It was love at first sight when the new Holifrog Utopia Microflora toner ($ 44) arrived in my office. The romantic and colorful packaging, the elegant ceramic bottle with gold-plated logo and blue watercolor painted on the side — is the kind of product you want to display on the counter, not hidden in your medicine cabinet. But as beautiful as the bottle is, what is inside it is even more fascinating.
This “skin support system” goes beyond your standard toner. It is designed to keep your skin barrier at top performance, which is critical to avoiding a range of skin concerns such as irritation, acne and dryness.
Your skin barrier is the first line of defense between your skin and the elements and works to keep water inside and bad things (such as pollution, UV rays, bad bacteria or anything inflammatory or irritating). It consists of three layers: The lipid layer, which is made up of the skin’s natural fats. the acidic mantle, a layer of lipids and amino acids that controls the pH of your skin. and the microbiome, an ecosystem of good bacteria that keeps away pathogens and irritants.
“The skin barrier is like the ozone layer, but for your face and body,” says Kate Roach, a certified beautician and skin care specialist at Woodhouse Spa. “The barrier ensures a balanced pH and protects your skin from harmful free radicals, unfriendly bacteria and irritation.”
When any part of your barrier is at risk (which can happen for many reasons, such as lack of sleep, excessive exfoliation, extreme weather and sun exposure and pollution), you will see results on your skin. “Violated barriers can lead to acne, tenderness and wrinkles due to water loss,” says Roach. Additional signs that your skin barrier is not working the way it is supposed to include itching and dryness (including dehydration), discoloration, signs of aging (such as wrinkles, thinness) and inflammation.
Holifrog toner offers the magic formula for rejuvenating the skin barrier: a little hydration, a little bacterial disinfection and a healthy dose of pre and probiotics to recalibrate the sensitive microchloride ecosystem on your face (also known as the microbiome). This trifecta can help fight inflammation, soothing any redness, dryness and irritation you may have. For starters, it also contains honey – one of Roach’s key barrier ingredients.
The texture and user experience is not that of a traditional toner: it is milky and does not have the same stinging sensation you would probably expect from more astringent formulas. Instead of dragging it with a cotton ball, spread it directly with your fingers and let it soak into your skin.
One last word about the product: Although it is wonderful and effective, it is also quite foul. Do not be disappointed by this! In many cases, this is a sign of a strong fragrance-free skin care product (if you’ve smelled CE Ferulic from Skinceuticals or P50 from Biologique Recherche, you already know that). But trust me – holding your breath for a few seconds is worth the skin toning benefits that this material offers.
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