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The Skin-Balancing Product Stephanie Never Knew She Needed

Bonus: It's really fun to use.
Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner, $55, available at

Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner, $55, available at

"My pores are huge." This is both a memorable quote from the classic film "Mean Girls" and an apt way to describe how I feel about my face most of the time (especially in the summer). My skin falls squarely in the "combination" category. I'm prone to breakouts and my T-zone gets oily, but my cheeks and forehead tend to be dry, sensitive and prone to redness. So coping with this worst-of-both-worlds skin situation really requires the right combination of products — and ingredients.

Sunday Riley's new toner (its full, awesome name is "Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner") has proven to be just what my late-summer complexion needs. If its name and the thought of a gel-based toner that melts into a water before absorbing into your skin didn't immediately have your interest piqued, well, you and I are two very different people. But here's the really cool part: The experience of using this product actually lives up to the hype its packaging promises. Dispense a couple of pumps of the pale green, thin gel onto a cotton pad and swipe it over your skin for an instant cooling sensation. (Don't worry, it's mild, not Pop-Rocks-like). As you sweep it over your face, the magical alien formula really does "melt" and become more liquid, disappearing after a few seconds. And in its wake, you'll be left with tighter-looking pores, a velvety matte (though not chalky) finish and a more even skin tone. For me, it's the perfect pre-makeup step for days when it's crazy-humid and my foundation would normally melt off in mere minutes.

A closer look at the ingredients label reveals why this toner is so legit. Bentonite clay (which is often used in oil-absorbing masks) sops up excess oil and de-gunks pores; marshmallow extract calms redness; manuka honey serves as a natural antibacterial agent (to help ward off acne); cucumber, green tea and witch hazel extracts are antioxidants that tone and protect skin. At $55, it's pretty pricey for a toner, a.k.a. the skin-care step most people think you can skip. But considering its multi-pronged strategy for fighting breakouts, pore hugeness, redness, oiliness and inflammation, I'll allow it.

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Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner, $55, available at

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Homepage photo: Stephanie Saltzman

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