Found: 9 (Alcohol-Free) Toners That Make The Nice List

toner bottle

Design by Cristina Cianci

There are three things we'd rather not associate with our skin: dryness, buildup, and dullness. But according to experts, if you're using an alcohol-based toner, you might be hurting your skin more than helping it—welcoming all the above. Yikes. And though there are some forms of alcohol skin will thirstily lap up (think retinols, tocopherols, cetyl alcohol, oleyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and propylene glycol), there are others (SD alcohol 40, denatured alcohol, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol) you couldn't make us touch with a 10-foot pole. Dramatic but true. And what with toner being a vital step in our nightly regimen (it's the all-important gateway between our cleansers, serums, and moisturizers, after all), it's one of the most important products to make alcohol-free.

Renee Rouleau Elderberry Soothing Toner
Renée Rouleau Elderberry Soothing Toner $37.00

Key Ingredients

Elderberry is a medicinal plant rich in vitamin A and has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antiviral properties. It may fade age spots, combat acne, and protect skin from environmental damage.

More than one of our editors swear by this ultra-soothing alcohol-free toner from Renée Rouleau. Loaded with antioxidants, which contribute to enhanced radiance and skin-health, it features elderberry fruit extract as a starring ingredient to help ease inflammation and re-balance the skin with moisture and renewed vitality.

Skin Micellar Cleansing Water
Garnier Skin Micellar Cleansing Water $7.00

Alcohol-free and 100% affordable, this drugstore pick from Garnier is thoughtfully formulated to be easy on the skin while it removes stubborn makeup, dirt, and grime. And though it also makes for a smart cleanser or makeup-remover, we're fans of using it as an in-between toning step for a pristinely clean finish. 

Indie Lee Toner
Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner $34.00

This alcohol-free toner from Indie Lee is an under-the-radar favorite chock full of skin-saving pinch-hitters rallying for smoother, healthier, all-around brighter skin. Here's the lineup: CoQ10, hyaluronic acid, papaya, chamomile, sage, and cucumber extracts. 

Tammy Fender Essential C Toner
Tammy Fender Essential C Tonic $55.00

We have a special place in our heart for any skincare product boasting results as luxurious as the application itself, and Tammy Fender's heavenly tonic knocks both standards out of the park. Concentrated with antioxidants, vitamin C, and indulgent pH balancers, this botanical blend is an olfactory sensation and complexion-improving must. 

Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Toner
Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner $39.00

This alcohol-free toner is 97.5% organic and fortified with flowery fare steeped in ancient Korean beauty rituals (oat kernel, aloe vera, and fermented dandelion and argan oil), so it will transform tuckered skin for the better. Plus, it handily maneuvers every skin type, whether you lean oily, dry, or in-between.

Alcohol-free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera
Thayer's Alcohol-free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera $11.00

Sometimes our skin craves a back-to-the-basics approach, and this iconic alcohol-free toner from Thayer's satisfies the itch to a T. Enriched with prettifying botanicals like aloe vera, witch hazel, rose, and grapefruit, it's like a cool drink of water for the complexion. Praise be.

Murad Essential-C Toner $35.00

Not only does this alcohol-free toner from Murad boost skin with an adrenaline rush of antioxidants, but it also addresses other skin woes like dehydration, dullness, and lost elasticity. It's especially perfect for those exposed to lots of environmental stressors (in other words, if you live in a big city or love being out in the natural elements).

Grape Water Caudalie
Caudalíe Grape Water $10.00

There are only two ingredients (aside from the nitrogen) in this 100% organic alcohol-free spray toner: grape water and grape juice plucked directly from the hills of Bordeaux, France. Intrigued yet? Multifaceted in ability and application, spritz it anytime, anywhere to decrease redness and pigmentation while increasing hydration and luminosity. Consider it our obsession du Jour.

Sunday Riley Water Gel Toner
Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner $25.00

Key Ingredients

Manuka honey is derived from the nectar of manuka flowers and has antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It fights acne, reduces inflammation, and removes dead skin.

If you happen to fall into the oily and acne-prone camp, consider this alcohol-free toner from Sunday Riley sent from the heavens. Not only is the gel-to-water formulation incredibly novel (and addicting to apply), it's also a super-effective way for the toner's ample skin helpers (cucumber, tea tree oil, manuka honey, green tea) to penetrate deeply into the pores for an out-of-this-world glow.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 skin care habits that can worsen acne.

  2. Lin P, Hwang E, Ngo HTT, Seo SA, Yi TH. Sambucus nigra L. ameliorates UVB-induced photoaging and inflammatory response in human skin keratinocytes. Cytotechnology. 2019 Oct;71(5):1003-1017. doi: 10.1007/s10616-019-00342-1.

  3. McLoone P, Oluwadun A, Warnock M, Fyfe L. Honey: a therapeutic agent for disorders of the skinCent Asian J Glob Health. 2016;5(1):241. doi:10.5195/cajgh.2016.241

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