Tag Archives: toner


To be honest, when I saw the press release for the new Aqualia Thermal Boosting Essence Water, I thought, ‘hmm sure’, even though I have professed my undying love for the it’s sister serum several times before both on this site and verbally to people (I’m an Aqualia evangelist). Continue reading VICHY // AQUALIA THERMAL BOOSTING ESSENCE WATER


Omorovicza was kind enough to send me a sampling of their most lauded products. Since I am using Differin at the moment (prescribed to me by my doc), I have a review so far of the products that I am able to use in tandem with the retinol. Once I get through my first three months (check back in May), I will make my way over to the Copper Peel, the Gold Eye Lift and the Gold Shimmer Oil.

I was really excited to try these products out–I have heard so much about them, especially the mask, and had high expectations.

The Thermal Cleansing Balm has a consistency similar to Clinique’s TTDO, but maybe a little bit thinner. It looks black in the pot, but spreads out to becoming quite translucent. It has a slight warming sensation as it is massage into the skin, and leaves the face feeling hydrated and soft. It removes all makeup, making cleansing a 1-step process.

I’ve heard pretty crazy things about the Deep Cleansing Mask: “don’t use it before a big event, it will bring pimples to the surface”, “your face will need a few days to recover”, and the like. This made me excited–bring all the pimples up now! I want them gone! And it definitely does really deep clean your face. I use it on the weekend so that my face has cleared up a bit before the work week.

It has a slight warming sensation for me, and really works to smooth the skin and the clay tightens up pores (closing pores is kind of a myth, but this mask really does something). I love to use it as the second mask when I’m giving myself my mini facial (exfoliating mask, clarifying mask, hydrating mask).

The Queen of Hungary Mist is a hydrating mist that can be used as a toner or throughout the day to refresh makeup and add moisture. The scent is lovely–orange blossom-y, but not overpowering. I do love this, but this is something I don’t think I could afford on a regular basis. If I was a fancy pants, I would definitely keep this around on my desk for a pick-me-up.

Omorovicza’s products are quite pricey, but if I was to buy one product (so far in the set), it would be the mask. If you’re not one to pony up the cash for facials on a regular basis, this product would be a good way to justify spending around $100 for facial-like effects.


Sometimes, in the skincare world, all it feels like anybody talks about is exfoliating–scrubs, brushes, toners, masks, moistruizers, serums, etc.etc. the list goes on and on.

I’m a huge fan of exfoliation, but over-exfoliation is dangerous territory. Skin can become red, raw, inflamed, and thin which makes skin more sensitive to touch and the sun.

It can be hard to restrain yourself from too much exfoliating–who doesn’t want baby smooth, soft skin every time they wash their face? Exfoliation is necessary, but we must be careful what we’re doing it with and how often.

If you are using several different treatments on your skin, i.e. serums, toners, moisturizers, retinol, acids, etc., then it is important to make sure that what you’re using doesn’t cancel out another product’s function. I, myself, am now using a doctor-prescribed retinol at nights on my face (for acne), so I need to make sure that I’m not combining retinol with glycolic acids, because glycolic will actually render the powers of retinol redundant.

As of right now, my exfoliating includes using my Clarisonic in the morning, followed by Clarins Gentle Exfolliator which contains a small amount of glycolic acid.

At night, I simply just double cleanse, apply my retinol and eye cream, wait an hour (to let the retinol sink in), then apply moisturizer. Retinol on its own will resurface the face, and can cause some flaking or peeling, so it is important to be gentle with the skin when using this ingredient. Once or twice a week I may do a scrub (Exfolikate, which yes, contains glycolic, however, I rinse off the scrub so it doesn’t matter) if my pores are feeling congested, and one night a week I might use Alpha H’s Liquid Gold.

So here we are finally. Onto the review of my two toners.

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator: This is a great introductory toner for someone who is nervous about using acids. It is so gentle, no burning or stinging, and has a lovely slightly thick feel to it. Less watery, more lotion. Lovely.

Alpha H Liquid Gold: This is a much stronger exfoliator, at about 5% of acid. I use this totally alone at nighttime. I know. So boring and plain, right? But, by excluding any extra serums or moisturizers, it allows the acid to work, uninterruptedly. Don’t worry, your face may feel slightly dry at first, but the feeling goes away. It can be used under a moisturizer, but I prefer to let it work to its full potential.

Who knows–this still may be considered as too much exfoliating for one person, but I really feel like my pores get congested easily, and this formula helps to keep breakouts at bay and my skin smooth.

As always, please remember: If you are using any products at all that contain any acids or retinol, you MUST use a sunscreen. Your skin becomes more photosensitive from these products and any anti-aging/scar or dark spot diminishing you were hoping to accomplish will be all for naught if you don’t wear a sunscreen.



Toronto is buzzing about Province Apothecary–Canada’s newest addition to the natural skincare game. Julie Clark, PA’s founder and creator, makes all of the products herself in Toronto. Julie is a Holistic Health Practitioner and Aromatherapist and incorporates her knowledge of essential oils and natural ingredients to create beautiful, healing skincare products. The range contains only natural, raw, wild and organic materials that are sourced locally.

Julie also creates bespoke perfumes and gives holistic aromatherapy skin care treatments in Toronto. I cannot say enough good things about this brand–products that are so natural that you can eat and they work (plus, I love the beautiful packaging).

Moisturizing Cleanser & Makeup Remover: For some reason I was expecting this to be a cream, but it is actually an oil (a mix of sunflower seed, avocado, jojoba, raspberry seed and evening primrose, to be exact)–and a really nice one at that. Sunflower seed oil is easily absorbed into the skin, rich in vitamins and non-comedogenic. Often cleansing oils are mostly mineral oil, which clogs pores, and I was so happy to discover an all-natural oil cleanser that worked. The fragrance is light but beautiful, with extracts of rosemary leaf, bergamot and lavender, but not overpowering or irritating by any means. The oil is lightweight and leaves skin feeling so, so soft and really hydrated. It does exactly what it says. I use this with my Clarisonic sometimes and always finish with a wash cloth. Definitely my favourite of the four (though I really love the toner as well).

Invigorating & Balancing Toner: Again–smells just amazing. Witch Hazel and Geranium wake you up with their bright scent. Spray on after cleansing or throughout the day for a Beauty Elixir-esque pick-me-up.

Repairing & Conditioning Lip Balm: This is a really light balm, that smells great, applies like butter, but isn’t overpowering. Lavender, Calendula and Peppermint hydrate and heal cracked lips while giving the illusion of fresh breath. I would think that boys would love this gem as it doesn’t have a shiny finish or any tint.

Regenerating & Stimulating Exfoliator: A really gentle and versatile scrub that can be tailored to any skin type. Mix 1 tsp of the exfoliating powder with the product of your choice, based on your skin type: honey for acne, yogurt for oily skin or AHA exfoliation, and oil or cream for dry skin. The scrubbing granules are made of oatmeal, making the particles softer than your average scrubbing beads (great for more sensitive and delicate skins).


I heard somewhere on a blog recently that toners don’t do anything. And thinking about it, it’s so hard to know which products are working when you’ve got a billion different steps to your skincare routine. A toner, by definition, is used to finish cleansing the skin and exfoliate the pores of impurities– thus, ‘tightening’ the pores. But with ‘acne-fighting’ and ‘age-defying’ products on the market, who’s to know what works? We’ve got lotions and creams that also fight these skin concerns. Nonetheless, I’ve used toners that have been obviously doing something, I’ve used toners that have worsened my skin just in general, and I’ve used toners that do absolutely nothing at all.

I don’t have a specific toner philosophy (like Amanda), and I generally use just one after cleansing– I usually go for an acne fighting one. Amanda swears by the Beauty Mouth method, which is using an exfoliating toner, then followed by a moisturizing toner. I tried that method with Peter Thomas Roth and Mario Badescu products, and felt like they just did nothing.

Tried and true, Yonka and Kate Somerville take the top spots for me. Yonka’s Emulsion Pure is an acne-fighting toner, which you’re supposed to apply after cleansing, then leave for thirty minutes, then moisturize. I saw results after about two weeks, and as soon as I swapped it for another toner I wanted to try, I saw immediately that I was breaking out more. That being said, I do have oily skin, and for drier skin types I would recommend using the Yonka only where you’re breaking out rather than all over the face.

Kate Somerville’s Clarifying Toner is another acne fighting toner that actually stood out from the abundance of products that clutter my countertop. I noticed after using up the entire bottle that my acne scars around my mouth had significantly faded and that my breakouts, while still there, were minimal and not meltdown-worthy. These two toners don’t give that typical toner ‘sting’ that some people live for, which is probably for the better

–Anna Raponi


If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past three years of high school, it would be that adults really have no idea the stress we teens are put through. Between the long hours of school/homework (thus resulting in the lack of free time), pressure to get extremely high grades (getting into university has become more and more competitive these days), maintain somewhat of a fitness routine, squeeze in a few extra-curriculars (ahem, like writing for a blog) and, you know, having somewhat of a social life, it’s super hectic and we get like, no credit. And with said angsty years comes the all too wonderful bundle of swinging moods, acne and those awkward years that mysteriously have disappeared from all social networking sites (untagging is my best friend). Anyways, what I’m getting at here is that it’s been a hella frustrating ordeal in terms of my face over the past, I guess, four to five years. I remember as a kid my face was always dry and chapped. As I started breaking out, I experimented with many, many products and somehow ended up with extremely oily skin for a good three years. I honestly thought that I was just one of the unfortunate few with this skin type and somewhat found ways to cope with the shiny days–until about a month and a half ago, when God blessed me with an angel, in the form of a middle-aged Polish facialist who had better skin than yours truly (a good 30 years younger).
Amanda and my mom got their first jet peels and were completely wowed by the results. My mom’s facialist, Tanya, said that the jet peel would work great on my acne-prone skin, so my mom was more than willing to bring me in (thank God). Yada yada yada, Amanda’s already told you about the jet peel.
Tanya arranged that I would come in every two weeks for a total of  five jet peels, then we’d try some laser to remove the scarring. She set me up with a whole new regimen, which I was very apprehensive towards. I hadn’t heard much about the all-natural brand, Éminence, that the spa used/sold (and I mean all-natural, every single one of their products sounds like you could eat it–and you probably could). Amanda had heard good things, and quite frankly, what I was doing wasn’t working (a prescriptive called Tactuo). Not only has my skin really calmed down since switching gears, but I can’t even classify my skin as oily anymore. It’s normal (!). This may not sound like very much but let me tell you, when your normally high-maintenance face requires no touch-ups 5 hours in, you know something great has happened.

The cleanser smells super herby and I’m not so into that, but it’s gentle and I use it at morning and at night. Same goes for the moisturizer–morning and night, last step. Tanya also recommended the Yonka Emulsion Concentrée, which you need to dilute with distilled water (50:50) unless you prefer to have no skin at all–I use this in the mornings, post-wash. At night, I use Peter Thomas Roth’s Glycolic Toner instead, which is a little stronger and exfoliates non-abrasively. When I’m feeling particularly diligent or I have something important the following day, I’ll treat my self to some Généfique face and eye serum at night following my toner. Oh, and once a week I use the Clear Skin mask (also smells like a hippy) to give my skin a little kick. That’s it. The combination of the facials and the products have not only done heaps in clearing my skin, but have also faded a lot of the marks from old breakouts. Ya, the regimen isn’t the most pocket-friendly, but when we’re talking about your skin, particularly your face, how you feel about it is so important. And honestly, sometimes you just need a new perspective on your approach.

–Anna Raponi


Beware: this toner smells faintly of onions, but if you can get past that, it’s a great exfoliant, will fade acne scars, and your face will look clearer and feel smoother.

Why does it smell like onions, you ask? Because it contains onion extract (along with sulfur, helps to regulate oil), among the other natural exfoliating ingredients of lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, etc. The smell fades after a few minutes, but right after application, you are definitely hit with the pungent smell.

While I was in Paris this past summer on my honeymoon, I had a few priorities (other than, you know, sightseeing)–hit up the famous French discount pharmacy, pick up a tonne of Marco Polo tea from Mariage Frères, eat as many pastries and quiches que possible, and see if I can search out the ever-elusive Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 toner.

I figured that it would probably be available in the pharmacies, but I was wrong, it was nowhere to be found. Then, finally, on our second-last night in Paris, we were walking the Champs-Elysées, and through a small alleyway and a courtyard to my right, I see some steps that lead up to a clean, white door, and marked beside it? Biologique Recherche.

It was their only spa in Paris.

But it was at the end of a long, hot day full of walking, and I couldn’t possibly bear trying to convince my new husband that I needed a very expensive toner from this particular spa RIGHT NOW and it was the only chance I would be able to get it during our whole stay in Europe. I mean, I had already dropped a bunch of money at the pharmacy, added about 5 pounds to our already heavy luggage, and now I wanted yet another beauty product? He is very understanding about my beauty product obsession, but I didn’t want to push him too far. I mean, we still had 2 weeks of the vacation together, and who knew what else I was gonna buy?!.

Normally, I/most would expect a toner that contains acid in it to sting, because then you can feel that “it’s working”, right? P50 contains no alcohol, which eliminates that stinging feeling, and also will not dry your skin.

This lotion helps to eliminate any clogged pores, and helps to re-balance the skin and kick it into high gear so that it learns to self-regenerate. It also regulates sebum secretion, moisturizes, and balances the skin’s acid pH.

I must admit, at first the smell put me off, and I wanted the sting back from my Peter Thomas Roth toner, but you see the results. My chin acne is pretty much gone now, and my skin is clearer and has a more translucent, glowing quality to it.

I apply this toner day and night after cleansing as my first toner (I follow up with a hydrating toner, La Roche-Posay’s Serozinc). P50 is also a multifunctional little gem as you can also use it on any in-grown hairs (hello, bikini line), or post shave as a preventitive treatment on yourself, or your man.

Now, this isn’t the cheapest toner in the world–and it’s pretty hard to get your hands on some as it’s relatively unavailable in Canada. However, you can order it in from the US from a spa.

I really wish that I could keep using this product once my bottle is gone. If it hadn’t been for some lovely PR people, I never would have been able to try it. So, if you find yourself in Europe, do search this out and stock up with a few bottles–you won’t regret it.


For someone with acne-prone, oily skin, toners were always the step of my skincare routine that I thought got rid of the zits– possibly because for years, a toner was only good in my eyes if it stung. However, I’ve acquired a tad more education on these astringents and, well, made myself even more unclear on which one I should be using. The whole science to it is quite confusing and everyone has their own opinion on what a toner needs to do, if any at all (I once heard that if you are using a good cleanser, no toner should be required at all. hmm.). So stumped and dry out of my last toner, I did the rounds at all my favourite beauty joints (mainly via internet) and found this Kate Sommerville one to be most promising.

Basically, I want my toner to treat any current breakouts, prevent new ones, control oil and fade acne scars. That’s all! Yah, so, I had to accept the fact that there is no solution on earth that will really work that kind of magic, but I’ll take what I can get. Hence, the clarifying toner from Kate Sommerville. I actually first heard of the brand by it’s highly acclaimed spot treatment, EradiKate. So, I figured Kate must be pretty good in the acne department. This toner promises to fight off acne-causing bacteria (check), lighten acne scars (check), control oil (check) and unclog pores (not on the list, but check). This stuff should be everything I’m looking for (and more).

I don’t even think you can classify my skin as ‘oily’ because it is far more oily than practically every girls’ I’ve met who claims to have this skin type. Yah, blah blah blah, it ages slower and so on, but it is a pain in the ass 24/7 and I would trade it for anything. In terms of this toner, I wouldn’t say it controls oil throughout the day, more so it keeps oil at bay for around three hours. I’ll take that. As for my breakouts, I’d say this stuff does what most toners do… keeps things regular as in a few zits here and there but nothing major. But, where this stuff shines is the whole fading of discoloration category. As most sufferers of acne can agree, most of the time the actually spot isn’t the problem, it’s the WHOLE shebang that surrounds it, ie. redness (!!!). And to top it all off, once the pesky zit goes away, we’re left with a scar. Not cool. But this stuff lightens my scars and my discoloration, fighting half the battle of us acne-prone soldiers. I can dig it.

–Anna Raponi