‘Tis the season for heaps of hydration! This DIY was initially inspired by a popular lavender witch hazel toner product, but I decided to really amp up the hydrating/humectant-y goodness in the spirit of Asian-style hydrating toners (rather than Western astringent-y toners) and that amping has led us off into new territory. The final product is rich in humectants and skin-soothing goodies—perfect skincare things for ultra-dry January!
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The bulk of this toner is a combination of aloe vera juice, lavender hydrosol, and witch hazel. We get soothing goodness from the aloe and lavender, and both witch hazel and aloe are anti-inflammatory. Aloe also helps boost healing and collagen production, and witch hazel is astringent. Witch hazel does smell a bit funky, so I’ve kept it to 20%, and 25% lavender hydrosol gives as a non-funky lavender-scented end product.
The lavender hydrosol I’ve used is quite special; it was distilled by a reader! I met Jen at the Nanaimo Humblebee & Me meetup in April 2019 and she arrived with a selection of her freshly homemade hydrosols. The lavender was my favourite and she gifted it to me! I’ve been saving it for something special and I thought this toner was just the thing ❤️You can check out her YouTube channel here!
That soothing, astringent watery base is then amped up with a variety of humectants. Propanediol and sodium lactate are both inexpensive, effective humectants. I chose propanediol instead of glycerin as it is less prone to tacky-ness, but you could use glycerin if that’s what you have. For even more fabulous hydrating goodness I’ve also included some low molecular weight hyaluronic acid. If you want to learn more about hyaluronic acid and its different weights, I highly recommend this crazy informative post from Simple Skincare Science.
Some panthenol (vitamin B5) and allantoin round off the formulation. Both of these ingredients are moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and boost healing. Booyah! Allantoin is not very water-soluble (approximately 0.5%), so while the concentration is low (0.4%), it still takes a while to fully dissolve. I still had some visible particles around the 18-hour mark, but the solution was clear by the 48-hour mark.
Since nothing needs to be heated this formulation comes together in a flash. Simply weigh, stir, and you’ve whipped up a lovely lavender-scented skin treat. Enjoy!
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Lavender Aloe Hydrating Facial Toner
3g | 5% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
4.86g | 8.1% sodium lactate
12g | 20% witch hazel
12g | 20% aloe vera juice
15g | 25% lavender hydrosol
12g | 20% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
0.6g | 1% panthenol powder (vitamin B5)
0.24g | 0.4% allantoin (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
Weigh all the ingredients into a small beaker or measuring cup and stir to combine (alternatively you could weigh everything directly into the bottle and shake to combine). Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for the allantoin to fully dissolve. You can cover the mixture and leave it in the beaker or bottle it straight away, but if you do bottle is straight away be sure to stir up the mixture to keep the undissolved allantoin in suspension so it makes it into the bottle.
Transfer to a 60mL (2 fl oz) bottle, cap, and you’re done!
To use, apply to the skin after cleansing, but before heavier products like creams or oils. I usually use products like this after actives like vitamin C & AHAs, but before a gel-cream, lotion, and/or oil serum. I’ll dispense a few drops into my palm and gently massage the liquid into my face.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this toner contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 60g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could use a different hydrosol for a different scent.
- You could use all aloe vera or all witch hazel distillate if you want. You could also replace either or both of those ingredients with distilled water, but that will result in the loss of the benefits of the aloe and/or witch hazel.
- Please refer to the encyclopedia entries for the remaining ingredients for substitution ideas.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.