Hello Jasmine, I get this question a lot. First let's figure out what toners are because the definition is a bit loose. Toners have an umbrella term that represents astringents, make-up removers, and primers for serums. Classical toners tend to have a high alcohol composition which helps as an additional cleanse. This helps remove impurities so serums can better penetrate the skin. Fancier toners will also have extracts that are beneficial to skin to ideally make it more receptive to moisture and treatments. Green beauty toners are often formulated with floral waters which in my opinion excel beyond the classical toners because they're much more nutrient rich which means your skin can receive more benefits.
Now - what do they do? In the way that a cleanser should cleanser, a moisturizer should moisturize, a toner would tone. This means ideally it should help condition your skin which can include any of the following:
- improving moisture levels and hydration retention
- enhancing skin texture
- managing complexion
- refreshing dull skin
- increasing absorption rate of serums
Personally, I believe a well formulated, high quality toner is very helpful for good skin and I use them in my daily regimen. I won't argue with those who say it is a waste of money because toners don't give instant results that cleansers or moisturizers do, where with those products you'll feel cleansed and moisturized, it's hard to quantify the feeling of "toned". I will say this, I consider a good toner essential to giving me my best skin and going without it does indeed hinder the performance of every other product in my regimen. I can see/feel when my skin getting better after regularly using a toner versus when I do not. It's the subtleties. I consider it similar to drinking tea and juices, your skin is not going to show anything right away but stick with it and your skin will get that glow. Juicers and tea drinkers should know what I'm talking about.
As for La Bella Figura and May Lindstrom, I can't tell you what their intents are but if they said that, I'd guess that it's a mix of the two. Perhaps they changed their minds from when they originally had that stance and they now believe that toners are effective products. It sure doesn't hurt that they're selling a product. I do think it's a bad business move for them ti say that and then end up producing a toner, because it makes me wonder how authentic it is when they champion their product when they don't even seem to believe in it. Though keep in mind that neither of these brands have a dermatological or chemistry background so perhaps as they gained more experience in this field and had exposure to more information, their perspective on this changed. I'd respect them more if they didn't disparage this when others were selling toners but are now fully embracing it when they have a toner to sell.
Regardless, some good ingredients to look for in toners depend on your skin type. Firstly, I recommend floral waters because they contain a lot of nutrients including antioxidants and minerals that your skin can absorb. Look for the ingredients that can have anti-inflammation properties because it helps counter all types of problems like aging, redness, and breakouts. I personally don't like for toners to contain any oils because it should be light. In order to use oils (which are mainly used for fragrance) and maintain a light texture, toners often use emulsifiers and my personal philosophy is that there should not be too many chemicals in the toner especially if it is a spray since you will ingest some of it (through your nose). For dry skin, look for hyaluronic acid that is biologically identical to the ones already present in our skin, as a lot of chemical hyaluronic acid is actually not able to be effectively absorbed. Go for smaller particles that will absorb easily into skin, try to stay away from alcohol not only for what it can do to skin but the fact that it also destroys beneficial ingredients. Because this is a very pure product, try to buy products where the first five ingredients are organic or wild grown.
Beyond this guideline, I'd urge you to give toners a good long test run to help make up your mind.