Review: Ole Henriksen Balancing Force™ Oil Control Toner

“A pore-refining toner with salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids to remove excess oil, clarify, and freshen the complexion without stripping skin.”


The Ole Henriksen Balancing Force™ Oil Control Toner has been lauded by many as the holy grail toner for oily skin. As someone eager to control the sebum in my own oily skin, I didn’t hesitate to try the product. I wish I had carefully considered the ingredient list a bit more before dabbing this product on though, as it was nearly unbearably irritating. I gave the product a few days before returning it, and I’ve never looked back. Regardless of whether or not you have sensitive or oily skin, I can’t warn you enough to stay away from this product. Ironically, for the Ole Henriksen Balancing Force™ Oil Control Toner, the cons far outweigh the pros.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: Water, Polysorbate 20, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Gylcerin, Gluconolactone, Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Oleth-20, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Menthyl Lactate, Eucalpytus Globulus Leaf Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Melia Azadirachta Seed Oil, Linoleic Acid, Macrocystis Pyrifera (Kelp) Extract, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Extract, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan) Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Linolenic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Calcium Gluconate, Benzoic Acid, Tocopherol, Limonene.

Significant Pros

  • Glycolic Acid (ph balancing and exfoliant)
  • Glycerin (hydrating)
  • Salicylic Acid (ph balancing and exfoliant)
  • Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (calming, humectant and emollient)

Significant Cons

  • Polysorbate 20 (fungal acne trigger)
  • Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water (drying astringent)
  • Eucalpytus Globulus Leaf Oil (skin irritant)
  • Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil (skin irritant)
  • Limonene (skin irritant)
  • Linolenic Acid (ph balancing and exfoliant, but too much in combo with the ones above)
  • Melia Azadirachta Seed Oil (fungal acne trigger)
  • Benzoic Acid (ph balancer, skin irritant)

The Takeaway

There are quite a few reason why this toner is so irritating. First, it combines a variety of skin exfoliants into one product, a recipe in and of itself for disaster. These acids aren’t bad on their own, in fact, they’re each quite good, but the combination of all of them is certainly too much, even if your skin isn’t sensitive enough to feel it at first. In addition, it contains essential oils such as Eucalyptus and Peppermint, some of the most irritating essential oils for the skin. Add in witch hazel (which is not only too stripping for sensitive skin, but in general, should definitely not be the top choice for astringents for anyone these days), limonene, and fungal acne triggers . . . well at this point there isn’t even a point in discussing the pros. Final verdict? Never again.

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