Six hydrating toners to try for different budgets (starts at P100!)

One of the more obvious skincare misconceptions that frustrates me the most is when people think that toner is supposed to be "matapang" and have astringent properties in order for it to be effective. Sure, clarifying toners can come in handy for those with oily/acne-prone skin or for those who occasionally want to do some deep cleansing. But unless you have extreme skin issues, you won’t need to go hard with the heavy-duty toners on the daily! In fact, overdoing it could ruin your skin’s moisture barrier and cause breakouts to worsen.

So here’s my PSA: invest in a moisturizing toner! It might take some getting used to as some formulas tend to be tackier than others, but you’ll live for more supple skin and the long-term preservation of your moisture barrier. Here are five solid recos for various budgets:

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Human Nature Hydrating Face Toner (P99.75 for 100ml, Beauty Bar and Rustan's Fresh)

We’re seeing an influx of affordable cruelty-free products, and this one doesn’t even pass the P100 mark! The quick-absorbing formula contains antioxidant-rich malunggay seed extract, and the herbal-floral scent it has is light and doesn’t linger. There is a slight tackiness once the toner dries, but it’s still at a minimum and definitely not enough to cause discomfort. You can use a pad to gently swipe it all over your face, or do it the Korean way and just pat-pat-pat it on with clean hands. You can even try using it as a DIY sheet mask essence as Katsy did!

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The Saem Iceland Hydrating Toner (P560, Althea Korea)

Here’s a toner that arguably has the cutest packaging and the most interesting presentation in the group. The bottle doesn’t just look like fancy sparkling water - the toner inside creates foam and tiny bubbles once shaken! I wasn’t even aware that it could do that when I ordered it online, but imagine the aliw factor once I discovered it. Despite the dancing bubbles and the seemingly thicker consistency, the toner is runny, light, and non-tacky. There is a cool, slightly floral scent that reminds me of the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. (I suspect that that is this brand’s peg, as their Iceland Hydrating Cream has a similar look and scent as said sleeping mask.)

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Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner (about P455 to P650, Shopee)

If you love your original formula Dickinson’s Witch Hazel Toner but wish it could be just a teensy bit more gentle, then your prayers have been answered! The enhanced version of this old favorite contains an alcohol-free formulation (versus the original’s 14% natural grain alcohol content), as well as aloe leaf juice and hyaluronic acid. There’s barely any tackiness at all, and the witch hazel scent is less pronounced. It’s still there, but definitely not as intense as with the original formula. Perhaps call it the lite version? Unfortunately, this variant isn’t yet available at Healthy Options, but there are a few online sellers that carry this.

Burt’s Bees Daisy White Facial Toner (P895, Beauty Bar)

I remember being drawn to this when I attended Liz’s Burt’s Bees workshop as well as reading about how it became an HG toner of hers. True enough, it’s hard not to fall in love with the refreshing lightness of this product! No stinging and no stickiness. The line is especially developed for Asian skin, and daisy flower extract is said to have long-term brightening properties. Bonus: It has a pleasant sweet citrus scent. Though the toner might initially surprise you as the liquid is brown from the bottle, the mild scent and watery, non-sticky feel immediately turns the experience into a delight.

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Tony Moly Floria Nutra Energy Toner (P1,098, Tony Moly)

The most viscous of our recos, I tested the Nutra Energy Toner as part of the 10-step Kbeauty skincare challenge. According to the description on the bottle, this is an essence-type toner with argan oil. I find that the cloudy gel’s serum-like consistency is close to the product line’s next step in the routine, the Floria Nutra Energy Emulsion. And because of its thickness, those who wish to simplify their routines can eschew the essence and just stick to this as a 2-in-1 option. I did not experience any discomfort or stinging while using this, though I would like to note that this has the most tackiness of the five toners. It’s not uncomfortable, however, and you only feel it when you start patting your skin. There’s a light floral scent same as what can be found in the rest of the Floria line.

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Pure Beauty Urban Shield Clarifying Toner (P1,299, Watsons)

Despite the astringent-sounding name, this Korean-formulated runny-gel toner is alcohol-free and contains a host of hydrating and/or nourishing ingredients such as dipropylene glycol, glycerin, galactomyces fermented filtrate, and pomegranate extract. Skin absorption is speedy and tackiness is kept to a minimum. I suspect the clarifying term refers more to the antioxidant and anti-pollution properties of pomegranate, the Urban Shield line’s star ingredient, rather than any astringent features.

Whatever your skin type is, hydrating toners definitely deserve a spot in your routine. I find that there's no going back once you’ve tried two weeks or more with a hydrating toner - the soft, supple skin it gives helps with our chok chok goals! Have you tried hydrating toners yet? I'd love to know what your HGs are!