Aesop B & Tea Balancing Toner

 

Aesop™
B & Tea
— Balancing Toner.

Aesop B & Tea Balancing Toner
 
 

Toners are generally for refining the skin surface, balancing the pH, and preparing the skin for hydration (i.e. moisturisers and serums). The B & Tea Toner is one of the products in Aesop Tone range appropriate for most skin types including combination and sensitive. Aesop’s key ingredients in their B & Tea Balancing Toner are Sodium Gluconate, Panthenol, and Green Tea.
 

Aesop is a relatively new brand in the market, however have made waves in the luxury skincare market due to their impeccably minimal designs, and carefully formulated signature scents. The brand is for the design conscious, and certainly not targeting those who prioritise organic or natural skincare regimes. Consumer experience is carefully curated through one of Aesop’s signature stores, renowned department stores, or high-end independent boutiques.

 
Aesop B & Tea Balancing Toner

Brand integrity

Luxury formulations coupled with meticulous design are what Aesop’s was built upon. Their objective has been to use the finest quality ingredients, from plant-based to laboratory made, to ensure standout efficacy. This is done through their extensive and independent approach to product research and development, where in-house chemical scientists conceptualise product ideas, research blends and create prototypes.

Through Aesop’s FAQs, there is a level of transparency in regard to their organic and natural status. They state that they don’t associate products within these categories due to their formulations combining high quality botanical, however also synthetic ingredients. Aesop also recognise the source of where their products can also be derived from using non-organic techniques, stating how they are “practical about how realistic it would be for [them] to use only organic ingredients”.

Aesop believes “well-considered design improves our lives”, and with that in mind, incorporate intelligent and sustainable design throughout the product packaging through their brick-and-mortar and online consumer experience. Sustainability, however, is not a core priority with Aesop packaging, as we are less informed on what materials are used, and rather directed to how Aesop aims to improve this segment of their business as transparently as possible.

 
Aesop’s store in Melbourne’s Fitzroy was designed by local studio  Clare Cousins Architects . Photography by Trevor Mein via  Yellow Trace.

Aesop’s store in Melbourne’s Fitzroy was designed by local studio Clare Cousins Architects. Photography by Trevor Mein via Yellow Trace.

First impressions

Fragrance: 
The fragrance is has a strong botanical blend, but not the type we’re used to. The unique and complex blend of Green Tea and Garden Camellia Leaf Extract makes this particular scent very signature to Aesop, and gives us the opportunity to perceive a high quality product, perhaps due to the unusual blend of ingredients. It’s very green, almost stalky in scent, contributing to the potency of the herbaceous blend.

Texture: 
Toners are notoriously very fine in texture; however this particular product is incredibly lightweight and aqueous in consistency. As the droplets hit the skins surface, it trickles off, almost waterproof until its blended into the skin by a cotton pad. Due to its lightweight texture, a small amount can be blended across a large surface area.

Efficacy:
Toners allow for preparation of hydration for all skin types (i.e. under serums and/or moisturisers), and is recommended in accompaniment of a range of other Aesop products dedicated for combination or oily skin types that may be problematic or dehydrated. The B & Tea Balancing Toner’s texture allows for this step in our skin routines, and because of its ability to go a long way, we may not be replacing this product as quickly as others.

 
Aesop B & Tea Toner

Ingredient watch

read our full Formulation Analysis

The Good

Antioxidant rich, ‘It ingredient’ - Green Tea.

Panthenol, a pro vitamin of B5.

The Questionable

Sodium Gluconate, a commonly used as a stabiliser in the cosmetics industry.

Disodium EDTA, a preservative and a stabiliser.

 
Aesop places more emphasis on the design aesthetic as opposed to sustainability of their packaging. Photography by Trevor Mein via  Yellow Trace.

Aesop places more emphasis on the design aesthetic as opposed to sustainability of their packaging. Photography by Trevor Mein via Yellow Trace.

Packaging review

This product uses glass, 1 type of plastic in its packaging and a plastic label.

Bottle type: Glass - See more about Glass and its impact
Cap: PP - See more about PP and its impact
Label: OTHER - See more about Plastic Film and its impact


Aesop are incredibly design-focused in relation their design aesthetic. Their priority unfortunately doesn’t lie where the external vessel is concerned, more-so the quality of product within.

Our first question was how to reuse the plastics of the product. Unfortunately, Aesop doesn’t offer refills due to “hygiene and logistics” nor product stewardship for the same reasons, however encourages their consumer to recycle them by providing some examples of make-shift ideas for around our homes – from vases to storage containers. The B & Tea Balancing Toner, as well as many other products in Aesop that have a high concentration of active botanical extracts in their formulations, are housed in pharmaceutical-grade amber glass. Primarily this is chosen for the stability of the product, however it’s much more likely that a customer will recycle a vessel of glass over plastic within their home.

 

Formulation full analysis

The Good

You may have noticed Green Tea is a popular “It” ingredient in skincare lately, and we are absolutely on board with the topical benefits. The high level of anti-inflammatory properties makes it especially attractive to those with sensitive or irritable skin types, as it’s cooling and calming on the surface level of the skin. The Vitamin K, antioxidants and tannins found in Green Tea work to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness in the eyes, and reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. The perfect ingredient for a toner due to its antioxidant contribution in healing damaged skin cells, providing a clean surface for moisture in your final skincare steps.


Panthenol has so many great benefits for the skin, as well as having a highly soluble quality that makes it a dream ingredient for many cosmetic companies. This ingredient is actually present in all living skin cells, and once it hits the skin, it results in a conversion to pantothenic acid; readily absorbed by the skin and penetrating past the initial surface layer. The hydrating and moisturising properties of Panthenol is extremely high, as Pantothenic acid works as a humectant by infusing water into cells, and when used regularly over the period of four weeks or more, takes on an anti-inflammatory role.

Panthenol is a pro vitamin of B5, and as we know deficiency in vitamin B5 can result in dermatological disorders; this may explain its anti-inflammatory properties.


The Questionable

Sodium Gluconate has been highlighted in the product, so we thought it would worth delving a bit deeper into what it actually is. The actual ingredient is a neutralized salt of gluconic acid and is commonly used as a stabilizer in the cosmetics industry. Traditionally this is labelled a “skin conditioner” and is one of the only chelating ingredients that has the ability to inactivate iron and copper ions over a wide pH range, in turn helping protect oils and actives in skin care such as anti-oxidants.

However, this ingredient is also commonly found in textile dying, printing and metal surface cleaners. We’re going to leave this one under questionable because of this. It may be used in those products as a cheleating agent or a preservative, so perhaps if it’s a small amount, it might be ok. Like all ingredients that have a capped percentage of recommended use, it is imperative to understand how much of the product you are using – as we could all be going over the threshold without even knowing.

Disodium EDTA is a really concerning in any cosmetic product. Usually, it’s included as a preservative, to enhance the foaming action or to stabilise the ingredients used. Because this toner doesn’t have a foaming texture, we can assume the its been added as a preservative and a stabiliser. The primary reason we can’t get on board with this ingredient is that it is a “penetration enhancer”. That might sound like it’s doing its job quite well, but in fact, it is disrupting the skin’s microbiome for other chemicals to penetrate easier. This includes the preservatives and chemical additives in the product, as well as the chemicals in your environment. Disodium EDTA has the ability to bind to metals dissolved in our shower water, which isn’t something we want penetrating further than the surface of our skin.

 

Thoughts?

Do you think Aesop lives up to its cult status? Or is it overrated?

Would you turn a blind eye to questionable ingredients if the product was proven to be effective?

Join the conversation in the comments below.


More reviews:

Have a product that needs reviewing?

— Join the Noema conversation.