with gentle tonics and helping to pull the moisture deeper into the skin. And they smell and feel lovely - it's a ritual. Of course I can put my moisturizer on right after my cleanser, but I don't have to like it - it doesn't feel as nice. They're also wonderful for setting makeup, smoothing and softening and giving a dewy finish to powders and blushes.
Below are my top four, all of which I highly recommend....
Caudalie Beauty Elixir - the name sounds like a heady potion of freshness and glow, and I'm damned if it doesn't bestow just that - it's a decadent and invigorating revamp of the famed Queen of Hungary water, that classic combination of fine essential oils and extracts, plus Caudalie's grape magic. It's pricey, so I keep it as a treat - the mintiness and invigorating feeling it bestows can be too much for very sensitive skin, so that helps me to use it sparingly as well. A triumph, basically. I wish it ran from my shower and taps. Go to a Sephora and test it out - see if you think I'm exaggerating.
Lush EauRoma - this is my daily standby - gentle and soft, it smells of rose and lavender water, and has only the nicest, natural ingredients that moisturize and soothe. I keep it in my fridge in the summer, and the flower and herb essences perk me right up. That or the blast of cold spray hitting my face.
Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic- I don't know what the combination of scents is exactly, but this smells divine, somehow very comforting. Lovely on the skin as well, but the spray cap is too concentrated and fiddly - it needs a revamp - I end up usually pouring it into another bottle. The only criticism of a gorgeous product.