Alcohol-free toners are becoming a popular skincare must-have nowadays. Unlike alcohol-formulated products, they purify your skin without causing irritation or extreme dryness. These products work well with all skin types, particularly for people with oily skin. If you want a softer and gentler approach to skin cleansing, having the right alcohol-free toner is the best way to go.
This article will help you get acquainted with alcohol-free toners and their advantages for oily skin. We have also curated a list of the 10 best alcohol-free toners available in the Philippines, and a buying guide with comments from dermatologist Dr. Katrina to guide you on your way to clear and supple skin.
Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz is the face behind Ask Your Derma. She is a board-certified dermatologist in Metro Manila. She is also an educator and digital creator on all things skin, hair, and nails. She is a Diplomate of the Philippine Dermatological Society and offers online video consultations. You can also catch her on her Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.
Our recommendation articles are carefully researched and crafted by the mybest Philippines team of writers and editors. To stay true to our company’s mission and vision to help users’ selection process easier, we also collaborate with experts from various fields to ensure that our content stays factual and useful.
Experts featured in this article only reviewed the content of our buying guide. They had no part in the selection or ranking of products or services listed.
The products and services listed are ranked independently by the editorial team based on the points mentioned in our thoroughly researched buying guide (as of 01-16-2023).
Here are some key points to consider:
Hydroxy acids may sound a bit intimidating for some, but these components are known as efficient exfoliants. They work great for oily complexion, as they unclog pores, prevent acne, and improve your skin condition.
If you are looking for an alcohol-free toner that cleanses stubborn impurities and leaves glowing and youthful skin, choose one with Alpha-Hydroxy Acids or AHAs. These are water-soluble components that target dead skin cells and remove them from the surface of your skin. They can help fight the signs of aging, lighten mild cases of hyperpigmentation, and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.
Popular AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and mandelic acid. However, although these substances offer good results, AHAs must be taken with caution, especially for those with sensitive skin. Dermatologists advise the use of sunscreen when using these products to prevent inflammation or redness.
Toners have evolved over the years. Now, toners are incorporated with different active ingredients that can target different skin concerns. AHAs are a great chemical exfoliant that exfoliates the topmost layer of the skin. If you'll be using a toner with an AHA, best to try it out 2-3x/week first.
Beta-Hydroxy Acids, also known as BHAs, are oil-soluble components that go deep into the layers of our skin and target clogged pores. Alcohol-free toners with BHAs suit oily skin types, as they combat the main causes of sebum build-up.
The most common type of BHA is salicylic acid. This is a potent ingredient used in treating acne, blackheads, and dirt that are deeply congested in your pores. Additionally, using the right amount of salicylic acid helps treat conditions common to sensitive skin, like inflammation, redness, and rosacea.
Like AHAs, always proceed with caution when using BHA-formulated products. If you are a first-time user, introduce these products gradually to your skin, or better yet, consult your dermatologist first.
BHAs (such as salicylic acid) are one of our go-to's for acne-prone and oily skin types. One way of adding salicylic acid to one's routine is through a toner. Make sure to patch test and check that your skin doesn't develop a reaction to this!
Poly-Hydroxy Acids or PHAs are much like AHAs. They are both active exfoliators but have different molecular sizes. PHAs have larger molecular sizes than AHAs, which means that PHAs are less likely to penetrate the outer layer of your skin.
PHAs are quite suitable for sensitive skin types, as these gentle exfoliants do not infiltrate deeply into the epidermis. These elements also help in removing dead skin cells without leaving a harsh feeling afterward. Common types of PHAs include lactobionic acid, galactose, and gluconic acid.
Sensitive skin? Then you might be better off with a PHA. PHAs, just like AHAs and BHAs exfoliate the top layer of the skin. However, because of its larger molecular size, it generally is considered a gentler form of an exfoliating acid.
If you are hesitant to try hydroxy-acid components on your skin, there are also alcohol-free toners made with organic extracts that are safe and naturally beneficial for oily skin. Read on to know more about the common botanical extracts you'll find in alcohol-free toners.
Witch hazel has been commonly used in skincare for centuries because of its multiple skin benefits. Known as a natural astringent, this extract helps control excess oil from your skin and minimizes large pores.
Besides that, witch hazel also soothes itchiness and inflammation. It also contains antioxidant components that protect your skin against harmful sun rays. Although safe for all skin types, people with dry or sensitive skin must use this ingredient with caution, as it may cause over-drying or irritation.
Tip: Patch test!
Although witch hazel has been used for years given its antioxidant, astringent, and anti-inflammatory effects, it can potentially be irritating to some people.
People with oily skin may experience a harsh and tingling sensation left by acne marks. Applying an alcohol-free toner with soothing ingredients like calendula, centella, and aloe vera can help alleviate this condition.
These three substances are suitable for acne-prone and oily skin types with their natural healing and hydrating properties. For instance, calendula heals scars and re-occurring acne on your skin. Centella does the same and even protects your skin against UV rays. Meanwhile, aloe vera is a soothing component that also helps in moisturizing your skin.
Centella asiatica is one of the trending ingredients, given its soothing benefits, making it a good option for those with sensitive skin. The same goes for calendula, wherein the calendula flower extract has frequently been incorporated into soothing products.
Rose water is a multi-purpose botanical ingredient that suits oily and tired skin. It plays an important role in your facial toner by balancing and restoring your natural skin's pH level. This ingredient also helps replenish your skin's natural oils, reduce redness, and keep your skin's youthful glow.
Hyaluronic acid and glycerin, on the other hand, are natural humectants. Glycerin moisturizes your skin and keeps it from feeling tight or dry, while hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by our skin and is totally safe for any skin type. This element locks in moisture and improves skin elasticity, making it softer and younger-looking.
Toners with hydrating ingredients are a nice add-on for those with dry skin. Look for ingredients such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid.
Tip: Should you still moisturize even if you have a hydrating toner? Listen to your skin! But in truth, moisturizers are more of a must rather than a toner.
Not all alcohol-free toners are made exactly the same. For oily skin types, consider an alcohol-free toner product with a formula or consistency that best suits you.
A common skincare routine includes a toner application after water-based cleansers. This step is vital, as it takes away stubborn dirt or make-up residue that remains on your skin even after washing. A regular alcohol-free toner is sufficient for cleansing oily skin conditions. This product is watery and lightweight, and for some gentle exfoliation, it could be applied using a cotton pad.
To tone or not to tone? Nowadays, cleansers have evolved to do their job gently yet effectivelyーprecisely to cleanse. Thus, gone are the days when toners are a must to cleanse what our soaps couldn't. Toners aren't a must, but if you use toner and enjoy it, then go do you!
Micellar water has revolutionized the way of skin cleansing and is now a must-have in any easy and effective skincare routine. With its multiple benefits, this product has also been used as an essential facial toner.
Micellar water is a water-based and alcohol-free product that is gentle yet effective for deep cleansing. It can remove waterproof make-up, dirt, and sebum, but does not have a tugging feeling once applied to your skin. Aside from that, it is packed with hydrating components like glycerin to help keep your skin soft and supple.
Micellar water can be used as a standalone or as part of a double cleanse. In general, they have been found to contain milder surfactants vs. normal cleansers.
Tip: Listen to your skin! If you feel your skin still has some dirt or residue, you can opt to do a second cleanse.
Essence is a product solution that is widely used in most Asian skincare routines. This product is a toner and serum combination and is normally applied after your usual toner and before serum application. It also prepares your skin for the next steps in your skin regimen.
Essence sits between toner and serum in terms of consistency. It is not as watery as a toner but not too thick like a serum. The best part of using this product is that it creates another layer of moisture and nourishment for your skin without damaging its protective layer.
Toner? Essence? In truth, these don't have standardized definitions. It is best to focus more on the ingredients included in the product and how they will address your particular skin concern.
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AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
A Double-Acting Alcohol-Free Toner
Rose Petal Facial Toner
A Cult Favorite Toner for Oil Control and Hydration
A Fast-Acting Toner That Targets Acne and Blemishes
Acne Defense Face Toner
Say Goodbye to Pimples With This All-Natural and Affordable Toner
Skin Micellar Cleansing Water
An In-Between Toning Step Approved for Sensitive Skin
Skin Mattifying Mist
Get a Toner and a Refreshing Mist in One Bottle
A Clarifying Toner That Heals Zits and Reduces Sebum
Supple Preparation Facial Toner
A Vegan Toner That Strengthens Your Skin's Natural Barrier
SuperSkin 3 Monolaurin + Mandelic Acid Toner
A 2-in-1 Toner That Prevents Breakouts and Unclogs Pores
Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner
A Non-Comedogenic Toner for Calming and Refreshing Troubled Skin
COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner is a best-selling Korean toner that is known for its anti-acne and anti-sebum benefits. This double-acting alcohol-free toner lives up to the hype as one of the best products for oily skin types.
This product is formulated with AHA and BHA for back-to-back skin cleansing and nourishing. BHA deeply unclogs your pores and removes excess oil, grime, and dirt. AHA then follows and helps even out your skin tone. Your skin will definitely enjoy this product's hydrating and brightening power!
Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner became one of the sought-after toners because of its oil-eliminating and hydrating abilities. This product contains witch hazel extract that removes skin impurities and antioxidants that help combat the signs of aging.
To complete its benefits, it is infused with rose petal extracts that regenerate skin cells and lock in moisture in the skin. This alcohol-free toner is also formulated with glycerin, which actively softens your skin and keeps it hydrated throughout the day.
Pixi Glow Tonic is one of the most-searched toning products online due to its gentle cleansing and exfoliating components. If you are struggling with oily, acne-prone, and blemished skin, this alcohol-free toner will be your new holy grail.
Pixi Glow Tonic prides itself with its three potent ingredients. First, it contains 5% glycolic acid, an AHA element that gently exfoliates dead skin cells and renews skin barriers. Ginseng extract then reduces fine lines and acne marks. Lastly, this product has aloe vera extract that improves discoloration and smoothens complexion.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly yet effective alcohol-free toner for your oily and acne-prone complexion, choose Human Nature’s 100% Natural Acne Defense Toner. As the name implies, this product is made with all-natural ingredients that combat sebum and acne-causing bacteria.
This alcohol-free toner is packed with tea tree extracts that mattify your skin and keep it free of pimples. It also has organic soothing properties which protect your skin from irritation. If you are dreaming of clear and shine-free skin, Human Nature 100% Natural Acne Defense Toner is the one for you!
Garnier Skin Micellar Cleansing Water is an all-in-one alcohol-free cleanser that is best for achieving a shine-free complexion without the harshness and irritation. It is less pricey than other brands yet rich in cleansing and mattifying elements.
This cleanser also acts as an in-between toner for a quick and easy skincare routine. If you want to streamline your products but still need to completely strip make-up, oil, and grime off of your skin, then this micellar cleanser and toner is the best way to go. Just apply a little on a cotton pad, gently glide on your face, and wipe away all unwanted impurities from your skin.
Who knew that a mattifying toner and an invigorating mist could exist in one skincare product? That is the power of Luxe Organix Skin Mattifying Mist. This is an alcohol-free product that protects your skin from harmful pollutants and excess oils. It can be used as a toner for your daily skincare routine and a spray mist for easy reapplication.
This locally-made toner is infused with tea tree extract, salicylic acid, and botanical extracts like honey, ginseng, licorice root, and tea leaf. When combined together, they work to keep your skin, hydrated, supple, and shine-free any time of the day.
Looking for an organic way of fighting pimples and excess oil? Beach Born Healing Toner might be your best solution. This alcohol-free toner is packed with natural components like aloe vera, chamomile, and lavender that calm down acne and firm up your skin.
This product comes in a spray bottle packaging and can be used as a day and night toner, a daily facial mist, and even as a make-up setting spray. Another great thing about it is that it can be used to calm insect bites and is even safe for kids as well!
If you want a toner that does more than cleansing, this one from Dear, Klairs is worth a try. It is an essence toner that works to remove dirt and replenish moisture in your skin as well. This vegan formulation consists of botanical ingredients like lavender extract that cleanse your pores and prepare your skin for fast absorption of nutrients from your other skincare products.
Other botanical components include centella asiatica and licorice root extract to calm inflammation and redness. Aside from that, it also has moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, panthenol, and aloe vera to boost your skin's natural protective barrier. Lastly, it has antioxidant properties that fight skin aging and protect your skin from free radicals.
Here's an effective alcohol-free toner that not only cleanses but also mattifies and brightens your skin. This mandelic acid-based toner from VMV is good for combating sebum and grime and also for helping you achieve a pristine and glowing complexion.
This product contains two prime ingredients responsible for healthy-looking skin. First, it has monolaurin, a coconut-based element that aims to lessen pimples and excessive oil production, as well as guard against future breakouts. Mandelic acid, on the other hand, is an AHA element that gently strips off dead skin cells and refines clogged pores.
Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner is a great option for users who want refined and energized skin. This toner is perfect for all skin types, even those with sensitive skin, since it does not contain harsh ingredients.
With calendula as its main component, this alcohol-free toner is best for calming acne-prone skin. It also reduces enlarged and clogged pores while protecting your skin from harmful irritants. Using this product as a part of your daily skin therapy will help you achieve that moisturized and problem-free complexion.
Below are some of the most asked questions on the web answered by Dr. Katrina!
It depends. Something that claims to be effective for all skin types is a huge feat. Remember, each person has his/her own individual sensitivities and tolerances, and at the end of the day, the only way to know if it will be ok for your skin is to try it.
Toners are best used after cleansing, so there's no need to rinse your face after.
You do you! Best to listen to your skin and skin needs and adjust accordingly.
Looking for other skincare products that are suitable for oily complexions? We've got you covered! Check out our expert-reviewed articles below for more recommendations.
Author: Sthephanie Labarentos
Editor: R. Umlas
Our buying guide was carefully researched and crafted by the mybest team of writers and editors, in collaboration with the expert featured in this article. We used the buying guide as a basis for choosing and ranking the product recommendations, and we looked at reviews and ratings from different E-commerce sites like Lazada, Shopee, and more.
No. 1：COSRX｜AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
No. 2：Thayers｜Rose Petal Facial Toner
No. 3：Pixi｜Glow Tonic
No. 4：Human Nature｜Acne Defense Face Toner
No. 5：Garnier｜Skin Micellar Cleansing Water
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