Judging CertClean’s Clean Beauty Awards

Green/Holistic | Skin Care

Judging CertClean’s Clean Beauty Awards


Green/Holistic, Skin Care /

The Best of CertClean’s Green Beauty Toners and Mists

Wow, it’s such an honour to be a 2019 judge in CertClean’s Clean Beauty Awards! The category that I will be judging is a whopper: Green Beauty Toners. When it comes to toners, I’ll admit I easily get overwhelmed because there’s just so much variety. And the toner lineup that I’m judging is no exception to this. Each of these toners has its own unique formula and intended use.

I’ll open by saying it was impossible to narrow down a single favourite. I had multiple favourites for different purposes. Some toners were meant to add plumpness, others were formulated to clean out the pores, and many fell somewhere in between. So, to make things a little simpler, I’ve divided the CertClean Clean Beauty Toner applicants into 3 categories: Nourishing, Clarifying, and Brightening.

Now, on to the toners and mists!

Who is CertClean and What Are the Clean Beauty Awards?

CertClean and PurPicks partner together annually to spread the word about top-notch green beauty products from around the world. The Clean Beauty Awards celebrate beauty brands providing safer, cleaner alternatives to conventional products. All brands featured in the Clean Beauty Awards must comply with the CertClean Standards, so you can rest assured that their formulas are non-toxic and feature lots of natural ingredients.

Psst: If you haven’t visited CertClean reviews or the PurPicks catalog yet, they are both great resources to discover new clean beauty brands!


Nourishing Mists

The standout products in this category were the Group Eleven Active Mist by Vanessa Megan Advanced Organics and The Time is Running Out Mist by Sioris. Not only did both of these work as advertised, but they look lovely sitting on my vanity. The Hydrating Geranium Mist was also super effective. All three of these formulas are perfect for drenching the skin in hydration and while adding skin-plumping ingredients.

All Nourishing, natural beauty mists, in order of personal preference:

  • 10/10 Vanessa Megan Advanced Organics – Group Eleven Active Mist Review
    This mist was the most effective at reversing damage while hydrating and plumping my skin. After some accidental sun exposure (with no sunscreen!), a visible line/wrinkle had formed across my forehead. This product immediately helped re-plump and hydrate the damaged skin. The unique formulation of the Group Eleven Active Mist is worth noting. It contains a precious blend of Colloidal Silver, Colloidal Copper, Hyaluronic Acid, Colloidal Gold, Sandlewood Hydrosol and fruit extracts. I enjoy the subtle scent and luxurious packaging! This mist seamlessly absorbed into my skin, but still managed to leave it plush and supple-looking. There was zero film residue on my skin, which is what I prefer when using facial mists for daytime use.
  • 9/10 Sioris – Time is Running Out Mist Review
    I love, love, love spritzing this all over my face, neck, and shoulders immediately after stepping out of the shower. This product has a rich layer of oil on top, and you need to shake it vigorously before spraying. The texture is comparable to a slippery serum and is great for facial massage. (Use a Gua Sha stone for advanced lymphatic drainage that will leave you looking younger.) My skin looks youthful and feels hydrated after using this. It does leave a damp/oily look on the skin, so those who like the ‘dewy skin’ look will adore this product. (Note: this is a Korean brand, and the box came with an English translation sticker applied. Otherwise, I would have been at a loss!)
  • 8/10 Immersion Botanica – Hydrating Geranium Mist Review
    This mist was effective and felt like a liquid serum. I really enjoyed that the formula contains many active botanicals, which blend together to create a unique (albeit, somewhat strong), perfume-like scent. I preferred to use this mist at night, due to the shiny film it left on my face. Regardless, it’s a wonderful, effective, and natural formula at a great price.
  • 8/10 Be genki – Radiant Corrective Beauty Toner Review
    A nice face mist that adds subtle hydration to the skin. However, the effects of this formula aren’t as present as my “top 3” picks in this category. I do wish they would print the ingredient list on the packaging.
  • 7/10 Dianne Caine Australia – Hydro-Boost Mist Review
    This is a basic, easy to use mist that refreshes the skin. I did not notice a big difference in my skin after use, but it does feel nice and does not leave any filmy residue behind. For those who do not like heavy scents, or just want a mid-day pick-me-up, this gentle mist is for you.

Skin Brightening Toners

I did not have any experience with brightening toners prior to this, as I didn’t understand the point of them. And I have to admit, I’ve been converted! The PHA First Toner was shockingly wonderful, and the results speak for themselves.

Most of the toners in this category suggest using a cotton pad to apply. To avoid excess waste, I grabbed a reusable cotton round and got to swiping. (I like these organic cotton and hemp rounds by Oko Creations or the square version that incorporates recycled polyester.) Seeing any excess residue that my facial cleaner missed collected on the cotton rounds was extremely satisfying. I highly recommend the cotton round method to anyone who suffers from persistent acne or congested pores; try it!

All Skin Brightening, green beauty toners, in order of personal preference:

  • 10/10 isoi – PHA First Toner Review
    My skepticism immediately vanished after a single swipe of this mildly exfoliating, fruit-acid-based toner. It feels refreshing and cleaning on the skin, yet somehow doesn’t leave it feeling stripped in any way. (Is it sorcery?) My complexion appears brighter and I seem to have fewer clogged pores and breakouts when used as the final step in my night-time cleansing routine. The brown sunspot in the centre of my face also became slightly faded after several uses of the PHA First Toner. (Note: this is a Korean brand, and the box came with an English translation sticker applied. Otherwise, I would have been at a loss!)
  • 8/10 Kaelen Harwell – Brightening Strawberry Citrus Toner Review
    This brightening toner has a subtle, natural strawberry scent mixed with other fruit acids and botanical ingredients. I’m a fan of the ingredient list! I did notice a slight brightening effect after using this toner, and it did not dry out my skin. The scent can be a little strong at first, and it took me a few tries to get used to it. Now I like it quite a bit!
  • 3/10 Eco by Sonya Driver – Skin Compost Super Fruit Toner Review
    I wanted to love this toner, but I couldn’t get past the strong fermented pineapple scent. It also felt very sticky on my skin, and I ended up washing my face after applying it. I’m wondering if I received a bad batch?

Clarifying Toners

This is a tricky category of toners because many anti-acne/pore cleaning products can be drying. I was pleasantly surprised by how effective the Aromatica and Kaelen Harwell toners were. But they also didn’t leave my skin tight or parched feeling. Both of these would be ideal for those struggling with surface-level breakouts, blackheads, and clogged pores.

All Clarifying, clean beauty toners, in order of personal preference:

  • 10/10 Aromatica – Tea Tree Balancing Toner Review
    I experience fewer breakouts around my jawline and hairline when I was testing this toner, which was a big plus for me. I apply it with the same reusable cotton round mentioned above, which probably assisted in removing whatever my regular cleanser left behind. My skin looks bright and squeaky clean each time I use this toner. The formula is clean, refreshing, and non-drying. It also has a pleasant, delicate fresh scent–surprising given that it contains tea tree oil! usually, I find tea tree quite overpowering. Overall, this clarifying toner is a pleasure to work with.
  • 9/10 Kaelen Harwell – Invigorating Peppermint Toner Review
    This toner lives up to its name! It is certainly invigorating and an immediate pick-me-up for the skin. This formula was more on the astringent side, due to the White Willow bark extract (a favourite of mine when battling acne.) My skin feels sparkling clean, cool, and refreshed after I use this toner. Any active pimples were reduced in both size and colour, after just an hour. The scent is quite intense when you first encounter it, but worth it due to how effective it is against acne.
  • 5/10 Birch Babe – Facial Toner Review
    Interestingly, this formula contains apple cider vinegar, which I’ve heard can help clear acne and keep bacteria at bay. After a few uses, I can’t say I noticed much difference in my skin’s complexion or clarity. The apple cider vinegar scent was too overpowering for me. But for those who like to incorporate ACV into their beauty routine, this toner is for you!

Final Thoughts

While I have used hydrating mists in the past, I can say I’m officially converted to the benefits of clarifying and brightening toners. What started out as a mild curiosity has turned into a full-blown “how did I not use these before??” ah-ha moment for me. Having the opportunity to test different types of toners has been a real game-changer for me. I hope that sharing my experience with these various toners and mists will encourage you to try out a few that suit your unique skincare needs!

Even after the judging period ended, I’m still using some of the hydrating toners in the mornings, before my serums and moisturizers. And on days where I’ve worn makeup, I still use the cotton-round with a clarifying or brightening toner as a final cleansing step.

How do you feel about toners and facial mists? Do you incorporate them into your skincare routine?

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