top of page

Toning & Exfoliating Truths.


Toning and exfoliating has been long advocated as an essential part of an ongoing skincare routine. Since their refined development in the 1990’s their acclaimed benefits and compositions have come a long way. But are these two products really essential for maintaining healthy skin or, do they just contribute to the ever-expanding production of unnecessary goods?

The Toner

I fondly remember carrying a toner in my backpack in the late 1990’s during my high school years in Malta. I can still remember its strong citrus scent and its refreshing relief on those long hot summer days while trapped in a stuffy, overheated classroom.

Back then they were promoted for their astringent properties, claimed to remove access oil and were especially targeted for troublesome skin. The high alcohol content was soon seen to have very drying and damaging effects, and the stripping of natural oils from the skin was more widely known to exacerbate breakouts.

Following this and up until recently, the selling point for a toner was to restore the pH balance or remove access dirt left on the skin after cleansing. This need is now debunked with the increase of pH balanced, advanced cleansing formulas.

Today’s toner marketing campaign might include words such as ‘increased hydration’ or ‘chemical exfoliation’. I’ll touch on exfoliation below, but in terms of hydration benefits, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure you’ll be getting your bang for your buck. If hydration is what you are after, think about:

· ditching harsh cleansers

· increasing the fatty acids in your diet

· getting some good sleep and;

· drinking plenty of water

Store bought toners generally have high water-based ingredients and are therefore packed with preservatives so, if you are keen on the occasional spritz for refreshment (perhaps the only real reason for a toner), I would recommend making small amounts of your own and storing it in the fridge.

The Exfoliator

Exfoliating has been proven to remove dead skin cells, boost circulation, unclog pores and smooth skin tone and texture. So, why don’t we manufacture one? Because we believe many of these benefit claims can and should come from step 1 of your skincare routine

- cleansing.

Removing dead skin cells: The deep penetration of facial treatments and moisturisers are reliant on the removal of dead skin cells. Without this process the active ingredients cling to the dead cells and sit on the skins surface rather than absorbing into your pores. This practice can also often smooth skin texture and even out dry patches.

Truth is, we don’t actually need a product to remove dead skin cells. ‘The act of cleansing or drying your skin is enough’. Contradictory to what was recorded in the text book, my highly regarded lecturer whispered these exact words to our class 20 years ago. A gentle drying towel movement over a wet face or, soft cloth or cotton pads used in your oil cleansing routine is enough to remove those barrier cells.

Boost circulation: The friction, movement and pressure in your daily skincare application rituals boosts circulation, increasing blood flow and therefor cell rejuvenation, improving skin tone and collagen production. Taking the time to gently massage in your nutritious cleanser has the same stimulating results as an exfoliator but without the aggravation.

Now, I know its super satisfying to hop into the shower and scrub away the daily grime, especially if you have oily, acne prone or troublesome skin – I’ve been there and I get it, it feels good. But for these skin types in particular, over stimulation should really be avoided. Boosting circulation is likely to cause flare ups and in these instances, as with sensitive skin, the less touching, the better.

Unclogs Pores:Exfoliating removes dirt and debris from the pores”.... Hmmmm. Again, this is the purpose of cleansing. Double cleansing with a good, pH balanced cleanser is especially recommended if you often struggle with left over residue.

So, to answer the frequently asked question ‘Will Harlo likely be manufacturing toners or exfoliators in the future?’ The answer is no. We pride ourselves in providing a modest, ethical, and needful collection of high performing products. Multifunctional, considered care which exempts those unnecessary for the pocket, or the planet. You can now find out more about our ecological ethics and specially selected ingredients on our new glossary and shop pages.

The act of a botanical skincare ritual provides a shot opportunity for us to connect exclusively with natures nutrients, to touch with intention, gratitude and hopefully just a little self love.

Till next time –



bottom of page