The Calming, Clarifying Toner Steph Uses Every Morning

Unlike the astringent formulas I used back in my teen days, it feels soothing and cool on the skin — no burning or stinging sensation to speak of.
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Aesop In Two Minds Facial Toner, $35, available here. Photo: courtesy

Aesop In Two Minds Facial Toner, $35, available here. Photo: courtesy

I know a lot of people think of toners as an extra, perhaps unnecessary step in a beauty routine — and usually, I agree. If you're using one that's not an exfoliant or a hydrating essence, it's really just a moisture-sapping time waster, as far as I'm concerned. But then, this summer, the humidity, heat and general New York City ick factor made my skin freak out: It was overly sensitized, very oily and yet dry in certain patches, with little under-the-skin bumps I couldn't quite figure out (and neither could my facialist). So I began to work a toner from Aesop into my morning skin-care routine, and it really did help. 

Part of the brand's somewhat comically named "In Two Minds" collection intended for combination skin, it focuses on balancing out oil production and keeping inflammation at bay to correct the exact kind of skin freak-outs I had been experiencing. The amber-colored liquid has a slightly herbal scent, like so many of Aesop's products, and unlike the super-astringent toners I'd used back in my teen days, it feels soothing and cool on skin — no burning or stinging sensation to speak of.

The toner is spiked with clarifying witch hazel, calming lavender oil, pore-clearing salicylic acid and hydrating vitamin B5 — but for me, the stand-out ingredient is niacinamide, which I'm obsessed with because it does basically everything (you can read all about it here). 

I can't say I'll definitely keep using this product through the winter (it may still be too drying for that time of year), but during the weird transitional weather we're dealing with now, I'll have it on standby. 

Aesop In Two Minds Facial Toner, $35, available here.

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