Pros: Gentle yet effective toner at an affordable price
Cons: Low on glamour
With its Alcohol-Free Toner, Neutrogena has once again delivered a quality product at an excellent price. Whether you're used to shopping for face care products at department store cosmetic counters, in the Health and Beauty Aid aisles of your local grocery store or drug store, or online, this product is well equipped to meet or beat its competition. Designed for most skin types, it provides an effective alternative to the alcohol-laden astringents and toners that abound in the face care section of any store or website.
Although the company that eventually became Neutrogena was originally founded in 1930, Neutrogena did not become a household name until the sixties with the introduction of the well-known amber colored bar of glycerin soap. Since then, the company has used its strong ties in the medical and dermatological communities to produce consistently high quality, yet simple and affordable treatments for the face, body, and hair. Owned by Johnson and Johnson since 1994, Neutrogena continues to be an innovative and dominant force in the personal care products field, recently introducing its own line of cosmetics to critical and popular acclaim.
Packaging and Appearance:
Not unlike the rest of the Neutrogena line, the packaging of Alcohol-Free Toner is simple and utilitarian, not to mention completely portable. Topped with a sturdy white cap with a flip-top lid, the 7-plus-inch bottle is a lovely shade of sky blue, upon which is featured white copy with black and medium blue accents. The bottle I have in front of me has been living on my vanity for several months, so it's not completely surprising that the plastic label is just starting to peel off the bottle -- probably a result of the constant humidity in my bathroom.
The toner itself is clear and has the consistency of very soft water. The fragrance, though not specified in the ingredients list, is definitely floral, very delicate, and quite pleasant in my opinion. I think I detect a note of rose, but I wouldn't want to stake my life on it. Think soft, gentle, delicate, specially formulated water for your face, and you've got the picture. Though the packaging reveals its mass-market roots, the product itself could be in a bottle from Lancome or any other high-end brand, it is of high enough quality.
Product Claims and Effectiveness:
~Refreshes skin without stripping away its natural moisturizers: Absolutely. One of the wonderful features of this product is its ability to refresh and soothe even the driest and flakiest skin. Although my own skin is combination, upon occasion I sometimes apply my benzoyl peroxide acne medication a little too zealously and am left with dry, flaky patches of skin on top of irritated, sensitive, and still healing blemishes underneath. At times like these, Alcohol-Free Toner is a lifesaver, allowing me to gently tone and refresh without doing further damage.
~Special mild purifiers gently remove impurities and re-condition skin: After cleansing with the soap or cleanser appropriate for your skin, it's still important to take that next step and tone with the proper product. Ideally, a toner removes the last traces of makeup, oil, cleanser, and daily grime, leaving your skin feeling refreshed and your pores refined. Although I don't notice as much discoloration on the cotton square (from makeup and other impurities) after using Alcohol-Free Toner as I do when using Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 (which does contain alcohol), I do notice a difference in the cleanliness level and condition of my skin in comparison with using no toner at all.
~Skin feels fresh and clean without tightness, dryness: 100% truth. The gentle feel, combined with the delicate, pleasant scent, of the product definitely results in your skin feeling refreshed and renewed without being stripped of essential moisturization. Of course, Alcohol-Free Toner does not replace your usual moisturizer, so be sure to follow toning with a lotion or cream appropriate for your skin type.
Neutrogena specifies the following:
Moisten cotton ball with Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner. Apply to face with gentle upward strokes.
I actually use a cotton square pad rather than a cotton ball as I like the fact that the liquid is spread out over a larger surface with a square rather than absorbed into a mostly unusable piece of cotton with a ball. Very little of the product is required for an application, and the flip-top dispenses the right amount with ease. I apply toner twice a day, morning and evening, after cleansing and before moisturizing, except in infrequent circumstances when I want a midday touch-up or cleansing boost.
I have two minor quibbles. First, as one who is completely seduced by the elegant and sometimes clever, high quality packaging of some higher end lines, I find Neutrogena's plain blue bottle, lovely as it is, a little mundane. Functional, yes. Aesthetically pleasing and life-enhancing, no.
Second, as my skin is combination, I still keep a bottle of toner with alcohol on hand for those days when my skin needs some extra help in the cleansing and exfoliating process. (My choice: Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2.) Sure, I could probably get by with just the Neutrogena, but sometimes that feeling of a really thorough, deep-down, alcohol-filled toning is just irresistible.
Although Neutrogena does have a website (www.neutrogena.com), Alcohol-Free Toner and the rest of the Neutrogena product line cannot be purchased directly from the site. (Currently, there is a special offer featuring a set of Neutrogena products specially formulated for acne-prone skin, but there's no evidence on the site that the full line will be available in the future.)
However, Alcohol-Free Toner is available at other online venues, such as drugstore.com ($5.49) and cvs.com ($6.99). And of course, the product is widely available in traditional grocery and drug stores.
Purified Water, PEG-4, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Ceteth-24, Choleth-24, Panthenol, Glyereth-26, Sodium PCA, Benzalkonium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Chloride, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance.