What Is Face Toner? Facial Toner Is a Must in Your Skin Routine

What Is Face Toner? Facial Toner Is a Must in Your Skin Routine

When you’re putting together a skincare regimen for your individual skin type, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of options available.

“Facial toner serves as the perfect follow-up to your cleanser, and choosing the right toner can help you make the most of your skincare routine!”

  • Shani Darden, Esthetician

Which products will work best with your skin? Which products do you actually need? Which products can you combine, and which ones can irritate the skin when applied together?

Some consider toner a must-have, while others may have never even heard of it. So let’s demystify face toner and figure out whether it’s a must-have for you.

What Is Face Toner?

Toners are skincare products with lightweight, often astringent formulas that are designed to remove any leftover impurities that your regular cleanser may have missed. These products are usually packaged in spray bottles, although sometimes they’re designed to be used with cotton rounds.

Face toners sometimes have a bad reputation because, in the past, they were formulated with excessive levels of alcohol. While some skincare products use alcohol to help the products dry when you apply them, too much alcohol can cause dryness and irritation in the skin.

Today’s toners are formulated to be more gentle on your skin and often have exfoliating properties, as well. They also frequently include botanical ingredients such as witch hazel, rosewater, or tea tree to help condition the skin. 

Toning your skin can help remove excess oil, dead skin cells, and other grime that may linger after cleansing. Additionally, toners with soothing ingredients such as niacinamide can help minimize the appearance of pores and brighten your overall skin toner.

It’s a great way to prepare your skin for the rest of your skincare routine as well because it can help make your skin more receptive to other products in your routine. Not only that, but even the best cleanser can upset your skin’s pH balance. A good toner can help correct your skin’s pH, promoting a balanced, even skin tone and a glowing complexion.

Who Should Use Toner?

As I mentioned in the last section, fears about astringent or skin-stripping facial toners are mostly outdated at this point. Toners — and skincare in general — have come a long way. 

But, as with all skincare products, it’s important to choose your toner according to your skin type. If you’re more of a skincare minimalist, you may wonder whether you need a toning step at all.

Whether or not you truly need a toner depends on your skin type. If you have oily skin or if breakouts are a main skin concern for you, you may want to use face toner. 

Toners are great for oily and blemish-prone skin because they can help support balanced sebum production and promote a healthy pH balance for your skin in general. 

This is important because your skin has its own microbiome that can help neutralize unwanted bacteria before it affects your skin. If your pH levels aren’t optimal, it can disrupt your skin’s microbiome and lead to unwanted side effects.

Toner may also be useful if you feel your cleanser isn’t quite cutting it. While ideally, you’d have a cleanser in your arsenal that both cleans your skin and leaves it feeling soft and hydrated, depending on your skin type, it can be useful to have a second line of defense when it comes to keeping your pores and skin breakout-free.

Who Shouldn’t Use Toner?

If you struggle with dry skin or skin-related conditions, it’s probably best to steer clear of astringent-based toners. For instance, if you have rosacea, experts recommend avoiding astringents and sticking with creams and soothing gel products. 

Of course, if your dermatologist recommends otherwise, it’s always best to trust the professional that knows your sensitive skin best.

That said, if you have dry skin, you should generally avoid toner unless your dermatologist specifically recommends it. This goes for those who have naturally dry skin and for those whose skin is dehydrated from over-using powerful active ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs).

Because toners generally tend to have astringent or oil-clearing properties, they can actually cause irritation and redness in dry skin. Since dry skin types typically suffer from not having enough oil to keep their skin moisturized, removing the oil they do have can do more harm than good.

If you have dry skin but are still looking for something to prepare your skin to absorb your serums, you may want to consider using an essence instead. Essences are similar to toners, but they typically don’t have the same drying effects.

How Can You Work Face Toner Into Your Routine?

Working a facial toner into your skincare routine is actually about as easy as it gets. Because your toner is unlikely to contain ingredients that have negative reactions with other ingredients, you typically don’t need to be overly cautious when working it into your routine. 

That being said, make sure to always read the ingredients list of any product you buy and be sure to patch-test your new product before applying it universally. As long as you don’t have a reaction, you’re good to go.

So let’s break down a simple routine that can be used both in the morning and in the evening to get the best use of your facial toner.

1. Cleanse

As always, cleanser should be the first step of your skincare routine! You should generally stick to a hydrating cleanser like my Cleansing Serum to make sure your skin is thoroughly cleansed , but not stripped of essential moisture.

That’s why my cruelty-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, and sulfate-free cleanser has a luxurious lather that seamlessly melts away makeup and pore-clogging impurities without stripping your skin. Humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin hydrate your skin, while restorative ingredients like oat bran help to support your skin’s natural moisture barrier.

Meanwhile, calming olive extract helps to soothe redness and irritation, leaving you with clean, moisturized, and glowing skin.

2. Tone

This is where your new toner comes into play! My Sake Toning Essence fits perfectly into this step because it combines the benefits of a toner with the nourishment of an essence to deliver softer, more radiant skin, all while minimizing the appearance of your pores.

Featuring sake to brighten and tone, rose canina fruit extract to minimize the appearance of pores, and niacinamide to soothe the skin, this toning essence truly does it all.

Simply pour a little of this hydrating toner onto your clear skin with a cotton ball or cotton pad and enjoy the soothing benefits of this fragrance-free and vegan formula.

3. Apply Serum

Once you’re done toning, it’s time to apply your serums. Serums are often where you’ll find concentrated active ingredients like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and retinol. 

These products are great for targeting specific skincare concerns like dark spots or wrinkles. Apply your serums the way you normally would, and let them soak in before moving on to your moisturizer.

4. Moisturize

Finally, seal all of your hard work with a moisturizer. If you have dry skin, you may want to use a heavier moisturizer with occlusive ingredients like shea butter or squalene.

If you have oily skin, you may want to use a lightweight moisturizer that uses hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Additionally, make sure whichever moisturizer you choose is oil-free.

The Bottom Line

Like many skincare products, the overall effect of your toner is going to depend greatly on its individual product formulation, how you use it, and whether or not you have a skin type that might benefit from it. 

With a little bit of research into ingredients, finding the best toner for you can help you have the appearance of glowing and healthy skin, no matter what your skin type.


6 Rosacea Skin Care Tips Dermatologists Give Their Patients | American Academy of Dermatology

The Relation of pH and Skin Cleansing | Karger

Moisturizers: The Slippery Road | PMC


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