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toners and serums for your skin type

June 6, 2019

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to have pretty oily skin. I remember carrying around oil blotting sheets with me everywhere in middle and high school as well as college.

But since switching to natural products, my skin has completely changed. I’ve got dry skin now.

Switching my skincare from an oily skin centered routine to one that caters to my dry skin has meant a lot of research on my part, and trial and error.

Here are a few things I’ve come to find out along the way. If you’re looking for a diy skincare routine that is better for your wallet, your skin and the environment… keep on reading!

Here is a general skincare route: pre-cleanse, cleanse, tone, serum, and then moisturize.


An important note: Every BODY is different. The way my skin reacts to lavender and aloe vera gel may not be the same way your skin does. It’s important to do patch tests on your skin before going all in with anything skincare related! When in doubt — dilute. I’m also not a certified skin therapist. So please take what I have to say with that in mind. I do my research and review things based off other people’s reviews and trial/error of my own.

If you have a serious skin condition, like psoriasis, eczema, severe acne or allergies… please speak to a dermatologist. Although the majority of the items I’m talking about are gentle and all-natural… again, every BODY is different. 

What is a toner?


Think of a toner as a skincare primer. It’s meant to create a hydrating base for the rest of your skincare. It brings your skin back to it’s normal pH level — since cleansers can set that out of wack.

What is a serum?


A serum is full of all the good stuff. It’s mainly made up of oils that are catered to your skin type. In a serum, you can address oil, dryness, sensitivity, anti-aging, acne, etc. A serum is meant to be a powerhouse of goodness that goes over top your toner and underneath your moisturizer. A moisturizer locks everything in place.

So think of it like this: toner is a base coat, serum is your nail polish color, and a moisturizer is your top coat. Can you get away with just using one or none? Sure. But it’s a way to keep your skin looking as good as it can for as long as it can.

You can find loads of toners and serums in stores and online. But you can also make them super easily.

What’s your skin type/skin goals?

The first part is to figure out what kind of skin you have and what are your skin goals.

For instance, I have dry, sensitive, red skin. So my goals are to hydrate and alleviate my redness as much as possible.

For someone else, you may have oily skin and feel like you have to wipe your T-zone off all day long. So your goal is probably oil control.

Maybe you have acne-prone sensitive skin. Your goal is most likely reducing inflammation and treating your acne.

Or, perhaps you’re blessed with normal skin. You have the freedom to have loads of fun with serums and toners!

Oily skin tips


For you, I’d recommend a routine kind of like this:

Pre-cleanse your face using the oil cleansing method. I talk more in-depth about the oil cleansing method in a previous post. You can check that out here.

But generally, the oil cleansing method is a way to take off your makeup and dirt from the day before you go in with your cleanser. Castor oil is the best to use for oily skin. I would say use 2/3 of your container (I use a glass, blue dropper bottle I got from a health food store) with your main oil, like Castor oil, and 1/3 with any additional/specialty oils if you want (rosehip is great for inflammation and improving skin tone).


Once you get all your makeup or just general grime off your skin from the day, go in with a cleanser. Charcoal bars are great for oily skin and acne-prone skin.

If I want a really good cleanse, I even use a charcoal bar sometimes, too!

Then it’s time for the toner!


Here are a few ingredients I’d recommend for your toner as someone with oily skin:

Apple cider vinegar

Green tea

Witch hazel

Citrus essential oils

Geranium essential oil

Cypress essential oil

Tea tree essential oil (esp. for your acne-prone)

Patchouli essential oil (esp. for acne-prone)

Lavender essential oil (good for every skin type!)

Frankincense essential oil (good for every skin type!)

Witch hazel and apple cider vinegar should be diluted. But they both work well at really clarifying your skin and bringing it back to the right pH after cleansing. I’d say fill up a small spray bottle with 2/3 apple cider vinegar and the rest with distilled water and 10-20 drops of the essential oils of your choice. You can also add in some green tea for antioxidants and soothing properties (yes, make a cup of STRONG green tea, and once it cools off add it to your spray). You can either spray it directly to your face or spray it onto a cotton round and apply it onto your face that way.

NOTE: Citrus oils may cause photo-sensitivity — this means if you go in direct sunlight after using them, it may irritate your skin.



Be sure to use an emulsifier if you’re going to add essential oils to water to make a spray. You can think of an emulsifier as partially water-based and partially oil-based — sort of.

Essentially an emulsifier positions itself between oil and water and can act as a middle-man between the two — therefore sort of connecting the two.

Here are examples of common emulsifiers:

☑ Apple cider vinegar
☑ Witch hazel
☑ Castile soap
☑ Aloe vera gel
☑ Honey
☑ Alcohol (i.e. a high proof vodka)

If you’re going to make a spray using any essential oil, be sure to use one of the above emulsifiers.

Next, use a serum.

For serums, you want to have essential oils and a carrier oil of your choice I’d recommend grape seed oil for jojoba oil as a carrier oil for oil skin. For essential oils, I’d use any combination of these:

Citrus essential oils

Geranium essential oil

Cypress essential oil

Tea tree essential oil (esp. for your acne-prone)

Patchouli essential oil (esp. for acne-prone)

Lavender essential oil (good for every skin type!)

Frankincense and/or Melrose essential oil (good for every skin type!)

Put 10 drops of whichever ones you prefer in a dropper or roller ball container and fill the rest with a carrier oil. Use that all over your face.

Now, since there is oil in that, it will be hydrating. If you notice it’s too hydrating for during the day, opt to use your serum only at night.

Then it’s time for your moisturizer. This is a tough one for oily skin. You may have to figure out on your own what is going to be the best for you. You can make something simple using aloe vera gel, vegetable glycerin, beeswax and shea butter. Or perhaps opt out of using the shea butter if it’s too moisturizing for you.

Experiment and see what works for you!

Also, try a mattifying primer to put on after your moisturizer, or in place of it. Zao Organic Makeup has a great primer for oily skin from what I hear. Check out the Detox Market for some of the best in green beauty.

Dry skin tips


If you’ve got dry skin, I wouldn’t use Castor oil at all for the oil cleansing method. Instead, opt for a hydrating oil to remove your makeup/dirt from your face. Try one of these:


Sweet almond


I typically use straight up avocado oil to take off my makeup and I love it.


Then, as far as cleansing goes… I only wash my face at night. In the morning, I splash my face with some water and then tone, use my serum and moisturizer, and then apply my makeup. At night, I’ll use a charcoal cleansing bar or my homemade face wash that just contains Dr. Bronner’s unscented baby soap in a foaming pump with water, avocado oil and frankincense, rosemary and lavender oils. It’s been great for me because it’s simple and really gently cleanses my face. I’m a huge fan!

Then for my toner I’ve been switching it up. I really like Fat and the Moon‘s rose and sage toner. It’s AMAZING. But if I just want to whip up something on my own, here are a few of the ingredients I use:

Aloe vera juice

Witch hazel

Vegetable glycerin

Frankincense essential oil

Lavender essential oil

Melrose essential oil

Lemon essential oil

Rosemary essential oil

Cedarwood essential oil

I don’t use that much witch hazel… I just use enough so it can act as an emulsifier between my essential oils and distilled water.

As a serum, I use Young Living‘s dry skin serum and I LOVE it. If I’m out of that serum, I mix a bunch of the essential oils listed above in a roller ball container and fill the rest of the bottle up with sweet almond oil as a carrier oil.

For moisturizer, I’ve been switching between two different ones.

The first, is a concoction I created myself. It’s SUPER moisturizing. I typically eye-ball the measurements, but here are the ingredients:

Shea butter

A little bit of coconut oil

Avocado oil

A little bit of raw honey

Beeswax (or candelilla wax)

Aloe vera gel

Lavender essential oil

The second moisturizer I use is by Fat and the Moon. Their aloe lotion is outstanding! I love it because after I put it on, my foundation sits so nicely on my skin. It’s the best! I’m a BIG Fat and the Moon fan. Check out why here.

If you’ve got acne-prone skin, incorporate tea tree into a lot of your recipes. If you’ve got aging skin, utilize frankincense. If you’re hoping for a general skin boost, opt for citruses.

What DIY skincare do you use? If you’ve tried any of my tips above, please let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

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