This pretty yellow Rejuvenating Pine Pollen Facial Toner packs a punch for skin that needs a bit of a kick in the pants in the refreshing category. Rich in humectants and alpha hydroxy acids, this toner helps encourage your skin to regenerate and stay hydrated so your complexion can be all “✨🌿🌟” instead of “💀🍤🍂”.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are one of those fancy-pants ingredients that seems to transform otherwise unremarkable shop-bought products into wallet-draining affairs. I was watching a YouTube video where said YouTuber was praising the merits of a certain AHA product, so I went and looked it up—$66/100mL. Yowza. Now, AHAs are pretty rad. They’re the “rejuvenating” part of this toner. In the most basic sense, AHAs are a chemical exfoliant. I say “chemical” to distinguish from “physical”—physical exfoliants like baking soda and sugar physically scrub off old skin, while chemical exfoliants help soften or dissolve it so it can be rinsed off. Both can be over-done, resulting in irritation, but if you have sensitive skin, a gentle chemical exfoliant is usually a better choice than a physical one as you don’t have to scrub at your skin.

Anywho, the AHA part of this toner helps get rid of old, dead, dull skin so lovely new stuff can shine through. Since this exfoliation does expose new skin cells to the wider world, be sure to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun—this is, after all, baby skin (or as close as any of us can get to it). Baby it! We’re getting our AHA’s from Multifruit BSC—an easy-to-use blend of fruit extracts that makes a lovely blend of AHAs. I added it at 5% (5g in this recipe) and that’s about middle of the road as far as recommended amounts go. AHAs are said to be safe up to 10% (Susan recommends starting much lower), but since Multifruit BSC is only about 55% active, so 5% Multifruit BSC makes a product that’s 2.75% AHA. I find I can feel that working, so I wouldn’t recommend starting higher than that, and if your skin is quite sensitive, use even less. If you make it and find your skin can handle more, feel free to add more, but I wouldn’t start with more.

I also included soothing allantoin and aloe vera, and panthenol, silk, and sodium lactate for their humectant properties (sodium lactate is also an antioxidant and can help battle acne—score!). A bit of olivem300 helps keep the toner from being too dry—it’s a water soluble ester, meaning it’s a sort-of-oil that will self emulsify into the toner. In this particular case you could try using 2g polysorbate 20 or 80 and 2g of a liquid oil of your choice as an alternative, but I really would recommend getting some olivem300—it’s super cool!

Now, for that pine pollen part. Back in December Penny sent me the raddest ever care package/box of delights/Christmas gift all the way from China. If you’ve spent any time in the comments section I’m sure you’ve seen her around—I think she may be my most prolific reader! I swear she’s tried fully a quarter of the recipes I’ve published and shared feedback on each of them. Anyhow—this magical box of DIY goodies. It was loaded with all kinds of amazing things. Moringa seeds, sea buckthorn extract, face masks, her homemade neem and clove soap, a soap stamp, wicked packaging, pine pollen, and more. I’d never heard of pine pollen before, and Penny said “I add a pinch of pine pollen to my toners and I’ve noticed a big difference in my skin in that it is much more manageable” so… ok. I can do that!

Pine pollen is a very light, very fine, yellow powder. My attempts at researching it turned up a lot of very woo-y type articles, asserting it contains every beneficial compound known to man (and several new ones!), that it will increase libido, decrease brain fog, make you lose fat and gain muscle, and just might let you finally grow that unicorn horn you’ve always wanted (ok, I might’ve made up one or two of those…). That is to say, there doesn’t appear to be much reliable information about pine pollen out there. But I figured it can’t hurt, right? So here we are. If you don’t have it, try bee pollen instead, or another botanical extract of your choice (green tea or cucumber would be nice).

To all of that I’ve added some fragrant rose water and astringent witch hazel, plus a softly bright essential oil blend. The final toner is a cheery yellow hue thanks to the pine pollen. I’m really enjoying using this Rejuvenating Pine Pollen Facial Toner after I wash my face, but before I put on some face cream ✨

Rejuvenating Pine Pollen Facial Toner

33g | 1.16oz water
0.5g | 0.017oz allantoin (USA / Canada)
0.5g | 0.017oz aloe vera 200x concentrate powder
2g | 0.07oz panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
2g | 0.07oz silk peptides (wondering about substitutions?)
2g | 0.07oz pine pollen
2g | 0.07oz sodium lactate (USA / Canada)
4g | 0.14oz Olivem 300 (USA / Canada)

20g | 0.71oz rose hydrosol
30g | 1.06oz witch hazel
5g | 0.18oz multifruit BSC (USA / Canada)

1 drop roman chamomile essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops spruce essential oil

0.5g | 0.017oz Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada) (or other broad spectrum preservative of choice at recommended usage rate [why?])

Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.

Weigh the water, allantoin, aloe vera, panthenol, silk, pine pollen, sodium lactate, and olivem300 into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to heat everything through and dissolve all the soluble ingredients (the pine pollen is not one of them).

After about twenty minutes, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and add the rose water and witch hazel. Stir to combine. Check the temperature—it should be luke warm from the addition of the rose water and witch hazel, but if it still feels hot, leave the toner to cool for twenty minutes or so, until it is just warm to the touch. At that point, stir in the multifruit BSC, essential oils, and preservative.

Decant the toner into a 100mL (3.3fl oz) bottle. To use, wet a cotton pad or jumbo cotton ball with the toner, and wipe that across your face. Repeat until it comes away clean, and follow up with your favourite moisturizer. Enjoy!

Read the blog for information on substitutes.

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 is likely to 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.