DIY Facial Toner

Today I’m sharing a very simple facial toner recipe you can make at home. Toner is a wonderful addition to your regimen for all skin types, especially oily and combination. It tightens pores, regulates sebum, and breakouts seem to be more under control with daily use. Not only is this recipe simple, with just three ingredients, but you can save a lot of money over store-bought toner that's marked up. I'm also adding an advanced recipe for those sophisticated or adventurous DIYers at the end of this post.

Before we begin, I just want to note that for my last recipe I provided easy volume measurements for the at-home maker. Technically, when you make formulations, they’re done via weights and percentages, with a precise scale instead of by volume. So this time, I’m providing the measurements also in weights, grams which are more precise for small batches like this. Also, whenever you make a product that includes water, you really should include a preservative to prevent bacteria and mold from forming. The first recipe, doesn’t call for one, but the second does. If you make a very small batch and keep it refrigerated, you should be okay. However, if you repeatedly make this recipe or want to make larger quantities to last longer, I strongly suggest you get a scale, accurate to the .0g and a broad-spectrum preservative like Liquid Germall Plus to protect the formula from contamination.

Our recipe consists of just three main ingredients; aloe vera juice, a hydrosol of your choice and witch hazel extract. Hydrosols, also known as plant or flower waters, are a natural byproduct of the steam distillation process that creates most essential oils. They are pricey but are a lovely fragrant addition to a facial toner. We also use them in our hand and body lotions. I use a rose hydrosol but cucumber or calendula would make excellent alternatives. If you don’t have any, you can easily replace it with distilled water or aloe vera juice. I should mention here that waters marketed as “Rose Water” are not actually true hydrosols; they are often just distilled water scented with rose essential oil. Yup you’re being ripped off...grrr

You will also need a bottle to store the toner in. A used apothecary jar with a cap or mister is perfect for this. Just be sure to soak it in antibacterial soap to clean it before use. This recipe makes 100g, approximately 3.5 oz of toner.

In the below recipe, I have provided links to vendors that I currently use to help you in learning about and sourcing these ingredients. You are under no obligation to use them and I am not earning any commissions from them.


33g | 33 ml | 2.5 TB | 33% — Aloe Vera Juice
33g | 33 ml | 2.5 TB | 33% — Hydrosol of your choice (I use Rose Hydrosol)
34g | 34 ml | 2.5 TB | 34% — Witch Hazel Extract


Mix all ingredients together and pour into the container. After washing your face, either mist the toner on with a sprayer or soak a cotton round with it and and swipe across your face and neck. Follow up with your serum and moisturizer. Depending on your skin type, you can use it once a day or morning and night. Store in a cool and dry location out of the sunlight. For best results, make very small quantities and keep it refrigerated.


You can modify this recipe to make it less astringent for dry skin by decreasing the percentage of witch hazel or eliminating it entirely. If you do so, you can replace the same percentage with distilled water. For example, eliminating the witch hazel 34% (34g) would result in adding in 34% (34g) of distilled water. The idea with these formulations is to have all your ingredients add up to 100%. Does it have to be distilled water? The answer is yes. The reason is that tap water and even spring water have a lot of contaminants that can spoil your product.

Side Note

I would resist the urge to add an essential oil to a water-based toner. because well, water and oil don’t mix unless you have an emulsifier in there to combine the two. Without an emulsifier, the oil will float to the top of the bottle, potentially resulting in a large amount being dispersed when you use it. The issue with this is that essential oils are very potent and are meant to be used in extremely small percentages, usually less than 0.5% in facial formulas, and you can end up having a concentrated amount that will irritate your face. Adding an emulsifier is possible, but it’s slightly more advanced, requiring the use of weights and percentages to produce the formula. I also find that the emulsifiers leave a tacky feeling on my skin that I don’t particularly like, so to get that lovely fragrance I prefer instead to use a hydrosol.


For those sophisticated or adventurous DIYers, you can add some wonderful ingredients to your toners such as niacinamide (vitamin B3), dl-panthenol (vitamin B6), and propanediol. Propanediol is a humectant, naturally-derived from corn sugar, that increases skin hydration by drawing moisture to the skin. I prefer propanediol over glycerin as the former doesn’t leave a tacky feeling on the skin. This formula also incorporates a broad-spectrum preservative, Liquid Germall Plus at 0.5%, which I highly recommend.

This toner is suitable for all skin types; even oily skin! I used to use a more astringent toner but for the past few months, I have been using the below formula with incredible results. My skin is softer, less oily with a more well-balanced skin tone.

For this recipe you will need the following equipment: A scale accurate to the 0.1g, a thermometer, a double boiler or equivalent setup, a glass pyrex measuring cup or beaker capable of withstanding temperatures up to 93˚C/200˚F, weight boats or equivalent for measuring out powder ingredients, and a glass or plastic container with a spay top or cap.


Phase A

33.5g (33.5%) Aloe Vera Juice/Gel
30g (30%) Witch Hazel Extract
30g (30%) Hydrosol of your choice (I use Rose Hydrosol)
2.0g (2.0%) Propanediol 1,3 or Vegetable Glycerin

Phase B

2.0g (2.0%) Niacinamide powder (Vitamin B3)
2.0g (2.0%) dl-Panthenol powder (Vitamin B5)
0.5g (0.5%) Liquid Germall Plus


This recipe can be combined either cold and left to hydrate overnight for 4–6 hours, or heated to dissolve the powdered ingredients.

Cold Process Method
  1. Weigh out the Phase A ingredients into the glass pyrex measuring cup or beaker.
  2. Weigh out the Phase B, except the preservative, into weigh boats or containers.
  3. Add the powdered niacinamide and dl-panthenol one at a time, slowly while stirring to combine.
  4. Place the entire measuring cup on the scale and tare, add the preservative one drop at a time, and stir to combine.
  5. Cover the glass container with cling wrap and let hydrate for 4–6 hours to dissolve the powders. It might not take that long; it really depends on your climate and altitude.
  6. Once dissolved, give it a final good stir and then pour into the bottle.
Heated Method
  1. Weigh out the Phase A ingredients into the glass pyrex measuring cup or beaker.
  2. Weigh out the Phase B, except the preservative, into weigh boats or containers.
  3. Fill a low saucepan with 1” of water. Place the glass pyrex in the saucepan and heat until the temperature reads 70˚C/158˚F. Turn the burner off, cover the pyrex with cling wrap and hold for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the glass pyrex from the saucepan take off the cling wrap.
  5. Add the powdered niacinamide and dl-panthenol one at a time, slowly while stirring to combine.
  6. Let the mixture cool to 45˚C/113˚F. You may use an ice water bath to speed this part up or refrigerate the mixture for 15–30 minutes.
  7. Place the entire measuring cup on the scale and tare, add the preservative one drop at a time, and stir to combine.
  8. Allow it to cool further to room temperature before pouring into its final container.

We hope you enjoy the toner as much as we do. Leave us a message and tell us how it went.

Happy DIYing!!

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