Paula's Choice Skin-Balancing Toner Made Me Believe in Toners Again

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Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

What We Like
  • Non-irritating 

  • Hydrating

  • Helps control oil

  • Bottle is recyclable

  • Helps remove makeup

What We Don't Like
  • Dried out skin using twice a day

If you have combination, sensitive skin and want the appearance of smaller pores, you won't regret adding the Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner to your routine. 

5

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

We put Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

I have a love-hate relationship with toner. You know the liquid dirt and makeup sweeper that is supposed to be everyone's second skincare step. Unfortunately, my combination skin loses its luster and becomes as dry as a desert just days after using any toner. But like the beauty industry, formulations are continually changing due to innovation and new ingredients.

Paula's Choice has long been a skincare pioneer and a brand I look to for skincare education, thanks to its ingredient dictionary. The informative website made me a fan. So as I searched for a new toner, the brand's Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner continued to come up. When I saw that the toner had niacinamide, I decided this was the one to try first. The powerhouse ingredient is one that I recently added to my skincare lineup in serum form. 

However, my skin didn't love it when I mixed it with other actives like retinol and vitamin C. But, in a toner, I thought this might be a better combo. Keep scrolling to read more about my experience with this skin-balancing toner.

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

Best for: All skin types

Uses: Hydrating, toning, and minimizing the appearance of pores 

Potential Allergens: Burdock root

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, chamomile, burdock root extract, ceramide, and hyaluronic acid

Byrdie Clean?: Yes 

Price: $21

About the brand: Paula's Choice Skincare was founded by Paula Begoun in 1995, becoming one of the first online skincare brands. Paula's Choice is known for its science-backed, clean skincare products along with their online ingredient dictionary. 

About My Skin: Hormonal acne-prone, combination skin with hyperpigmentation 

My skin is a character, but I now have a much better grasp of what my skin needs to flourish after much trial and error. My skin is combination and sometimes appears to have large pores with never-ending hyperpigmentation. But, it also thrives when it's properly hydrated with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, retinol, and even the right face oil. For this reason, I gave up toners because even the most gentle formulas would leave my skin scaly after a few cumulative days of use. 

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
Byrdie / Bianca Lambert 

The Feel: Light and hydrating 

The feel of this toner is lightweight and hydrating.  

The Packaging: Easy to use and recyclable 

The toner packaging is about what you'd expect—easy to use with a twist-on cap to seal the bottle securely. One thing to note is the blue bottle is recyclable. Paula's Choice partners with TerraCycle so you can send your empties back and earn rewards that you can redeem to support schools and nonprofits. You can also recycle your empties (and shipping materials) on your own. 

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
 Byrdie / Bianca Lambert 

The Ingredients: A powerhouse with a star standout 

The ingredients in this toner are what skincare dreams are made of with five components that hydrate, calm, and help even the skin tone: Niacinamide, chamomile, burdock root extract, ceramide, and hyaluronic acid. Of all of the powerhouse ingredients, niacinamide is the star. For those with uneven skin tone and large pores, niacinamide, aka vitamin B3, fades discoloration, prevents breakouts, and repairs the skin barrier. 

The Results: Solid, especially in one key area

When I read the words "non-irritating" on the back of the bottle, I thought, yeah, right. But I still went into this experience with high hopes. I was at the tail end of an over-exfoliation skin breakout because I was using niacinamide alongside actives, and my skin visually said, please stop. The first night I used this after double cleansing, I gently rubbed a toner-soaked cotton pad across my skin and looked down to see residue left from my makeup. 

The ingredients in this toner are what skincare dreams are made of with five components that hydrate, calm, and help even the skin tone: niacinamide, chamomile, burdock root extract, ceramide, and hyaluronic acid.

I continued to use this day and night until I felt my skin getting drier. I then made the switch to only using the toner at night. I had zero irritation, my active breakout became less inflamed, and I could layer my retinol without my skin being overstimulated. I also got immense satisfaction from looking at my cotton pad and seeing the toner capture the debris left on my skin even after a double-cleanse. I now need less makeup on my jawline and cheeks which is always a win since that is where I have the most hyperpigmentation. I can’t say for sure if this toner alone was responsible, but I know it’s become a star performer on my team. 

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
  Byrdie / Bianca Lambert 

The Value: Worth it

This product retails for $21. Value is in the eye of the skincare lover, but for me, a non-irritating toner is worth moving a few things around in my beauty budget. A little goes a long way with this toner. Since I use it only in the evening, I can see this bottle lasting a while. 

I had zero irritation, my active breakout became less inflamed, and I could layer my retinol without my skin being overstimulated.

Similar Products: You have options

Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner ($14): This budget-friendly toner's alcohol-free formula is packed with niacinamide along with licorice root and vitamin C and sits at a pH of 6.3. 

Facetheory Cera-C Pore Reducing Toner T1 ($19): Infused with 5% niacinamide, ceramides, vitamin C, aloe, and lactic acid, this alcohol-free formula hydrates, soothes, and fades spots.

Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum ($28): This non-comedogenic formula has the healing power of niacinamide mixed with a unique blend of antioxidant-rich ingredients like the Barbados cherry, Japanese raisin tree, green tea, and fig for a hydrating, skin evening skincare experience. 

Final Verdict

The Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner is a must-have if you have sensitive skin. I can't imagine my nightly skin routine without this toner, and my pores have never looked and felt better. 

Specs

  • Product Name Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
  • Product Brand Paula's Choice
  • Price $21
  • Size 6.4 oz.
  • Ingredients Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Polysorbate 20, Adenosine, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Oleth-10, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol.

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