Centella Toners
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K-Beauty Centella Toners

By Kate Limond
18/01/2023 | Read time: 5m

I love toners, not just for hydration, but because I can tell right away if it’s going to work for me. I’ll give it five days to be safe: usually products will break me out at the five day mark if it doesn’t agree with my skin.

What Can A Toner Do For Your Skin?

Your skin might differ from mine, of course, and in rare instances, a cream might cause closed comedones even after I’ve put it in the “safe” category and used up the majority of it. K-beauty toners are easy: I don’t want to jinx it but I’ve never broken out from a k-beauty toner!

As Bianca has said, “a toner is the first leave-on step that hydrates and treats, balancing your skin’s pH”.

I want a toner to hydrate and prevent my irritation before I do anything else in my routine, therefore a soothing toner or a fermented product, like the one from Missha, is the first thing I’ll put on my skin. As a result, I have a large selection of k-beauty toners to immediately calm my skin.

Although I use super gentle cleansers that don’t cause irritation, like the Beauty of Joseon Radiance cleansing balm and the Axis-Y Quinoa One-Step Balanced gel cleanser, I don’t want to wait until my serum step for calming effects.

I’ve written a lot about products that calm and soothe my skin, from serums to sheet masks and I’ve done an entire article about my rescue routine for irritated skin.

However, although I want my toners to soothe and hydrate, I also want them to contribute to my anti-aging routine. This is where centella asiatica comes in: I’ve written about the anti-aging effects of centella before in my Mary & May Centella Asiatica serum review. As I’ve previously said, not only does centella help with wound healing with its anti-inflammatory effects, it’s full of antioxidants and can help with collagen production, which, over time, plumps out your skin.

Whilst glycolic acid, retinal and peptides have stronger effects as anti-aging ingredients, supplementing your routine with centella is very smart because it will soothe your skin and support your anti-aging routine. This is why it’s in so many Korean skincare products and why you hear me talking about it so much!

I’m putting two excellent k-beauty centella toners head to head in this article and they’re both great for different reasons.

Cosrx Centella Water Alcohol-Free Toner

Texture

It’s a very thin, light watery toner in a mist format. I love a mist because it is easy to apply and feels refreshing – it also happens to be a very quick way to hydrate and calm your skin, which is something I’m looking for in a toner!

It should be suitable for all skin types because it has a lightweight texture.

Ingredients

In Cosrx’s usual style, this has a short ingredient list to reduce the risk of irritation and I particularly like this in a product that I use for calming my skin.

Mineral water and centella are the key ingredients but it’s good to see additional soothing ingredients, like betaine and panthenol.

The ingredient choices Cosrx decided on for this product makes it a well-rounded product for calming and soothing!

Experience

First up, it is hydrating and soothing – it does exactly what I want it to do so I’m happy about that.

I already mentioned the mist format and I want to call it out again for an important reason! Despite the humidity in the UK and the lack of evaporation of water from skin generally, I still find I need a lot of hydration. This could just be a me-thing but you might relate to it, too!

A mist product is ideal for spritzing between layers, even serums and essences, to ensure optimal hydration. It can also improve spreadibility of thicker serums: I apply a light layer of a mist first and then my serum goes on more easily. This is especially important if my skin is irritated.

Mixsoon Centella Asiatica Toner

Texture

I thought the Cosrx was lightweight but this is even lighter and dries pretty quickly. I find this very useful because I can get multiple wet layers onto my skin as a first step fast – it’s ideal when I need immediate soothing.

As such, it will be suitable for all skin types, although very dry skin might find that it disappears almost immediately, so you might want to follow up with a hydrating toner pronto!

Ingredients

Mixsoon focuses on short, effective ingredient lists that will maximise benefits without a lot of fillers, which reduces the risk of irritation that I mentioned above.

Neither the Cosrx or the Mixsoon has a smell from the centella extract, so if you’re looking for a product with a nice sensorial experience and still soothes, check out the Mary & May Centella Asiatica serum!

Experience

In order to really test this out, for a week, I stopped all of my soothing k-beauty toners plus quite a few other products on my neck – which is often very irritated for no reason. Because I’m not totally reckless, I used one layer of a hydrating (but not soothing) toner and I followed up with my usual serum routine: Beauty of Joseon Calming serum and Axis-Y Artichoke Intensive Skin Barrier Ampoule.

For essences, I only used Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence: I stopped Dr Ceuracle Kombucha essence, which I’d use twice a day otherwise. I seriously cut back on the Mary & May Blackberry cream, too.

Despite dropping some of my key products, my skin did very well! Three layers of the Mixsoon kept my skin really comfortable and avoided irritation. I wouldn’t want to stop all my usual soothing products long term, but I’m impressed with the performance of the Mixsoon.

Whilst the Mixsoon itself isn’t especially hydrating and I seriously cut back on hydrating toners and essences, I’m pleased to report that my skin didn’t become dehydrated. I can see this becoming a staple in my routine going forward!

Final Word

If you need hydration plus some soothing benefits – go for the Cosrx. If you’re more focused on soothing with a little hydration, the Mixsoon will be the best option for you, particularly if you get plenty of hydration in your serum and essence steps!