What are witch hazel toners?
Witch hazel toners are a popular skincare product used to cleanse skin and tighten pores. Witch hazel can help treat acne-prone skin and breakouts, and it has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Many alcohol-based astringent toners contain witch hazel, which combined with its clinical scent earned it a reputation for being harsh on sensitive skin.
But it's now possible to get alcohol-free toners filled with witch hazel and other natural remedies like aloe vera and rose water that can be a positive addition to skincare routines and help gently dry oily skin.
Part of witch hazel's popularity as a toner is down to it often being an affordable option. Bottles of basic witch hazel start from around $7 for around 250ml. Although many of the best toners include more ingredients.
Where does witch hazel come from?
Witch hazel comes from a type of plant native to North America, China and Japan. Historically, Native Americans used its leaves and barks to make witch hazel water, which is still sold today.
The water was used to cool and cleanse skin and early European settlers soon picked up on its therapeutic properties.
These days its benefits include treating oily skin and combination skin as well as skin prone to acne or breakouts. It can also reduce the appearance of large and open pores while it tackles excess oil.
It's often combined with other natural products, such as Australian tea tree oil, rose petal water and soothing aloe vera - which loves sensitive skin.
How should witch hazel toner be used?
After using a cleanser, witch hazel toner should be applied to dry skin using a cotton pad or cotton ball.
Once it's dried, a hydrating moisturiser, lotion or serum should be applied.
It's best used on oily skin or combination skin as one side effect of witch hazel can be that it dries out skin if overused.
That's why it should be used with a moisturiser to hydrate freshly cleansed and tightened pores. In fact, the witch hazel can help prepare skin to best absorb the moisture from your fave creams and lotions.
Given it's drying properties, it's best not to use witch hazel daily. Instead, treat your face a few times a week to help beat oily skin and acne breakouts.
As well as being found in toners, you can find witch hazel in beauty products such as face masks and cleansers.
What are the best toners?
With many products using Mother Nature's very own toner, it can be hard to know which to choose. That's why we've come up with this list of the best witch hazel toners in Australia.
12. T. N. Dickinson's All Natural Witch Hazel
Dickinson's have been supplying skincare fans with witch hazel for more than 150 years.
This simple toner contains 14 per cent alcohol and is double distilled for purity.
Australian Priceline reviewers gave this toner a four star-rating out of five.
Some found they broke out following use, but others say it's a cheap yet effective beauty essential.
"I love using this toner after the shower. My face feels nice, clean and tight after using it. I wait about 1 hour before applying moisturiser," explains one.
$6.95 for 240ml from Priceline
11. Humphrey's Witch Hazel Astringent
Another simple witch hazel toner with a long history, Humprey's has been used to cleanse and soothe since 1854.
Its makers claim it's suitable for sensitive skin, and it can balance skin's natural moisture and reduce the appearance of large pores.
All natural, it contains witch hazel and 14 per cent alcohol and it comes in a cute retro bottle.
"Have been using this product for 50+ years, so I can assure you it is wonderful. It is great for oily skin and enlarged pores," says one happy iHerb customer.
Others found the alcohol drying, so if you have dry skin perhaps consider one of the gentler options on our list.
$5.68 for 237ml from iHerb
10. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
Not strictly a toner, this witch hazel based product from The Ordinary nonetheless deserves a spot on the list.
Containing salicylic acid and witch hazel this product treats acne-prone skin using the power of witch hazel and other ingredients. And it's alcohol-free, cruelty-free and vegan.
After patch testing, its recommended to use this morning and night directly on individual spots or a small amount over the face.
Reviewers claim it has worked wonders for their skin. "I have tried both expensive and inexpensive products. But this actually works!!! I used to have a lot of acne around my neck, chin and cheeks, usually 1-3 new zits every day...I get a zit once every two weeks now," says one enthused fan.
$9.30 for 30ml from The Ordinary
9. Garnier Sensitive Anti-Blemish Gentle Toner
With with hazel and salicylic acid, this gel toner is designed to soothe skin and reduce pimples.
It has a ph-neutral formula designed to be gentle on skin, and its claimed pores are less visible for 78% of women who use it for four weeks.
This toner has earned a three out of five star rating by Australian BEAUTYcrew raters, with its gel consistency seemingly dividing reviewers.
One says, "The gel is not what I am used to in a toner and was a little sticky, but after a while my skin felt really hydrated and smooth. This toner also minimised my pores which is a bonus and it actually dried really quickly so you can see results fast."
While another says, "I liked the idea of a gel toner, but in terms of application I found that it left a film over my skin. I battled to find the right amount to use to remedy this issue, and resigned to it being perhaps due to the consistency of the product."
$5.95 for 200ml from Cosmetic Capital
8. Leonardi Laboratories Witch Hazel 100% Organic Natural Astringent
This alcohol-free product is simply distilled witch hazel with no other ingredients. And best of all, it's organic.
If you have oily skin this is a cost-effective and natural solution when used as a toner to cleanse pores and remove excess oil.
It can also be used as a natural remedy to help heal bites, blisters and other skin ailments.
One reviewer recommends it for acne. "I know this product helped by the way my skin felt at the time of application and how it looked in the morning," they wrote.
For sensitive skin, do a patch test before applying to the whole face to check it isn't too strong.
$6.95 for 100ml from Leonardi Laboratories
7. Aesop In Two Minds Facial Toner
This mildly astringent toner aims to cleanse, sooth and balance combination skin.
It contains witch hazel, niacinamide (vitamin B3), chamomile bud, rosemary leaf oild, lavender oil and sage oil.
It's one of the more expensive toners on our list, but the Adore Beauty reviews are rave. "This toner is great for combination skin. It balances the sebum without over drying the skin. Great," says one.
"A lovely toner, especially good to use in the morning as it will help keep your skin matte during the day," says another fan.
However others note it can dry skin if not used with a lotion or moisturiser.
To hydrate the skin, pair with In Two Minds Facial Hydrator which also includes witch hazel.
$37 for 100ml from Aesop
6. Kiehl's Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion
A cult skincare product since the 1960s, this lotion toner contains witch hazel among other natural ingredients to cleanse and soothe oily skin.
Camphor cools the skin and is good for balancing oily skin, menthol gives skin a breath of fresh air and sodium PCA to hydrate and bind moisture.
BEAUTYcrew reviewers agree its good for freshening up faces. One says, "A lovely toner if you have blemish prone skin, have pimples, oily skin or open pores. I use this at various times...when I have a nasty flare up of pimples, or my skin looks dull and needs a good cleaning."
This toner is also popular with guys as a soothing sensitive skin after shaving.
$33 for 250ml from Kiehl's
5. Mario Badescu Witch Hazel and Rosewater Toner
This toner is designed to remove impurities without being so astringent that it strips the skin.
A long with witch hazel, it contains aloe vera, rosewater and rose oil to soothe and hydrate and make it suitable for different skin types.
Australian Mecca customers have heaps of praise for this product as part of their skincare regime, giving it a 4.7 star rating.
"I bought this over two months ago and it has worked wonders! It not only keeps my skin really clean but also feels amazing it helps clear any kind of little red pop-ups that occur too!" raves one.
"Can honestly say that this will not be moving far from my daily routine!" says another.
$21 for 295ml from Mecca
4. Neal's Yard Purifying Palmarosa Toner
This gently astringent witch hazel toner is designed to cleanse oily skin and combination skin while refining and decongesting pores.
As well as witch hazel it includes natural ingredients like willowherb, aloe vera, frankincense, tea tree, coriander and the palmarosa herb its named after.
The result is a pore minimising, oil balancing refreshing toner with essential oils that are 95 per cent organic.
One fan said it had helped with her oily skin. "This toner is perfect, it’s just enough to cleanse my oily skin but doesn’t dry it out. I use the Palmarosa face wash first then tone morning and night."
It's recommended to give the bottle a good shake before use to get the most from all that natural goodness.
$34.95 for 200ml from Neal's Yard
3. Biome 100% Pure Witch Hazel Organic
This bottle contains just one ingredient - you've guess it, witch hazel.
It's recommended to apply this organic beauty product to acne-prone skin several times a time to allow it to soothe and cleanse.
Th glass bottle is reusable to reduce plastic waste.
One reviewer found it doubled up as a toner and a shaving rash salve. "Great for my acne-prone skin. Great for applying after shaving and reduces shave rash by 99%, if not completely. Love that it comes in a glass bottle," she wrote.
It's a high quality organic product and its purity is reflected in the price.
$29.95 for 100ml from Biome
2. Quinn's Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel
As well as coming in a bottle that looks gorgeous on the bathroom shelf, this product, created by Australian Katrina Allen, has celebrity fans including Khloe Kardashian who uses the rose water variety.
It's designed to leave skin feeling soft while thoroughly cleansing pores without a greasy residue. With 100% natural and organic witch hazel and aloe vera, its designed to be used once or twice a day. It also contains grapefruit seed extract and is paraben free.
Amazon reviewers say it's a vital addition to their skincare routine.
"After using this just over a week with a basic blackhead scrub before and moisturizing with Olay Regenerist facial moisturizer for combination/oily skin, I can actually compare it to my younger sisters flawless and much more pampered skin," says one.
US$13.95 for 470ml from Amazon
1. Thayer's Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Toner
Thayer's Witch Hazel is the most popular witch hazel toner on the market. At just over $15 a bottle, it doesn't break the bank and has thousands of beauty fans singing its praises in online reviews.
Dating back to the 1800s, the product contains purified water, organic witch hazel, aloe vera, glycerin, citric acid, and grapefruit seed extract.
Plus it's alcohol free and doesn't contain parabens or phthalate. And its witch hazel is grown on a family farm.
The product also has variations including ones with added rose petal, lavender and cucumber. The rose petal variety seems especially popular, earning a 4.4 out of five star-rating on iHerb from more than 10,000 reviews.
"This toner is the best toner I have ever used," one fan writes. "It has a cool refreshing feeling when applies to the face and, most importantly, it truly does tone and shrink pores. In addition to this, it also cleans out blackheads and gives your skin a soft feel, as well as a healthy glow."
It's rose water scent is just one more reason why this top toner is number one on our list of the best witch hazel toners.
$15.24 for 355ml from iHerb