Reviewed by Charley

Tilth Aloe Restoration Toner ($32) is an interesting multitasking toner from an interesting company. The brand avoids using in its formulations parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petroleum-based products, silicones, synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, animal/dairy bi-products, gluten and GMOs. Antioxidants aloe and cactus appear in various forms, as well as beta-glucan. Glycerin and sodium PCA are always welcome for a dry-skin sufferer like me. And gentle exfoliator gluconolactone works on erasing signs of photoaging. The preservative sodium benzoate might be an irritant for some, and although there are conflicting reports out there about the safety of combining it with ascorbic acid, I erred on the side of caution and set aside my vitamin C serum while testing this toner.

The last ingredient on the list, alteromonas ferment extract, was the most intriguing. It is a biologically active exopolysaccharide (EPS) produced by marine bacteria found in the hostile environs of abyssal hydrothermal vents. EPS is thought to protect the microbes against the high concentration of heavy metals, high pressure and extreme temperature in the vents. Abyssine 657 – the brand of alteromonas ferment extract in Restoration Toner – calls itself the “survival molecule.” While it smacks of marketing puffery, I did find a few promising studies on PubMed on the subject of marine EPS, not just in skincare, but also in various medical applications such as wound healing, cell therapy and tissue regeneration. It is an ingredient to watch.

When I first tried Tilth’s Aloe Restoration Toner in winter, I found it too drying. But now that heat and humidity is upon us, it was refreshing to discover that it’s all I need underneath my moisturizing sunscreen to keep my skin in balance all day. At night, it augments my gentle cleanser without stripping my skin. During a recent heat wave, I was tempted to try Tilth’s suggestion to “spritz” it on. Bad idea… I accidentally inhaled some of the stuff and my lungs were irritated for a few days. I couldn’t discern immediate improvements in skin elasticity and wrinkles, but Tilth does deliver on its promise to combat dull skin. I also noticed faster healing on a paper cut and new acne marks; my guess is it would do the same for shaving nicks, post-dermabrasion redness and sunburn.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Flower Extract, Glycerin, Sodium Lactate, Gluconolactone, Polysorbate 20, Sodium PCA, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder*, Sodium Benzoate, Sorbitol, Beta‐Glucan (D), Opuntia Ficus‐Indica (Cactus) Stem Extract, Proline (L), Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Panthenol (D), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil*, Alteromonas Ferment Extract

*Certified Organic Ingredient