Sometimes it’s nice to take things back to basics with our skincare routine. Exfoliator, cleanser and toner: three easy steps and you’re done! But of all these steps, the last is the one we’re most guilty of skipping… but in missing step 3, are we in fact missing a trick? Skincare giant Clarins would certainly suggest we are. They have their own Clarins Toning Lotion with Camomile, promising to ‘stimulate and refresh… soften, smooth and soothe’ to leave the skin ‘perfectly radiant’. With claims like that, we Beauty Geeks could find the time to use this toner – that is if the science is savvy of course!

The Science behind the Bottle – Camomile
We’re probably most aware of camomile as a relaxing herbal tea, perfect for easing pre-exam jitters or winding down after a stressful day. Its soothing properties have also been used in skincare for thousands (yes, literally thousands!) of years, with Ancient Greeks and Egyptians relying on crushed camomile flowers to treat extremely dry and red skin. Camomile extracts contain a compound called bisabolol, which blocks the production of small inflammation-causing molecules called cytokines. With bisabolol in this product, we would hope to see inflamed skin calmed, soothed and less noticeable – that’s one of the product’s claims met already!

Tilia cordata Wood Extract
Moving on to another botanical ingredient: Tilia cordata wood extract. Tilia cordata is a species of Linden tree, which is widely used in traditional herbal medicine. The properties of the extract seem to depend on which part of the tree it was sourced from. It looks like Clarins might have fallen down here. Googling could lead you to believe that Tilia cordata might be a skin saviour – moisturising, an anti-oxidant, an anti-inflammatory – but dig a little deeper and these reports are actually associated with the flower or leaf extracts, not the wood. The only function listed for Tilia cordata WOOD extract is to treat liver or gallbladder disease… and we can’t even find research to support that! Sorry Clarins, but we’re just not convinced by this ingredient.

Sunflower Seed Oil
Sunflower seed oil looks to be a bit more promising. Although commonly found in the kitchen, studies have shown this oil to have ‘significant benefits’ when it comes down to the skin. This is thought to mainly be down to its high linoleic acid content. Research carried out on healthy human volunteers showed that sunflower seed oil reduced transepidermal water loss (water sneakily escaping through the skin). By reducing this loss, moisture levels can improve! Sunflower seed oil looks like a fantastic natural moisturising ingredient; the science supports it!

Moving on to Vitamins
Vitamins aren’t only for fruit and vegetables – they’re also favourites for skin care. Clarins says that ‘vitamins A, B and E improve skin quality’ in this toner, so let’s look at why vitamins are worth getting excited about!

Vitamin A
Vitamin A derivatives called retinoids have been abuzz in the beauty world for a while now, not only due to their interesting acne-fighting properties, but also because they have been linked to skin irritation in their stronger forms. The good news about the vitamin A in this product is that it comes in the form of retinyl palmitate, which is eventually converted to retinoids by the skin itself. This is less irritating than applying retinoids directly on to the skin, so it is suitable for those of us with more sensitive complexions.

For some time now, vitamin A-related molecules, like retinoids and tretinoin, have been used topically to reduce skin wrinkles and improve the appearance of skin that has been damaged by the sun. Topical use is known to help support collagen levels in the skin, and blocks enzymes that degrade collagen, and there are reports flying around the web that it also helps boost levels of the elastic molecule elastin (although we couldn’t find robust studies on this property). Together, collagen and elastin are essential for the springy strength our skin needs to stay looking youthful and as a result, retinoids have been deemed ‘significantly effective’ at reducing the appearance of facial wrinkles! Retinyl palmitate gets a big tick from us!

Vitamins B and E
Vitamins B and E are also interesting topical vitamins in skin care. Propanol (converted to vitamin B by the body) has been shown to improve the skin’s natural barrier, reducing transepidermal water loss in a similar way to sunflower seed oil. Clarins says that this toner will ‘respect the skin’s moisture levels’ – these two ingredients should make a great team to back up this claim. And what about vitamin E? Well it wouldn’t be Beauty by the Geeks if we didn’t find an antioxidant to talk about! Tocopherol acetate (vitamin E’s alter-ego) is just that, scavenging free radicals that are notorious for damaging our skin and contributing to premature ageing.

The Verdict
This product has been dubbed ‘Best Toner’ by InStyle and looking at the ingredients, it seems like this title could be well deserved. Although the lack of science behind the linden tree extract leads us to wonder why it was included (maybe they should have switched to an extract from a different part of the plant!), the rest of the ingredients look well chosen. But does the product meet its promises?

1) ‘Stimulate and refresh’?
Sunflower seed oil has been linked to stimulating skin cell repair and retinoids stimulate collagen and elastin production. Tick!

2) ‘Soften, smoothe and soothe’?
Camomile, sunflower seed oil and vitamin B have all been linked to improving the skin’s moisture levels, leaving it softer. Tick! Retinoids have been shown to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles, leaving the skin looking smoother. Double tick! Camomile contains bisabolol, which prevents the production of inflammatory molecules, soothing inflamed patches of skin. Triple tick!

Our routines are jam-packed and hectic, but it looks like we might have to make time for this Toning Lotion with Camomile!

If you want to get some for yourself, click HERE!

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Some references for what we’ve been chatting about…
http://www.clarins.co.uk/toning-lotion-with-camomile–dry-normal-skin-/C010103001.html
http://www.makeupalley.com/product/showreview.asp/ItemId=45168/Toning-Lotion-w/-Chamomile-for-dry-or-normal-skin/Clarins/Toners
The active natural anti-oxidant properties of chamomile, milk thistle, and halophilic bacterial components in human skin in vitro.
Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future
Less-known botanical cosmeceuticals
Anti-aging cosmetics: Facts and controversies
An antiaging skin care system containing alpha hydroxy acids and vitamins improves the biomechanical parameters of facial skin
Effect of Olive and Sunflower Seed Oil on the Adult Skin Barrier: Implications for Neonatal Skin Care
Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations.
Tilia Cordata (Linden) Wood Extract – The EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database
Improvement of naturally aged skin with vitamin A (retinol).
Skin anti-aging strategies
Image (thank you!): http://www.clarinsusa.com/en/toning-lotion-with-camomile/C010103001.html