Brightening Refining Tonic
6 fl. oz. for $12
Last Updated:03.31.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

If you've read our reviews for the other products in the Burt's Bees Brightening line, this one will sound like a broken record. Although there are some beneficial ingredients in this toner, they are simply overshadowed by extracts that will serve to hurt skin (and this one is really loaded with the latter), not help it!

Brightening Refining Tonic's "star" ingredient is daisy flower extract, which is supposed to fade dark spots. While there is some research showing this extract does have wound-healing properties, when tested on animals (Source: (Source: Pharmaceutical Biology, August 2012, pages 1031 - 1037), there is little independent research pointing to its effectiveness in treating hyperpigmentation. We do know that this plant extract can cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to ragweed and marigold (Source: naturaldatabase.com).

When looking for a brightening product, you should be checking for proven lightening ingredients, such as forms of vitamin C, niacinamide, arbutin, licorice extract, and hydroquinone - none of which are present here.

The ingredients you really should be keeping an eye out for in this toner are the ones that will harm your skin. Check out the back of the container and you'll see a number of fragrant plant extracts listed, including peppermint, mint balm, lemon, and orange! These can cause inflammation, and the citrus extracts can also be phototoxic, meaning they cause a negative reaction when skin is exposed to sunlight. See More Info for details on why irritating ingredients and fragrant plant extracts are harmful and aging - especially in a leave-on product!

Absolutely walk away from this toner. Instead, take a look at those on our list of Best Toners. Your skin will thank you!

  • Daisy flower extract has been shown to have some wound-healing properties.
  • There is little research showing that daisy flower extract is effective in treating hyperpigmentation.
  • Contains high amounts of irritating fragrant plant extracts, which can impair skin's ability to heal and can cause collagen breakdown.
More Info:

Fragrance in Skin Care: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).


Our tonic is infused with Daisy Extract and effectively removes lingering traces of dirt oil and makeup.


Aqua (Water, Eau), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Bellis Perennis (Daisy) Flower Extract, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane, Extrait De Canne Á Sucre) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Quillaja Saponaria Bark Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Caprylyl/Capryl Wheat Bran/Straw Glycosides, Fusel Wheat Bran/Straw Glycosides, Maltodextrin, Arginine, Alcohol Denat., Alcohol, Phenethyl Alcohol, Parfum (Fragrance), Polyglyceryl-5 Oleate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Citral, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool

Brand Overview

Strengths: Inexpensive.

Weaknesses: Many products have potent fragranced formulas; several formulas packaged in jars, which compromises their ingredients.

With humble beginnings in the town of Bangor, Maine, Burt's Bees is a brand focused on natural-themed, earth-friendly skincare. Unfortunately, in many cases, this also translates to less than beneficial formulas as not all of the natural ingredients used are helpful for skin.

Many of the plant extracts and oils used in these products, including orange oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, lemon oil, eucalyptus oil, pine tar, alcohol, lime oil, and balsam peru, are problematic for skin and present a significant risk of irritation or a sensitizing reaction. Both the intriguing philosophy and inexpensive products are attractive, but it takes more than that to establish reliable products that are good for skin. It’s also important to consider the potential benefit (or potential harm) of the ingredients used.

There are some formulas to consider among the brand’s offerings, but some to be wary of—see our individual reviews on Burt’s Bees products for more details.

For more information about Burt's Bees, call 1-800-849-7112 or visit www.burtsbees.com.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Best toner EVER!

This is probably the best toner I've ever come across and I tried quite a few. I'm on my second bottle already, but even after my first use I could tell that this toner actually "did" something for my skin, in the best way possible. There are so many products out there right now with vitamin c and/or citrus extract, so they are all harmful for our skin? I've been a loyal reader of Paula's beautypedia product reviews, but I am doubting quite a few reviews I came across.

Reviewed by
Nadine Pearson
Beautypedia Team Response

Hello, and thanks for your comments! Vitamin C is indeed a wonderful ingredient for skin, with antioxidant properties and the ability to lighten dark spots - but what's critical is what form the Vitamin C is in. Unfortunately, while citrus extracts does possess all of the good qualities, they also come with components that can be potentially harmful to skin. One of the biggest risks with citrus extracts is that they can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, which is the last thing you want from a product that is designed to treat sun damage! There are plenty of great products out there that contain the beneficial aspects of Vitamin C without the potential risks. We hope this clears up any confusion!

—Paula's Choice Research Team
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