Use Flowers to Soften and Tone Skin with This DIY Facial Toner Recipe

Pansies and violetsToner is one of those skincare products that often gets left out of skincare regimens. I’ve heard ?many reasons for this, but the two most common reasons are that people don’t believe it’s actually necessary (read this post to see what I think of that), or that they find that it overdries and/or irritates their skin.
Well, I’m a fan of toner–not just as part of one’s skincare regimen, but also to help refresh and re-hydrate the skin throughout the day, when traveling, and also to set or reset mineral makeup. I also love coming up with?my own DIY facial toner recipes, because they can be very simple or you can get really fancy with different ingredients–or anything in between.
Another reason I love making toner is because it’s an excuse to use one of my handmade herbal tinctures–and today’s toner recipe includes a gorgeous tincture I made from this spring’s pansies and violets from my own backyard.

Why are pansies and violets good in toner?

Pansies and violets are sister flowers–both from the same family. Though they come in many varieties, the ones I use are your typical backyard pansies or the ones you’d plant as annuals each spring. The flowers themselves are edible, and are often used as garnishes for salads or as candied treats–and their infusions?are known for several health benefits when taken internally.

These pansies and violets were mixed with 80 proof rum, which extracted their therapeutic properties for three weeks before I strained them out. The leftover liquid is the tincture or extract.
These pansies and violets were mixed with 80 proof rum, which extracted their therapeutic properties for three weeks before I strained them out. The leftover liquid is the tincture or extract.

However, pansies and violets also make great topical skincare ingredients too–you can either make an infusion or a tincture (also known as extract) of the flowers and leaves and add them to any skincare product containing water. Pansies and violets contain a small amount of salicylic acid like willow bark does. It’s not as strong or irritant as lab-made or isolated salicylic acid like you’d see as a stand alone FDA-approved acne medication ingredient–in fact it doesn’t have the same action at all. Pharmaceutical grade salicylic acid strips away whatever’s on the surface of the skin. In some cases you’d want to remove stuff like debris, dead skin cells that aren’t exfoliating naturally on their own, or bacteria. However, it also strips away the skin’s natural oils which are necessary for an intact barrier function which can lead to skin dehydration, irritation, and even premature aging.
The small amounts of salicylic acid in pansies and violets, however, in addition to the other anti-inflammatory properties like rutin and flavanoid antioxidants have a very calming, softening, and soothing effect on the skin which is why I decided to make a toner using both my?tincture of the flowers and an infusion of the leaves and flowers. I also added witch hazel because of its astringent (pore tightening and refining) qualities; aloe vera gel because of its humectant (draws and binds water to the skin) and emollient (nourishes, seals, and protects the skin) properties; and rose hydrosol (both soothing and firming).
Because this is a water-based product, I did add a broad spectrum preservative blend (I used Formulator Sample Shop’s Leucidal liquid which is a naturally fermented product in addition to PhytoCide Elderberry which is an herbal extract), but you can use regular grain alcohol as a preservative. I recommend either 15% Everclear or 20% 80-proof vodka or brandy.

Hydrating and Softening Floral DIY Facial Toner Recipe

Floral Facial Toner RecipeIngredients:

  • 1 oz infusion of pansies and violets
  • 1 oz aloe vera gel
  • 1 oz witch hazel
  • 1 oz rose hydrosol
  • 3 ml pansy-violet tincture
  • Preservative (I used 5% of my Leucidal/Phytocide Elderberry blend)


  • Add all ingredients to a sterilized 4 oz dark glass bottle (I used a cobalt blue glass bottle)
  • Shake well
  • Close tightly with a spray pump top
  • Store in a cool, dark, dry place

Please note:

If you make the toner using the correct percentage of a broad spectrum preservative as I did above, you can expect up to a 1 year shelf life. However, if you’re using alcohol as a preservative, you can expect up to a 6 month shelf life. You might also need to adjust your proportions of the other ingredients to make sure they all fit in the bottle, or use a larger bottle. If you choose to not use a preservative, you must refrigerate your product and be prepared to use it within a week so you’d definitely want to make a smaller quantity if that’s the case.

Want more information about how to make natural DIY skincare products?

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6 thoughts on “Use Flowers to Soften and Tone Skin with This DIY Facial Toner Recipe”

  1. Making a skin toner using flowers is a project I want to do. I will need to read up a little more on making the flower extract and infusion out of the pansies in my garden. Thank you for the recipe.

  2. Hi Rachel,
    Can’t wait to try this recipe!
    Does the the tincture serve as a preservative? With that present, the other preservative blend is necessary?
    How long will it last?

    1. Hi Susan, great question! You can use the tincture at 20% of your total blend to avoid using the additional preservative, as long as you’re not formulating for an overly sensitive skin type. I’d say use it at that percentage within 4-6 months, and of course be sure to work with sterilized materials. –Rachael

  3. This sounds lovely! Is the tincture absolutely necessary? If so, how do you make it? And how do you make the flower infusion and extract?

    1. Hi Karissa, for this particular recipe, yes the tincture is necessary (otherwise it would be a completely different recipe!). An infusion is basically a tea. You steep the flowers in boiling hot water for 20 mins, then strain. To make the tincture/extract there are a variety of methods herbalists use, but the short version is that you add the flowers to alcohol and let it sit for about a month. Then you strain out the flowers. I teach this in depth in the herbal module of my online Create Your Skincare courses, in addition to how to choose the right ones for you, and how to use these ingredients in all different skincare products. Check it out!

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