Toner was once considered an essential in the basic three-step skincare regime (cleanse-tone-moisturise). Now, it’s often overlooked. Why? To be honest, they’re mystifying.
Case in point: I’ve been obediently applying a toner since I started caring about skincare, simply because a beautician told me to. But, what the heck does it even do? TBH, I’m not too sure. And, I bet I’m not alone.
That’s why I decided to call in the skin care gurus for the low down on whether you really need to use one.
What is a toner?
According to FacePlus Medispa’s Advanced Dermal and Laser Therapist, Yvonne Culhane, a toner is used to complete the skin cleansing routine. “A toner’s main function is to regulate the PH levels of the skin post-cleansing,” she explains.
How do you apply it?
It’s fairly simple. Right after cleansing, use cotton pads to apply toner to dry skin. The cotton pads should come away completely clean. If you’re using a spray toner, apply liberally over the face. Spray toners can also be sprayed over makeup throughout the day to hydrate the skin, says Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica.
What are the skin benefits?
“Toners are designed as treatment products for specific results for the individual’s skin condition. However, toners or facial mists in general terms are designed to:
- Boost the moisture content of the skin to help reduce dehydration and fine lines.
- Even out the skin’s surface porosity, meaning balancing out the dry patches.
- Introduce water-soluble ingredients into the skin such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, vitamins, peptides etc.
- Reduce the quantity of moisturiser required making them economical to use. If you skip the toner application you’ll find you need to add more moisturiser to get the same result. Another benefit of a spray toner is you can keep one in your bag to freshen up throughout the day,” continues Hobson.
How do you choose the right one?
Like any other skincare product, the key to choosing the right toner is to pick one that’s suited to your skin type. As a general rule of thumb, avoid toners with alcohol and artificial fragrance, as they can be drying, warns Hobson.
1. Sensitive skin
If your skin is sensitive, Culhane recommends looking for ingredients such as aloe vera and rose water. Both of these ingredients have a calming and soothing effect. Dr. Spiller’s Aloe Sensitive Tonic and Sodashi’s Calming Rose Face Mist are great options.
2. Dry skin
For dry skin, water or Glycerine-based toners will help add moisture back into the skin, says Culhane. We love Trilogy’s Hydrating Mist Toner because it promises to deliver instant moisture. Similarily, Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion 2 is also formulated for dry/combination skin.
3. Normal skin
Normal skin types should look for cucumber in the ingredients. Dermalogica’s Multi-Active Toner combines Arnica and cucumber extracts to help keep skin smooth and refreshed. Meanwhile, Pixi’s Glow Tonic is an exfoliating toner works to remove dead skin cells. As a result, expect a healthy, radiant glow.
4. Oily skin
If you’re on the oily end of the spectrum, a key ingredient to look out for is witch hazel, says Culhane. Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner is jam-packed with good-for-your-skin ingredients, and it’s affordable. In addition, Aveda’s Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist also harnesses witch hazel, along with white oak and peppermint, to help balance oily skin.