One of the most simple products that a formulator might be called on to produce is a toner. This Olay Oil Minimizing toner is one of the most popular ones so it makes sense for us to dissect the label and see what this thing is all about.
Olay Toner LOI
Water (Eau), SD Alcohol 40, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, PEG 40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Allantoin (Comfrey Root), Menthyl Lactate, Fragrance (Parfum), Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090), Yellow 5
The 1% Line
As always when trying to take apart a formula it is useful to figure out the 1% line to determine which are the most important ingredients and which are the claims ingredients that are not crucial to the performance. Toners are particularly simple formulas so you don’t often find a lot of ingredients. This one has 10 ingredients but the reality is that there are only 2 that have most of the effect, WATER & SD ALCOHOL 40. Everything after the alcohol is likely used at levels below 1%.
What the ingredients do
For some, toners are a mystery. It is not actually clear why people use them as Colin has pointed out. The way they are marketed is as an additional cleanser. So in this formula the water and alcohol are doing the bulk of the oil & dirt removal. A cotton ball is used so the dirt is essentially wiped off.
Since consumers expect things like Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera these are also included. The Witch Hazel is said to be an astringent but I would be surprised if someone tested a formulation with and without this ingredient and was able to tell a difference in the product performance. The Aloe, Castor Oil, and Allantoin have all been traditionally used in skin care products and are likely used to support the story of this product. I wouldn’t expect them to do much either.
The color and fragrance ingredients will have an effect on the aesthetics of course. Note this formula does not require a preservative because it has a high level of alcohol.
Olay Toner claims and support
There aren’t many claims to this formula so support is pretty simple.
1. “Tones by removing dirt, oil and make-up without stripping skin’s essential moisture.”
This is the primary claim and the reason people use the product. The alcohol will help dissolve most oil and dirt on the skin and the cotton ball wipes it away. Since the term “skin’s essential moisture” is rather meaningless there isn’t much claim support that needs to be done. You could make a reasonable argument to say that since the product is water based any moisture that you may have removed would be replaced at the same time.
2. “Dermatologist Tested.”
This is simply done by giving the product to a dermatologist (or testing house with a derm on staff) and having them test it in some way. The test that they do doesn’t matter.
3. “With witch hazel”
People expect toners to have astringent properties and have come to expect Witch Hazel as an ingredient to do that. So, the formulators simply include it. Whether it does anything in the formula or not is debatable.
4. “Oil Minimizing Toner.”
Whenever you use the word ‘minimizing’ you are being vague enough that supporting the claim can be simple. There is no defined limit for ‘minimize’ so as long as you can show your product removes some oil, you can support the claim of minimizing.
5. “Warnings – Keep away from extreme heat and open flame”
This product has a high level of Alcohol so they are compelled to put this warning on the label.
Olay Toner overall
This is a best seller on Amazon so Olay is definitely doing something right with the formula. It’s a water/alcohol solution with a nice fragrance. Effective, affordable, but also pretty easy to copy as there is nothing special about the formulation.