A while ago, I posted a two-part piece on toners: "What is it? Toners and do we need them?" Part 1, Part 2.

As you remember, I was trying out two toners then, from which I was going to do a comparative review sometime later.  Well, the time has finally come. And here are the competitors:  Kinara Re-Balancing Tonic v. Aveda Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist.

The first toner I tried out was Kinara's Re-Balancing Tonic ($40, 6.7 fl. oz), which falls into the middle category of toners -- with less drying alcohol than an astringent would have, but with more than what you would find in a freshener. I was using it as part of Kinara's oily skin line, which, admittedly, did its part to curb my breakouts, but not extraordinarily so.

Here are the ingredients:

Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, SD Alcohol 40, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Isoceteth-20, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Salicylic Acid, Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Allantoin, Fragrance, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cinnamonum Camphora (Camphor) Bark Oil, Menthol, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Yellow 10.

What I like is the high-up inclusion of aloe vera on the ingredient list -- a nice addition to counter act the drying effects of what then follows: SD Alcohol 40 and Witch Hazel (two of the most common astringing ingredients found in toners).

Also nice for acne sufferers is the beta hydroxy salicylic acid, calming chamomile, free radical-scavenging sage and the uber-moisturizing (but non-greasy) sodium hyaluronate.

What's more, cinnamon, menthol and lemon peel oil give it a nice, pleasing fragrance. So far, so good, but let's go back up to the top of the ingredient list.

Skipping past the emulsifier isoceteth-20 we unfortunately get to a long list of undesirables: phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, and propylparaben. Whoa! That's four parabens and one nasty preservative. And that's enough for me to look elsewhere.

For all the purists out there I chose Aveda Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist ($19, 5.0 fl.oz) as a comparison. Right off the bat, what I liked more about this toner over the Kinara one was the product design: it comes as a spray, which makes for a quick, easy and non-wasteful application. Kinara, on the other hand, makes you resort back to applying the product with a cotton ball.

But let's get to the ingredients. Here they are:

Aqueous (Water/Aqua/Eau) Extracts/Extraits Aqueux: Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf, Aloe Barbadenis Leaf Juice, Quercus Alba (White Oak) Bark Extract, Hamamelis Virginana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Alcohol Denat., Rosa Damascena (Rose) Extract, Sodium Coco PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Maltodextrin, Sodium Gluconate.

The one good thing Kinara has on Aveda is the inclusion of two moisturizers (aloe and sodium PCA) before any of the acting ingredients. Aveda chooses to lead off its line up with peppermint, which perhaps can be forgiven since it provides a wonderful, refreshing scent that also works as a skin soother.

Trusty aloe comes next, followed by white oak bark extract, which is an astringent, an antiseptic and a diuretic that will help tone and strengthen the skin. Witch hazel follows, and is the primary astringing ingredient in this formula.

You'll notice that Aveda has this not as a primary ingredient, but rather as a secondary one -- placing it smack dab in the middle of the rest.  What's nice about this is that Aveda is using it conservatively, making sure that it won't over-dry sensitive skin types (which witch hazel most certainly can do). Another acting ingredient is the rose extract, which, in addition to providing a lovely fragrance, also works as an astringent, an antiseptic and a hydrator.

Rounding out the list is the innocuous preservative sodium coco PG-dimonium chloride phosphate, the binding agent maltodextrin, and the chelating agent sodium gluconate.

So, the winner in the battle of the toners?  That goes to Aveda, for its paraben-free formula. Other toners that I like, and have reviewed here at Truth in Aging include: Reviewed and recommended: Bioelements Power Peptide Tonic; Reviewed and recommended: Ole Henriksen's African Red Tea Face Mist; and Male Order: A’Kin Pure Rose Hydrating Mist.

Ingredients:


Kinara Re-Balancing Toni: Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, SD Alcohol 40, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Isoceteth-20, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Salicylic Acid, Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Allantoin, Fragrance, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cinnamonum Camphora (Camphor) Bark Oil, Menthol, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Yellow 10.

Aveda Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist: Aqueous (Water/Aqua/Eau) Extracts/Extraits Aqueux: Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf, Aloe Barbadenis Leaf Juice, Quercus Alba (White Oak) Bark Extract, Hamamelis Virginana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Alcohol Denat., Rosa Damascena (Rose) Extract, Sodium Coco PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Maltodextrin, Sodium Gluconate.