Our Rating: 4 stars

Reviewed by Kate

Whenever I think of a toner it reminds me of the alcohol-based astringents that I used as a young adult on my acne ridden face. Back then, if it didn’t sting I didn’t think it was working. I now know that all toners are not astringents (alcohol based) and are not just meant for drying up pimples. Many skincare lines offer toners that are touted as a final step of the cleansing process to remove any remaining cleanser, makeup, or impurities left behind. I typically overlook this step though for two reasons: the added cost and the extra step it would require in my regimen. I never felt any of the benefits from the few that I had purchased and always ended up with a nearly full bottle of toner long after I moved on to the next skincare line. When I was asked by TIA to try Living Nature Extra Hydrating Toning Gel ($35 in the shop), I wasn’t prepared for how good a toner could be for your skin.

When considering whether to give this toner a try, I briefly checked out the website. The general description is that it’s a “hydrating toner that is alcohol-free and will smooth, calm, and restore my skin’s ideal ph balance” seemed like it would be a nice experience so I agreed.  It wasn’t until about a week of use that I went back to the website to learn a little more about this brand and the product.  Living Nature Toning Gel is unlike any toner that I have ever used.  In fact, it took a couple of uses before I found the best way to apply it since I was used of applying a toner with a cotton ball to wipe away any remnants of my cleansing process.  I found that I wanted this toning gel applied on my skin – not wiped away. So after cleansing, I put a pea-size amount of toner on my fingertips and patted it all over my face and neck.  After 30 seconds it says that you can apply a moisturizer.

The website says that the toning gel smooths your skin with harakeke, active manuka honey, and larch tree extract to repair dehydration along with plenty of emollients to condition your skin.  The more I read about this product line and have learned about the wonderful ingredients that go into them, the greater appreciation I have for it. My skin feels so soft after it soaks in skin. No stinging, no tightness – even with the mild astringency of the flax gel (Phormium tenax leaf juice) or even if I apply it right after using a exfoliator.

The only drawback that I could find is that it has Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride pretty high up in the ingredients list.  I appreciate a lightweight barrier (in addition to the protection of shea butter) now that winter is here.  But when I apply my anti-aging serum at night I don’t want anything coming between me and the anti-aging benefits of my serum. I need all of the collagen building help that my 50-something skin can get.

So I’ve settled in with using Living Nature Extra Hydrating Toning Gel every morning before applying a moisturizer and have come to love what it is doing for my skin this winter. I have only been using it for about three weeks and am already prepared to highly recommend it. The website says that its healing properties are also great for sunburns (which I hope that I don’t have a need for) so I’m quite confident that this will be a great product for year-round use. Initially, I thought that by adding a toner to my daily regimen it would require extra steps that I would not find beneficial but that hasn’t been the case. In fact, it has added softness to my skin that I otherwise would not be enjoying this winter.

Ingredients: Aqua (water), Glycerin (vegetable glycerin), Sclerotium gum, Glucose (plant sugar), Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil**, Parfum (natural fragrance)*, Phormium tenax leaf juice (NZ flax gel), Bisabolol (from chamomile), Zingiber officinale (ginger) root extract, Mel (manuka honey), Glucose oxidase (from milk), Lactoperoxidase (from milk), Tocopherol (vitamin E), Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) oil, Limonene*, Linalool*. * From natural essential oils ** Certified organic