Managing oily skin can feel as futile as fixing a leaky faucet. Until you find the right tools to slow the steady, shiny progression that forms over your brow, it feels impossible to solve.
Those tools are, in fact, grooming products. You need a good cleanser to wash away excess grime without drying the skin. You need a good moisturizer (or two) that prevents pores from clogging and preserves this balance. And between the two, you need a toner, which is unique to your skin type. Toners are best used for guys with oily or combination skin, and they seep deep into your freshly cleansed face to further unclog pores, since the cleanser probably didn’t rid of everything. Most importantly, though, they honor the moisture levels in your skin by slowing oil production without parching it. They’re unlike other oil-eliminating products, such as astringents, which obliterate all moisture and dry out the skin. A good toner will do the job responsibly.
So, think of it this way: The cleanser cleans the slate and unclogs pores. The toner balances oil production and further empties the pores. And the moisturizer preserves the hydration levels in the skin without making skin even more oily. For the sake of this article, though, we’ll focus on the toners. Here are six that work well to balance oil production, if your shiny skin feels otherwise impossible to manage.
The Body Shop Tea Tree Toner
Skin-soothing tea tree oil is the banner ingredient here, and works to calm irritation and disinfect the skin. (Thus, The Body Shop’s toner is an effective post-shave soother — try it out before applying your after-shave balm.) It helps minimize pores and keep them clear, to prevent oil buildup and breakouts. It’s one of the most cost-effective options on any list, too, and The Body Shop carries an entire affordable line of tea-tree products to help soothe and balance skin.
Golden Door Soothing Toner
The self-care experts at Golden Door loaded their toner with three key ingredients: green tea extract to promote circulation, cucumber extract to hydrate and calm the skin, as well as nettle extract to reduce swelling and firm the face. It’s calming enough for sensitive and normal skin as well (and of course combination skin), though it may be too gentle on really oily types. That being said, it’s a surefire option if you don’t want anything too drying. And before you balk at the price, know that 100 percent of Golden Door’s profits get donated to children’s charities across the United States.
Public Goods Witch Hazel
Public Goods prides itself on its minimal branding and straightforward products, and its Witch Hazel toner is exactly that: the title ingredient is regarded as one of the best alcohol-free oil-balancing toners out there. Better yet, it disinfects the skin and soothes things like bug bites, eczema and chapped skin with an assist from calming aloe vera.
Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner
Jasmine water, a distillation of flower petals, calms redness in Herbivore Botanicals’ toner. Meanwhile, antioxidant-rich green tea extract boosts cellular stimulation and soothes skin, and white willow bark deploys salicylic acid to reduce swelling, fight infection and clarify healthy oil levels in the skin. It’s a refreshing face mist on its own (used in moderation), but an effective balancing toner by trade.
Sunday Riley Water-Gel Toner
Sunday Riley’s toner goes on as a soothing gel—kind of like aloe vera, though the base here is actually bentonite clay, which extracts excess oil and grime. It transforms into a more liquid substance as it absorbs oil, and tones skin with marshmallow extract (to minimize redness), cucumber, green tea and witch hazel extracts (to firm and disinfect the skin). There’s also manuka tree extract, which helps balance oil and preserve hydration.
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner
Glycolic acid is a potent ingredient in toners, working to slough off dead skin cells and surface the healthy ones. It prevents breakouts and smooths the complexion. The high concentration of glycolic acid in The Ordinary’s blend makes it a formidable opponent to oil buildup, though it still works to clarify the skin and preserve healthy moisture levels. Also in the recipe are Tasmanian pepper berries to reduce irritation and aloe vera to soothe skin. But because glycolic acid can be tough, if your skin is oily and sensitive, we’d pick another one of the toners on this list.
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