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15 Alcohol-Free Toners That Nourish and Balance-and Never Strip-Your Skin

These gentle formulas are safe for sensitive complexions.
By Rebecca Norris
June 08, 2021
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Just because something is common doesn't necessarily mean that it's right and good. Case in point? Alcohol in skin care-and, more specifically, toners. While this ingredient is heavily regarded for its drying abilities (which many people want to believe is beneficial for oily, acne-prone skin types, especially when formulated into this product type), the reality is that it has simply not studied widely enough. In fact, a 2008 dermatological review found that there is so much conflicting evidence between studies on topical alcohol application that they determined the "necessity of its use should be critically evaluated."

If you'd rather avoid it until more research can be done, you're in luck-there are plenty of alcohol-free toners on the market. Ahead, 15 formulas that nourish and balance the skin without ever stripping it.

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Thayers Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Coconut Water Toner
Credit: Courtesy of Target

Thayers

Made with coconut water, witch hazel, and aloe vera, this top-rated toner works to balance oil production while moisturizing and soothing sensitive, acne-prone skin.

Shop Now: Thayers Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Coconut Water Toner, $10.49, target.com.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA +BHA Pore-Tight Toner
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

Glow Recipe

This cult-favorite melon-scented toner is made with gentle exfoliating acids, antioxidant-rich cactus water, and hydrating watermelon extract to gently buff away dead skin cells and impart optimal dewiness.

Shop Now: Glow Recipe "Watermelon Glow" PHA +BHA Pore-Tight Toner, $34, sephora.com.

Humphreys Recharge Witch Hazel with Grapefruit Alcohol-Free Toner
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Humphreys

Witch hazel, tea tree oil, and grapefruit extract work together in this formula to balance oil production and banish breakouts.

Shop Now: Humphreys "Recharge" Witch Hazel with Grapefruit Alcohol-Free Toner, $10.99, target.com.

Fresh Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Deep Hydration Toner
Credit: Courtesy of Nordstrom

Fresh

Looking for a super-soothing toner? This rosewater iteration from Fresh fits the bill. It's designed to nourish your complexion while hydrating and plumping.

Shop Now: Fresh Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Deep Hydration Toner, $45, nordstrom.com.

Biossance Squalane + BHA Pore-Minimizing Toner
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Biossance

Made with BHA-rich willow bark extract, this liquid works to balance oil production, prevent breakouts, and tighten pores-all in a single swipe.

Shop Now: Biossance Squalane + BHA Pore-Minimizing Toner, $28, sephora.com.

Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner
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Neutrogena

This hypoallergenic drugstore buy is beloved for its oil-free formula, which helps to hydrate and bring the skin to equilibrium without making it look greasy in the process.

Shop Now: Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner, $6.29, target.com.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner
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First Aid Beauty

Safe for even the most sensitive visages, this oatmeal-infused toner helps ease irritation and hydrate dry dermis, lending to a healthier-looking complexion after each use.

Shop Now: First Aid Beauty "Ultra Repair" Wild Oat Hydrating Toner, $22, nordstrom.com.

Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner with Moringa + Papaya
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Farmacy

People with oily, acne-prone skin will love this gentle BHA toner. Formulated with two-percent salicylic acid, it works to rid the skin of built-up makeup, dirt, and impurities, eliminating future breakouts as a result.

Shop Now: Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner with Moringa + Papaya, $28, sephora.com.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

The Ordinary

If you're uncertain whether or not your skin can handle BHAs (which are typically more aggressive than AHAs), reach for this glycolic acid-infused toner instead. Combined with amino acids and aloe vera, the AHA-infused toner addresses dullness and uneven texture in the most gentle way possible.

Shop Now: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, $8.70, ulta.com.

Caudalie Vinoclean Moisturizing Toner with Rose Water
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Caudalie

Formulated with toning rosewater and strengthening vinolevure (an ingredient extracted from yeast that's said to help promote clarity and balance), this toner lends to a healthier-looking complexion all around.

Shop Now: Caudalie "Vinoclean" Moisturizing Toner with Rose Water, $28, sephora.com.

Burt's Bees Sensitive Toner with Aloe & Witch Hazel
Credit: Courtesy of Target

Burt's Bees

With aloe at the forefront, this sensitive skin-friendly formula works to ward off irritation and usher in a dewy, hydrated, healthy-looking complexion.

Shop Now: Burt's Bees Sensitive Toner with Aloe & Witch Hazel, $8.99, target.com.

Kiehl's Since 1851 Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol Free Toner
Credit: Courtesy of Sephora

Kiehl's Since 1851

Soothing calendula extract is the hero of this Sephora best-seller. And when you consider the fact that over 30,000 shoppers have given the nourishing toner their seal of approval, it's definitely worth trying.

Shop Now: Kiehl's Since 1851 Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol Free Toner, $40, sephora.com.

Acaderma Equilibria Stabilizing Toner
Credit: Courtesy of Acaderma

Acaderma

Powered by prebiotics and hyaluronic acid, this toner addresses everything from skin texture to tone. It helps to deeply hydrate skin while reducing redness and soothing irritation. The result? Bouncy, radiant-looking skin after each use.

Shop Now: Acaderma "Equilibria" Stabilizing Toner, $30, acaderma.com.

Three Ships Awake Rose Hydrosol Toner
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Three Ships Beauty

Witch hazel and rosewater are the workhorses in this refreshing spray toner. Paired with glycerin, the ingredients work to calm, tone, and hydrate the skin with each spritz.

Shop Now: Three Ships "Awake" Rose Hydrosol Toner, $19, threeshipsbeauty.com.

Merle Norman Skintelligent Toner
Credit: Courtesy of Merle Norman

Merle Norman

Made with probiotics, this toner works to address skin texture concerns by shielding it against environmental stressors. Where glycolic acid gently exfoliates the skin, aloe, cucumber, and oat soothe and hydrate it.

Shop Now: Merle Norman "Skintelligent" Toner, $26, merlenorman.com.