Reviewing the Akar Skin Balancing Toning Mist

For the past three or so months I have been using the Akar Skin Balancing Toning Mist as my toner. Because I am using the Byroe Toning Essence in the mornings, I have only been using this in the evenings. I actually chose to put it in the evenings and not in the mornings due to the product, but I’ll get into that as we discuss my thoughts on using it.

I know Toners aren’t the sexiest category of skin care. They are often skipped and not really talked about. They are however important. what they do is make certain that every last little bit of makeup that your cleanser might have left behind is gone. In fact you know your cleanser is working by looking at the proof on your toner pads. But they are more than just cleanser insurance. They help restore your skin’s PH balance and can help improve the texture of your skin. The right toner can also help add backup to the serums that you plan to follow with after you’ve finished toning.

I am personally a big fan of them.

Well I’m a big fan of the right toners anyway.

So let’s look a little closer at the Akar Skin Balancing Toning Mist.

This alcohol-free, 100% vegan, hydrating toner was deemed the “Holy Water” by Allure magazine. Rose and Neroli flower waters form the base for our superfoods formula, creating a non-sticky mist that both improves elasticity and maintains the pH level of the skin at optimum.

In addition, Balance also enhances the skin’s ability to absorb nutrients thanks to anti-microbial and exfoliating salicylic acid from White Willow Bark, which prevents build-up in pores; as well as antioxidants and carotenoids from Saffron stem cell extracts, which aid the skin in repairing and regenerating. Balance is the ultimate staple for all skincare routines and skin types.

Full Ingredients: *Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Water, *Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Flower Water, Aqua, Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Crocus Sativus Meristem (Saffron) Cell Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment
*Organic or Wildharvested

Okay this is an ingredient list I like. It is short and to the point without a lot of extras cluttering up the space with hard to pronounce words. Seven ingredients in total including water. Water as we all know is good for the skin and since there were no claimes put to the water (like minerality or special sourcing) we’ll just leave it with: Water Good and break down the other six ingredients. Are you ready? Fabulous.

Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Water: In general a flower water is a diluted version of an essential oil derived from a flower. In this case rose, it still has some of the same qualities as the essential oil, but less concentrated and tends to cause less sensitivity.  Rose flower water has been used in skincare for literally centuries and contains some antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds, as well as some fragrant components. (don’t worry we’ll cover secnet after we run through the ingredients.)

Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Flower Water: Like the Rose, this is a flower water, although derived from Neroli. While this does have some skin toning benefits (although every source I looked into was vague about what they were) it is mostly there for scent as the scent has been known to promote relaxation.

Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark Extract: This is an anti-inflammatory and was actually used as the precursor to aspirin. Most of what I have found has been about new studies regarding its use in pain relief. This Ingredient Spotlight suggests that it is helpful in diminishing wrinkles, always a plus in my book.

Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate is an antimicrobial preservative that also moisturizes and conditions the skin. I’ve used this in several different products and I tend to like seeing it on a list.

Crocus Sativus Meristem (Saffron) Cell Extract has anti inflammatory properties and in addition to being one of the most expensive spices in the world, saffron may actually have anti-aging and possibly even anti-cancer benefits. I went down a rabbit hole with medical journals on that one. No one seemed to be conclusive, but it is an interesting group of studies. I suspect if it is true the cost of saffron will go up as well. But that is another discussion. Since so many ingredients are demonized for the possibility of causing cancer it is nce to see something that is being studied for helping to prevent it. I’m sure it is is here for the anti-aging parts but I just thought that was neat. (and yes I am geek enough to go diving into the medical studies over the weekend when i have a little more time.)

Lactobacillus Ferment is a probiotic with anti-acne benefits.

Okay so those are our ingredients and I have to say the list looks good. But a list can look as fabulous as it wants, it is how it works that matters. First off, as I am sure you can see from the above photo and probably guessed from the term mist in the name, it is a spray toner. I’ll admit, at first I didn’t like spray toners. They are however growing on me. This one sprays well and evenly. I also have to say I love the frosted orange glass bottle that it comes in. It is really pretty and looks luxe as well as feels luxe in the hand. I know, looks shouldn’t matter, but I feel really fancy using it.

The scent is predominantly neroli with a hint of floral from the rose. It is far more orange than rose. I know some people have issues with the Rose scent, but it really just keeps the neroli from smelling like orange juice. The scent is, in my opinion, lovely. It lightly lists on the skin and then I take a reusable round to wipe off the excess and remove the last of the dirt and makeup residue from my skin.

Here is the trick with this toner though. If you are too heavy handed with the spray, your face will feel sticky and it will take forever for the toner left behind from the cotton rounds to absorb into your skin. This is one of the reasons I started using it only at night. I have more time in the evenings and to be honest I like breaking my nightly routine down into sections and drawing it out. Don’t get me wrong, some nights I am exhausted enough to just wash my face and slap some moisturizer on before falling into bed, but most nights I kind of luxuriate in a lengthy night time ritual. It helps me unwind before bed and is sometimes the only quiet time in the day.

So the fact that I have to wait for the toner to settle down a bit isn’t a problem in the night time routine.

And it is very easy to apply too much (because the spray feels nice) and to get a little sticky.

Beyond that, my skin really loved it. I had a couple of days where there was too much sun (even though I did use sunblock) and this toner did help calm and sooth my skin as well as take off the remnants of the day. I was over all very impressed with it. I will continue using the toner until it is gone and add it to my products to repurchase list. I will still only use it at night however as it does need more time to settle than I generally have in the morning. Over all though, I am happy to have this Akar Skin Balancing Toning Mist in my skincare routine and will certainly look into other products by the brand for future skincare trials.

Cruelty-Free Beauty Box

Derma – E Essentials Toner Review

The Derma E Essentials Radiance toner is a trial size that came to me in a Beauty Box recently. I have to say I was very eager to give it a try.  I’ve seen Derma E around for a while, but never managed to pick anything up from the brand so I was curious to try it.  I’d heard pretty good reports about the brand and it has been on my list to try out for a while. In case you are wondering about cost, at Lovely Skin, where I end up picking up a lot of skincare products actually (because I can add multiple brands to the cart at the same time and lock in on good sales) the full sized Derma E toner retails for $14.95. Currently it is on sale for $10.47.  

Personally, I happen to like toners.

I know toners are sort of the blah category of skin care.  They aren’t as debated as moisturizers and not as sexy as serums, and they are often forgotten. They are quite useful in a good skin care regime, though.  Their first (and primary role in my book) task is to provide back up to your cleanser. Your cleanser says it’s taking off all of your makeup, but the toner is going to come along behind it and make sure the job is well done. It’s like your cleanser’s supervisor. The toner helps you know if your cleanser needs a promotion and a raise or if they aren’t worth their salary (ie. Retail cost) and need the boot.

As it checks in on the cleanser, it provides your skin a hit of other skin care benefits.  What those are depends on the toner.

The Derma E I’ve been testing out for the past month promises…

Our alcohol-free, exfoliating, beauty toner with Glycolic Acid helps to tone, tighten and brighten for a soft, smooth and luminous appearance. A must-have essential for radiant-looking skin. Benefit:  Tighten and brighten for a soft, smooth and luminous appearance 

All in all it sounds pretty good.  So let’s look at the actual product. First up, because it is me, we will take a sniff from the top.  I’m sure there is some product somewhere that I won’t automatically sniff when opening, but thus far I haven’t come across it. 

(I even sniff the coffee jar every morning when I open it even though it doesn’t really change.  Admittedly that is partially because one year my aunt decided to substitute my regular coffee with the hazelnut blend she preferred and it caught me off guard.  I’ve been checking ever since.)

The scent is very floral.  It is best described as a general floral mix that leans heavily towards rose.  While the scent isn’t completely overpowering, it is very noticeable.  It also lasts.  It isn’t the sort of scent that dissipates as soon as you close the bottle.  The scent is on the toner pad and as you apply it, you are surrounded the entire time you are using the product. While this isn’t my favorite scent, it isn’t a deal breaker scent either.

For me a deal breaker scent is the one where even if I knew a product worked really well I would find reasons not to use it because of it’s scent. While this isn’t a scent I would naturally be drawn to, it isn; one I would avoid if I purchased a full sized bottle.

Just the toner on the cotton round

Of more concern is the color of the toner.  I know that sounds really strange, but stick with me a moment. When I dispensed it on to the cotton round, the white cotton was immediately stained a tannish color. (it is more noticeable in person than in the pic, but can still be seen there.)

Since one of the primary functions of a toner is to let you know how well your makeup removers worked by taking off the last traces I wasn’t too keen on the color of the toner. Foundation is usually the last product standing and the one the toner has to clean up after.  I do judge my cleansers based on how much foundation is left on the toner pad. The problem is that the toner is kind of a tannish color on the cotton and the foundation is sort of a tannish color on the toner pad.

You see the issue?

With a little practice i was able to work with it. I mostly had to use the toner on my face a few times when I wasn’t wearing any form of makeup to see how the cotton round looked after being used in general so that it was easier to see left over product. Also as I do a double cleanse the amount of product left on my skin by the time i get to the toner isn’t usually a lot. But it was a relatively quick adjustment to make. It’s just a personal preference more than anything else. I tend to favor toners that are clear.

But in addition to policing the cleanser, the toner has other benefits. This particular one is supposed to tighten and brighten with the glycolic acid doing the heavy lifting in that department. Glycolic acid breaks down the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and sweeps them away. This did a pretty good job of that.  My skin did not have any dull patches or dry spots appear during my trial.  I wouldn’t say I was luminous but my skin looked clean and fresh. In the end, it is a very good toner.

Because of the color of the fluid and the scent, it isn’t going to be my favorite go-to toner, but I can say that I don’t mind using it and wouldn’t mind picking it up again. In fact, the travel sized toner wouldn’t be a bad addition to my travel bag, once I pack it up again (I took my travel bag apart so I could use up the products and not have them go bad while waiting for me to travel again).  Glycolic Acid toners are where I tend to lean when traveling as it is an ingredient that really seems to help my skin out when I travel.

The color is a personal annoyance, but after working with it a bit (using the toner when I didn’t have foundation on) I was okay with it.  If you have issues with floral scents, specifically rose, I would recommend avoiding it.  Otherwise, it is a decent toner, sold at a decent price and I wouldn’t mind using it again.

Pixi Skin Treats Clarity Tonic Clarifying Toner

I picked up this Pixi Skin Treats Clarity Tonic Clarifying toner because Target was out of the Pixi Glow Tonic that I actually went in to buy.  I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t like this toner.  The simple reason was that I was used to the exfoliating toner and while I was using it, my skin looked really good.  I had some sort of magical combination of products in the late summer early fall that just made my skin fabulous.  Then the weather changed and what worked for me at that time started to not work as well for me.

Because this was the point where I ran out of the Pixi Toner I was using and picked up the new Clarity Tonic, I was inadvertently harsh on this toner for the first week I used it.  I just started using it at the wrong time.  But I pushed through and adjusted my skin care routine for the seasons and the products I was using.  I made up for the lack of exfoliating toner and used a different exfoliator and jiggled things around a bit for the seasonal change. I was on pretty good footing.

Then I started having to wear masks more. 

Not that I wasn’t wearing them before, cause I was.  I just wasn’t leaving the house all that much so the mask time was limited.  For the past month or so things have called me out of the house more.  Holiday and birthday shopping, meetings, fall garden needs and several things needed for home repair pre winter as well as the regular grocery shopping all meant more time in a mask.

It all added up, and my skin started to show it.  While I am prone to clogged pores on the lower curve of my orbital bone, the mask just makes it worse.  I also started getting clogged pores and whiteheads on my chin. This is where this Toner came in really handy.  According to the Pixi site…

Clarifying tonic with potent AHAs, Antioxidants, and balancing Probiotics helps to clear skin and minimize the appearance of pores.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Propanediol, Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Glycolic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Salicylic Acid, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Centella Asiatica Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract/Extrait de Canne à Sucre, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract, Lactic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol

Pixi Beauty

I can’t say that it did much for the enlarged pores on my cheeks. But oh my darlings, this did amazingly well on my clogged pores under the eyes along the mask line and on my chin.   I went from not really liking this toner to absolutely adoring this toner. It is a clear liquid in case you are wondering why there are no pictures really just showing the product. It just looks like water.

Now I am about a week away from emptying this bottle of toner.  Surprisingly, I have three other toners (not Pixi) lined up in my skin care drawer and ready to test out.  I rarely keep toner backups in the drawer to be honest.

So even though I will not need to run out and pick up a toner as soon as this runs out, I will be very sad to see it go and will be soon picking up another bottle of this.  To be honest at this point in time, this may actually be better than the Pixi exfoliating toner I used before.  I think as long as I am using the masks, having a product like this on hand may just be a good idea for me. I will certainly be buying this toner again.


Superfoods Box

Trying out the Akar Skin Balance Toning Mist

I’ll be honest, most of my thoughts involving toner include things like ‘I really need to pick up some reusable cotton rounds instead of using the disposable ones’ or ‘I don’t like the scent of this toner.’ And of course there is the, ‘wow my makeup remover really left a lot behind if that is what’s coming off on the toner cotton round.’

It is the skin care product that in the past I have not given a lot of thought to. Which is strange really when I think about it.  There have been times where I have skipped moisturizer or serums, but I never skip toner.  I have been washing my face and then using toner since middle school. Admittedly then it was mostly an acne fighting toner, but it still counts.

Perhaps it is that I now have more acne from wearing a mask in the heat than I have had since my teen years that has caused me to think about this.  Either way, think about this I have and I am starting to pay more attention to toners.

Now for those of you wondering why bother with toners at all, I was always taught that they remove the last traces of the day from your face.  They take away whatever dirt, excess oils or even any residue left behind by your face wash. It is essentially the tag team partner for the face wash. When used in the morning it gives you a clean canvas for whatever you put on during the day and at night it takes everything off so that you can sleep without whatever life put on your face sinking in over night. (or clear the path for your night time products).  Then of course there are the ingredients included in the mix that are supposed to do something other than just take off the day.  Each product is different. 

According to the product page for the Akar Balance Toning mist

Deemed as the “Holy Water” by Allure, spray your way to glowing, healthy skin. This non-sticky Rose and Neroli scented mist sets gently into the skin, providing deep hydration, improving overall elasticity, while simultaneously keeping the pH value of the skin’s acid mantle layer at the optimum level. Salicylic acid from White Willow Bark is both anti-microbial and exfoliating, helping prevent build-up in pores as well as acne-related issues. Stem cell extracts from the rare Saffron flower contain antioxidants and carotenoids which aids the epidermis in repair and regeneration. Last but not least, Balance enables greater absorption of nutrients by lowering the skin’s surface tension, which means that all the good stuff – in this toner, and everything you apply next – will be fully absorbed, right into your skin.

That seems like a lot for this toner and to be honest, I am not entirely certain how to actually test many of those claims.  But let’s go through what I am capable of testing at home.

First of all, it is a spray.  To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of spray toners. I’ve used them before, but it isn’t my preferred method.  I really do prefer that I dispense it onto the cotton round and then apply it to my face rather than spritzing my face first and then wiping it around. I will say that it is a very fine mist and sprays out nicely. And the spray is not a deal breaker.

The rose and neroli scent was interesting. For me I think it was a little odd mostly because I tend to like perfumes with neroli in them.  It is a scent that I like.  (For those not familiar with it, the scent is slightly orang-y – like the fruit not the color – but not overly sweet, more of a tart orange). It does blend well with the rose and it is a lovely scent.  However combined with the spray application it made me feel as though I was spraying perfume on my face. I knew I wasn’t, but it sort of felt like I was.

Also, it is a sticky spray.  Not oh my goodness I’m coated in honey sticky but tacky to the touch. I didn’t mind this all that much, especially since the description listed it. It was relatively easy to get used to thought.

But it is really all about the effect on the skin.  Now I have been getting more break outs recently.  I did find that with this spray, the blemishes that erupted weren’t as red and painful and tended to heal more quickly with less scarring. With the exception of the places where the mask connected to my face (where I tend to get an outline of clogged pores if I wear it in the heat) I did notice I had less clogged pores appearing on my face as I used this toner.

To be honest, it was a very good toner.  My skin did like it and it did really keep the irritation down on my break outs.  Personally I’m attributing that to the willow bark. And despite my early qualms I did enjoy using it. 

Would I enjoy using it again?  Absolutely. 

Do I think that it works so much better than my regular toners that I would be willing to pay the $55 price tag on a regular basis? No. I do not.

I understand that some of the ingredients, like saffron are quite expensive.  I have a family recipe that calls for saffron that I make once a year and I am always stunned by its price when I have to buy it. So I understand why this toner is so expensive.  My regular toners are between $5 and $10 (generally speaking Thayers and Pixi products).  Occasionally I will splurge and try out a toner in a higher price range, there are several that I really do like that are higher priced. However, for me to pay $55 for a toner on a regular basis, it has to be a lot better than my standard toners.  While I am willing to admit that it is a bit better than my other toners, it is not far enough above them in function to justify the price.

Will I keep this on my list of products to look out for if there is a skin care sale?  Absolutely.  If there is a sale that knocks $10-$15 off the price I would scoop this up in a heartbeat. I would then use every drop. It is a great product.  It is just slightly over priced for what I feel I get out of it.

Would I feel differently if it weren’t a spray? I don’t believe so.  I really think that it comes down to a benefits versus price scale.  Truthfully if it were $15 less I would be willing to forget about the spray (and slightly perfume-y scent) and purchase this anyway. Perhaps if I did buy a full sized and saw benefits over a longer period of time, I would feel differently.  This sample sized toner spray that came in my August Allure Box lasted two weeks. It contained 1.5 mL worth of product. The full size is 70 mL.  So there is the full size would last a little over a year and a half.

There is something to be said for that, however the little expiration jar on the back of the sample sized Akar bottle claims the product expires in 6 months.  I don’t know if the larger bottle has the same expiration date.  If it does, I don’t know if I could use the product completely before it became expired.  I think I would have to look into that before making a purchase.  If it didn’t expire in under 12 to 18 months than I could almost see the price being justified.

While my thrifty soul will still be holding out for a sale, I will be looking into the expiration date as well.  Meanwhile it was a lovely glass bottle that I enjoyed seeing in my skin care line up and enjoyed using.  I was glad it came in my subscription box and I am now adding it to my empties bin.  Perhaps it will return, perhaps it won’t, but it was a very good product to receive in my Allure Beauty box.