After learning about and growing to love my oily skin in my late teens, I entered my 20s sure that there was no skin issue I couldn't conquer. I was wrong, because after a few stressful months last year, my skin completely turned on me. Gone was the random, manageable spot I got every now and then, and in its place were three spots that refused to leave my face no matter what I did — almost as if they were paying rent. They never strayed far from each other and often popped back up in the exact same spots month after month.
When Mario Badescu's drying lotion barely made a dent, I started cleansing more, and when that didn't work, I decided to ignore my pimples and focus instead on fading the scars they left, using every scrub, essence, and serum available. None of my efforts worked until I realised I had to take my approach back to the basics, which is when I realised my skincare was missing an essential step: a toner.
Whenever anyone mentioned toning to me in skincare conversations in the past, my eyes would glaze over, and I'd hurriedly direct the conversation to something more interesting, like serums. More fool me, because adding a toner to your skincare routine can offer myriad benefits including balancing your skin's natural pH, tightening pores, deep cleansing, and boosting hydration — all things I needed to beat my breakouts.
After this breakthrough, I sorted my extensive — and sadly ineffective — skincare into eight essentials that focused solely on minimising my breakouts and made Dickinson's Witch Hazel Toner and pure tea tree oil the stars of the show. Witch hazel is a moisturising astringent with deep-cleansing properties, while tea tree oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so they made the perfect combination for cleansing my pores without stripping my skin, preventing any bacteria from embedding itself into my pores and causing more spots.
For the past month or so, my skin routine has been as follows:
- Lush's Fresh Farmacy cleanser as a calming, non-stripping morning cleanser.
- Dickinson's witch hazel toner and a drop of tea tree oil to get rid of any remaining grime and bacteria.
- Indeed Laboratories moisture booster to offset any dryness from the tea tree oil.
- Caudalie's Vino perfect serum to moisturise and perfect my complexion.
- Origins' salicylic acid cleanser for a deep cleanse.
- Dickinson's witch hazel toner and a drop of tea tree oil again for a pre-bed cleanse.
- Hydraluron's moisture jelly for added hydration after a deep clean.
- Omorovicza's acid fix to resurface my skin and give me a radiance boost.
- Unrefined shea butter to keep my skin moisturised throughout the night.
Within a week of my new regimen, I didn't have any spots pop up, which was a welcome surprise after months of battling my skin. After nearly a month of faithfully using a toner twice a day everyday, I can happily say I'm pimple-free. Although I'm still sporting the hyperpigmented scars of breakouts past, my skin is the healthiest it's been in for a long time, and I owe it all to adding one simple skincare step to my routine: toning!