arcona cranberry toner

Our Rating: 4 stars

Reviewed by TIA Community Member on May 16, 2014


by Ragan

I'm in my mid-30s, and I have combination skin (oily T-zone, dry cheeks). Most of the toners I've tried in the past have been alcohol-based and quite drying, so I was happy to get the chance to try a toner that is not alcohol-based. After using the Arcona Cranberry Toner ($32) twice a day for a little over a month, I'm pleased with this product as a toner.

First, I use a cleanser and then pat my face dry with a towel. Following that, I'll dispense this toner onto a disposable cotton pad and apply it to my face and neck. It takes a little longer to dry than an alcohol-based toner would, which is understandable. While I wait for it to dry, I do something else (like apply a hair treatment) so I'm not wasting time.

I do feel a tightening effect when I use this, which may be due to the witch hazel and/or the cranberry extract, since both have astringent effects (shrinking pores, tightening tissues). Witch hazel is a common ingredient in this type of product. I find that this toner dries without leaving a residue. After it has dried, I then continue with my skincare routine, which varies based on time of day. Thus far, this toner has been compatible with all the serums, moisturizers, primers, and liquid foundation products I currently use. It is not causing my skin to break out, which is nice.

This is definitely less drying than alcohol-based toners, so if you have sensitive skin and find other toners and/or astringents too harsh, you might really like this. I am pleased that it does not contain any artificial fragrances or dyes; the only preservatives are vitamin E, essential oils, citric acid and benzyl alcohol (present only in very small amounts). Benzyl alcohol can be found in many plants and essential oils. However, my research revealed a few isolated reports of allergic reactions to benzyl alcohol in skincare products, so it is best to do a patch test if you have known skin allergies. I did not have a reaction, even after extended use.

I really like the way this product smells, but I've long been a fan of fruity-scented skincare products. The scent of this one lingers a bit longer than the scents of other toners/astringents I've used in the past.

This product makes some other claims that I'd like to address. First, it's advertised as a makeup remover. I've tried using it as a makeup remover, and it's certainly effective; it removes lip stain, eyeshadow and waterproof mascara easily. I also noticed that it removed traces of leftover liquid foundation that remained after cleansing with another product. So, it's a wonderful "second pass" makeup remover. However, I'd like to offer a caution: if this gets in your eye, it hurts! (Also, something oily from this toner remained in my eye nearly all night. So this should perhaps not be used as an eye makeup remover.)

Second, it's advertised as having cleansing properties. This product does not have any detergents or surfactants, and it neither foams nor lathers. Because of the issues surrounding getting it in your eyes, it may be best not to use it as a cleanser all over your whole face.

Third, it's advertised as hydrating skin. I actually feel like my skin has been fairly well moisturized while I've been using this. I have been using other moisturizers, as well, though, so I can’t attribute those results solely to this toner. It's certainly not drying, though, at any rate.

In the end, as far as the product claims go, I'd say this is an excellent toner, a decent makeup remover (for non-eye areas) and it has some hydration value. I'd argue that the manufacturer is making a few too many claims about the benefits of this product. However, that being said, I like the product very much as a toner.

I’ve already mentioned a few of the ingredients; here are comments on several of the others. This contains rice milk, which may help absorb some oil, as rice powder is commonly used for this purpose. (Since rice milk is essentially rice powder/flour and water, only the rice powder/flour would remain on the skin after the water evaporates.) Rice milk can be used by people with gluten intolerances/allergies since rice is gluten-free.

The antioxidants (from cranberry extract, white tea extract, grapeseed extract and vitamin E) may provide anti-aging benefits, although many sources suggest using a sunscreen in addition to antioxidants. In particular, the grapeseed extract contains an alpha-hydroxy acid (malic acid), which should always be used with sunscreens; however, this compound is present in only small amounts in this product.

I went into testing this product hoping to find a gentle, non-drying toner, and those expectations were definitely met.