The 3 Best Botanical Toners from Brands You Haven't Heard of Yet
While I love cult-classic products as much as anyone, there is nothing more satisfying than the discovery of an under-the-radar, independent, indie brand whose products fulfill a seemingly intangible promise: All-natural, truly effective product that genuinely reflects the purpose driven values of the founders.
I found these brands because I wasn't able to find an all-natural toner that I liked in the mainstream retail channels. Disclaimer- I had some selective criteria: Highly aromatic, 100% pure and organic, genuine botanical distillate based, adequate astringent quality for my combination skin, and aloe vera for hydration & collagen stimulation.
Little Barn Apothecary, Oxalis Apothecary, and Poppy Austin, are the brands that rose to the top of my list for the toners I was looking for, along with the appeal of the rest of their assortment. These niche brands tell a story and create a sense of community through their philosophy, unique voices, and ingredients.
I also love how the addition to my bathroom space has made it more eclectic than ever. I think have enough beauty products, said no woman ever!
Little Barn Apothecary Aloe+ Rosewater Balance Mist $16 2oz
Ingredients: Aloe leaf juice*, Rosa Damascena distillate**, Hamamelis Virginianan Distillate (witch hazel)*, Hibiscus Sabdariffa extract* Radish root ferment filtrate. *Organic**Sustainably wild harvested
$16 for 2 oz. Mainly sold through online platforms (but not Amazon) - for a full list of stockists see here.
This was my personal favorite out of all for 3 main reasons:
#1- The Scent. Despite being a blend, it smells very similar to pure rosewater.
#2 The Composition. Aloe juice, rose distillate, witch hazel distillate, hibiscus extract. The witch hazel is what helps with the effective cleansing of my combination skin, and the softening effects of Aloe leaf juice and Rosewater leave my skin perfectly balanced. Hibiscus adds a touch of pink to the formula and is also said to stimulate collagen production.
This blend is also the only one I found for my skin type to be truly bi-functional: Effective as a toner, yet gentle enough to use throughout the day to refresh the skin like a facial mist.
#3 Quality and Clarity of Ingredients- The ingredients are described as “distillates” when appropriate, and not as flower waters or hydrosols. Also, when my product arrived I received a little letter explaining that the reason for long delivery time (10 days) is due to mixing product upon demand to ensure freshness. This is especially important when dealing with botanical distillates- (they are very fragile).
About Little Barn: Founded only 2 years ago by 2 entrepreneurs passionate about creating simple, beautiful, and efficacious products using the best quality organic botanical ingredients.
#2 Poppy Austin orange blossom hydrating toner $22 4oz
Ingredients: 100% Pure Distilled Orange Blossom Water
I know I mentioned I was looking for blends with Aloe Vera, but pure Orange blossom works well for times where skin is oilier than usual, or as a mild cleanser. The deep skin cleansing action drives out stale sebum, dirt and pollution from deep within the pores. In fact, I use it in the morning instead of washing my face with a cleanser. And just like rosewater, it has powerful antioxidant, regenerative, and anti-inflammatory qualities. The scent is not as gentle and universally appealing as rosewater, but just as fresh and uplifting- a proven mood enhancer and known aphrodisiac.
There isn’t much more to say about this amazing single-ingredient product. I trust the quality of this certified organic fair trade brand, and liked it better than a few of the other brands I tried. The quality packaging is also worth mentioning- while all quality brands use glass, not all use dark brown glass. The dark color prevents oxidation from the light, better ensuring the effectiveness and purity of an already fragile product (there are no added preservatives to this product)
About Poppy Austin- All products are responsibly sourced out of Morocco, at co-operatives run by Berber women. Many of their products are pure and simple one-list ingredient iconic elements of the region such as Argan oil, rosewater, and orange blossom. Their rose distillate at $22.50 for 4oz is on the higher end of the price spectrum, but it is quality, and an excellent toner for dry or sensitive skin. Poppy Austin is only available online, exclusively from their own site or from Amazon.com According to the brand, this distribution strategy was chosen to maximize control of the supply chain, in an effort to better ensure quality and consistency of the end product delivered to the customer.
#3 OXALIS Apothecary Rose + Neroli Toning Mist $22 2 oz.
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf juice, Bulgarian Rose hydrosol*, Neroli hydrosol, Witch Hazel, Rosehip extract, Radish Root ferment^
Similar to Little Barn, it also a blend of aloe leaf juice and rosewater, yet the third ingredient- orange blossom water dominates the scent. Be warned if you are expecting a pure orange blossom scent- the small of amount of radish root added as a natural preservative is more perceptible, and adds a little pique to it that takes away from the softness.
The witch hazel is labelled as a distillate, and I verified with Mountain Rose Herbs (their supplier) that the orange blossom and rosewater hydrosols are indeed distillates. The astringent quality of the orange blossom combined with witch hazel make this blend great for combination/oily skin. And as an added benefit, there is a tiny amount of rose hip extract in the formula- a fantastic natural anti-ageing element.
About Apothecary- Handcrafted in Brooklyn, all of Oxalis Apothecary's products are 100% natural and formulated with ethically sourced plant-based oils, herbs, and minerals, and the packaging is so pretty you won't mind leaving it laying around on your dresser.
Available at several all-natural specialty beauty retailers throughout the country (for full list see link) as well as Neiman Marcus online platform.
I hope you found this information helpful- it is not always simple to know which botanicals work best for your individual skin type, and in which particular blend. I purposely limited the scope of the review specifically to toners and not facial mists since these essentially address two different needs. The focus of facial mists is more on hydration, while a toner works primarily work to balance the PH of the skin, to remove impurities that the cleanser left behind, and to prep the skin for a serum.
As far as a brand to choose, the possibilities are endless- yet I hope I opened your minds to the appeal of Indie beauty brands. They are products you can feel good buying- innovative and authentic in their own way, they have a heart and a soul that comes out in their products.