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Written by Elaine Tu
Facial toners are a step in the skin care regimen that helps balance your skin’s pH levels and purifies the skin. The toning step occurs after removing makeup and cleansing, but before treatments, lotions and creams.
The overall value in introducing a toner to your skin care regimen is to balance your skin pH levels, removing residual dirt leftover after cleansing, preventing clogged pores, and brightening your complexion overall.
Toners will also help your skin absorb the skin care products you may follow up with such as serums, emulsions, moisturizer, etc.
No, they’re not necessary for the health of your skin, although many would say it’s a must due to the benefits people have found from using toners. It is especially recommended for those with oily skin or dry skin.
This step can be especially beneficial for those with oily skin types or dry skin due to the pH balancing properties of most toners, or exfoliating properties to help whisk away dead skin cells that can clog pores.
Follow along for tips on how to choose the right facial toner for your skin type! It could take up to 30 days to see results from any product, but if any sudden irritation occurs, stop use and consult a dermatologist.
We’re not including any products that contain alcohol since alcohol is considered harmful for all skin types. Be careful on your skincare journey, and be sure to read the ingredients for any that you may come across to be sure they don’t contain harsh ingredients such as alcohol, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, etc.
If you’ve got oily or acne prone skin, your main concern would most likely be your overactive oil glands that increase to probability of clogged pores which cause breakouts. To keep oil production in check, we recommend these oil-fighting toners that help clear pores and keep them hydrated, over time reducing any excessive oil production. Ingredients like salicylic acid and AHAs are acne-fighting ingredients you should look for in your acne-prone skin.
Your ideal toner should not make your skin feel tight and dry at all—over drying your skin can cause your oil glands to produce even more oil to compensate for the loss of moisture, which is the opposite of what you want. Although your skin is oily, be sure to moisturize your skin regularly with light gel-based moisturizers after your cleanser and toner to keep those glands happy and hydrated.
This oil-controlling toner contains AHAs, BHAs and lactic acid to help keep those oil glands in check, pores refined and skin hydrated.
This all-natural toner by S.W. Basics contains only 5 ingredients (ones we can actually pronounce at that)! Say goodbye to blemishes and keep oil at bay with apple cider vinegar, a natural astringent that balances your skin’s natural pH, fades acne and age spots, and soothes irritated or inflamed skin (perfect for those swollen pimples that erupt on your skin). It also contains witch hazel, which is known to naturally clarify skin of impurities, and helps prevent blackheads. This one’s also suitable for normal skin types.
For you dry skin babes, toners can be your savior when paired with your skincare regimen. Dry, flaky skin is no joke, and trust us, we know the feels. This becomes an issue when you’re getting ready for a night out and your makeup isn’t going on as smoothly as you want it to. The trick is to whisk away dead skin that is causing texture on your face.
Exfoliating is the key here if you have dry skin. Oftentimes, dry skin can lead to clogged pores which can lead to acne—yikes. Let’s avoid all that and be sure that you’re cleansing properly (AM and PM) and exfoliating 1-3 times a week. Exfoliating toners are the absolute best for getting rid of dead skin from your skin’s surface. Try something with AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) that will remove dirt, grime, and dead skin all whilst balancing your skin’s pH levels, so your skin homeostasis isn’t thrown out of whack.
The Mario Badescu line is a favorite among the beauty crowd due to its value-sized bottles. This one is no exception. Glycolic Acid is an AHA that is beneficial for dry, flaky skin. Soak this solution onto a cotton pad and swipe allover your face avoiding the eye area. You’ll be surprised at how much dirt and grime come off onto the pad! Glycolic is essential to clearing your skin and allowing newer skin underneath to emerge, giving you an overall bright and youthful appearance!
This Caudalie toner is the boost your thirsty skin needs and craves. The formula balances your pH levels, prepping your skin to absorb products from the rest of your skin care routine including eye cream!
Combination skin can be confusing at times to find products for—some toners either cater to the oily crowd or the super dry crowd. If oiliness is the bigger issue for you, try any product that is veered more towards oil-control; in contrast, if your skin is more on the dry side, with flakiness of your skin and texture, try a product that exfoliates and has moisturizing ingredients. However, if you are somewhere in between, your skin will benefit from an AHA/BHA toner with moisturizing ingredients.
Cosrx is a K-beauty brand known for its amazing acne-fighting products. This toner is great for just that, but also for clearing skin of any impurities, oil and even dead skin. AHA combats oil and acne whilst BHA helps remove dead skin—the win-win for combination skin, but really all skin types. This product comes in a spray bottle but don’t be confused! Instead of misting directly onto your face, you are supposed to spray the toner onto a cotton pad. Then, swipe the cotton pad all over your face.
Your skin is considered “normal” if you don’t have allover oily skin or if your skin doesn’t get dry and flaky. You may endure the occasional breakout, but nothing severe or recurring that doesn’t go away with a proper skincare routine. People with normal skin may have oiliness that can be managed with powder or blotting paper 1-2 times a day at the most. If this sounds like you, then you’ll probably want a toner that is gentler on the skin but still does a great job of keeping your skin bright, removing any excess dirt and environmental impurities from your skin.
This natural witch hazel formula is gentle enough for normal skin but also potent enough to remove excess oil and impurities from clogging up your pores. The aloe vera component also helps soothe your skin, keeping it fresh and hydrated.
If you love anything with roses, you’ll love this Allure Beauty Award-winning toner by Fresh. Keeping your skin hydrated will moderate your skin’s oil production, and rose helps to even skin tone and promote brightness and skin renewal. Apply onto a cotton ball and swipe all over the face.
Sensitive skin can include those suffering from redness or irritation. You don’t want to use any harsh acids or facial astringents when your skin is irritated. The gentler route is to opt for toning ingredients such as aloe or rosewater to help calm and soothe your skin.
This aloe vera toner is perfect for sensitive skin. Aloe helps soothe inflammation and irritation and keeps skin hydrated at the same time. You’d also get a lot of use out of the value-sized bottle, getting you the most bang for your buck!
This is another toner with aloe that will keep your sensitive skin happy and hydrated. BHA will also help if you have dry and sensitive skin. BHA removes impurities and dull dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, revealing new youthful skin.
This facial toner is ideal for those with sensitive and dry skin. This calming formula is deeply hydrating, keeping skin moisturized and balanced.