I Haven’t Seen One Blackhead Since I Started Using This Toner

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

I’ve always used toners for their oil-taming potential. The first time I tried one — a witch-hazel-heavy concoction — it felt like my face was on fire. But I didn’t mind the redness on my cheeks or the splotchiness on my forehead; this was back in the era of orange-juice-colored Clean & Clear and apricot-emblazoned St.Ives, when stinging was supposed to mean a product was really working.

I’m not such a skin-care neophyte anymore. But I’ve spent a small fortune over the years trying to find a toner that will help me look less shiny without being too harsh. I’ve tried Darphin’s chamomile-charged Intral, Caudalie’s grape-logoed Vinoclean, and a very pretty rose-petal option from Fresh, to name a few — and I didn’t love any of them. It’s hard to find a formula that’s helps with oiliness but isn’t ridiculously drying. Some left my face feeling sticky, while others were too tightening.

So when I recently finished another bottle of toner that I wouldn’t repurchase, I decided to try Farmacy’s well-reviewed Deep Sweep, partly for its intriguing name.

Deep Sweep comes in a pistachio-hued glass bottle in line with the beauty company’s botanical branding. Its scent is best described as fresh and clean, and the moment I tried the toner after cleansing — swiping it onto my skin with a cotton pad — I liked how invigorating it felt, like splashing cool water on your face on an especially hot day. There was no stinging sensation at all. It just took a few seconds for my skin to devour the Deep Sweep. It didn’t leave any tackiness, like how your face feels after you pull off a sheet mask. I was also impressed with how it prepared my skin for the products I used afterward. I rotate through a number of “lotions and potions” in my nighttime routine, and everything from First Aid Beauty’s acne-treatment pads to Sunday Riley’s CEO cream to Fresh’s floral overnight mask soaked right in, rather than taking forever to dry down. That’s been a problem I’ve had with other toners (including Chanel’s blue-tinted $52 Le Tonique). And Deep Sweep worked just as well with my morning skin care.

The Deep Sweep in situ. Photo: Author

I’ve been using Deep Sweep daily for more than a month now, and its combination-and-oily-skin-specific formula has helped me with my greatest skin-care concerns: greasiness (I’ve been known to compare myself to a melting Goober candle), blackheads, and very visible pores. The toner contains acne-fighting BHA along with moringa-seed extract and papaya enzymes, which have turned out to be a near magical trio for my skin. Since I was unfamiliar with the latter two ingredients, I turned to dermatologist Debra Jaliman, who explained that moringa hydrates while antioxidant-rich papaya unclogs pores and smoothes skin texture — together, they help ease the exfoliating salicylic acid in the bottle.

That’s the science behind what’s happening, but what I’ve seen for myself is a big difference in oiliness. It’s almost as though the toner is blotting my skin for me. Then there’s what I can’t see: blackheads on the sides of my nose that have bothered me forever. Even as I glare into the mirror — prodding at my nostrils to double check — they no longer polka-dot my skin. The most annoying pores look much smaller, too.

It’s as if I’ve finally found the missing piece to my personal skin-care puzzle, where all the other toners I’ve tried never truly fit.

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I Haven’t Seen A Blackhead Since I Started Using This Toner