Many people consider facial toner to be just an extra skin care product that is nice, but not necessary to use and include in skin care routine. However, facial toner is a crucial component of daily skin care routine and one of those products that should not be skipped.
I used to always wonder why I need to use this clear liquid and why I would spend extra money on it. So for years I omitted toners.
Then I got into skin care and its science and realized that toner is an essential step in skin care routine. I started using it and could not believe how that “clear liquid” contributed to my skin’s transformation from dull to glowing.
So, I will try my best to explain all the benefits of using facial skin toner and how it might help your skin to become glowing and even more beautiful.
What is a face toner?
Face toner usually looks like a transparent liquid, however, sometimes toners can have different light tint to them (it all depends on what kind of ingredient the particular toner has). Usually pink tint indicates a calming effect; blue tint signals about refreshing properties; green tint usually means that this toner has some ingredients that will target specific skin problems.
On average a toner consists of 95% of distilled water and 5% is useful ingredients. That makes toner a very light skin care product that still contains many valuable components.
Facial toners contain many essential ingredients such as extracts of flowers and other different plants; vitamins, minerals, exfoliating acids, hydrating and fruit acids, essential oils, useful trace elements and many other vital components.
What does toner do?
So, you might be asking a question if face toners are really necessary. Let’s explore.
- Face toner completes cleansing process. It helps to remove excess dirt, traces of makeup and skin oil, that usual cleansing was not able to remove. Even though you wash your face using double-cleansing method, there are some impurities left and face toner is excellent in removing them.
- Face toner restores pH balance of your skin. Let’s face it that cleansing face could be a harsh process even if you are using the gentlest cleansing products. We still rub our face with cotton balls or pads (and we have to do it to physically remove the dirt), then we rub our face while washing off all impurities together with cleansing products.
We have to clean our face, so we cannot avoid cleansing step. However, rubbing and cleansing products do disturb skin’s pH balance.
This is when toners come in into play. Due to their composition, toners quickly restore normal pH balance.
3. Prepares your skin for application of serums and creams. Facial toner is kind of a conductor that enhances active ingredients in serums and creams. In other words, without a toner your favorite cream and serum will not deliver all the goodies to your skin as it does with a toner.
4. Face toner replenishes the skin, removes dull complexion, balances oil production, moisturizes skin and reduces redness and irritation.
What is the best face toner look like?
When looking for a good toner, you need to consider its ingredients. Good balanced toner contains natural moisturizing, toning and cleansing ingredients. Those ingredients include some of the following:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Extract of calendula, aloe vera, blackberry, chamomile
- Alpha-Hydroxy and/or Beta-Hydroxy acids
- Shea butter
- Rose water
- Vitamins A, B, C, E
- Provitamin B5
- Ferments and Probiotics
………..and many more.
Avoid toners that contain some harmful ingredients, which will irritate your skin and cause redness and even breakouts.
You don’t want your toner to contain the following ingredients:
- alcohol (Alcohol Denat, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol)
- acetone (Acetone)
- hydrogenated castor oil (PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil)
- butylphenyl methylpropional (Butylphenyl Methylpropional)
- hydroxyisohexyl-3-cyclohexenecapsule algidopropyl
- methyl acetate
- butylphenylmethylpropionic alcohol Carboxaldehyde)
- parabens (Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben)
- perfume composition (Parfum)
How to choose the perfect toner?
- Determine your skin type. It is very important and many people skip this step. However, think about it: if you have sensitive skin, then products that suppress skin oil production (aka toners for oily skin) might not be the best for you. They might dry your face and cause redness and irritation. Continue reading, we talk more about different toners for different skin types.
- Identify what skin problem you would like to target: dehydration, dull tone, acne and blackheads, wrinkles or maybe a combination of few. Then look for toners which will address the skin issue you are looking to resolve.
- Look at the label and watch for ingredients. Try to pick a toner with the most natural and “good” ingredients and avoid those with “bad” ones (listed above).
Face Toners for Different Skin Types
It is very important to choose toner that is right for your skin type, like with any skin care product. Otherwise a product will not provide you with any benefits and can even cause some skin problems. Each skin type has beneficial ingredients and harmful ones.
(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase, I might receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)
Toner for Dry Skin
Pick toners with powerful moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, amino acids and aloe extract. You can use toner twice a week for enhanced results especially if you spend most of your time in dry cold weather. In addition if you spend majority of your day in either heated or air conditioned space, your skin will dry out with no doubts.
Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner – this is an alcohol-free anti-aging facial toner. It contains Glycolic Acid & Alpha Hydroxy Acid found naturally in Papaya Extract which help to promote skin cell turnover & banish skin dullness. This toner contains Aloe Vera for healing soothing & hydrating properties.
Dr.G Gowoonsesang Hydra Intensive Toner – highly moisturizing toner that delivers extensive hydration to dry skin.
Toner for Sensitive Skin
It could be very challenging to pick any skin care product for sensitive skin. You never know which ingredient will cause redness and irritation. For that reason, look for toners with minimum list of ingredients; choose ingredients that are familiar to you and you know how your skin will react to them.
Because sensitive skin easily gets irritated and inflamed, pick toners that have calming anti-inflammatory effect. Some of the ingredients that provide that are chamomile, cornflower or roses. Avoid products with parabens, perfumes, dyes and alcohol.
It’s Skin Hyaluronic Acid Moisture Facial Toner – toner contains Acerola extract rich in hyaluronic acid and vitamin C that keep skin clean and hydrated. There is no alcohol in this toner and the ingredient list is very minimal.
KLAIRS Supple Preparation Facial Toner – I have this toner and I love it. The list of ingredients is quite extensive, but they are all natural and mostly hypoallergenic. There are no parabens or alcohol in the product.
L’Oreal Paris Skincare HydraFresh Alcohol Free Toner – alcohol-free toner that contains pro vitamin B 5 and mild dose of beta-hydroxy acid to soften and brighten your skin without causing irritation.
Toner for Oily Skin
If you have oily skin, you are probably very familiar with greasy shine and feeling that appears on your face just few hours after applying makeup.
In order to get your sebaceous glands (glands, that produce skin oil) under control you would want to look for toners that control oil production, shrink pores and matte your skin.
Also toners with Alpha-Hydroxy (AHA) and/or Beta-Hydroxy acids (BHA) are excellent choice for your skin type.
Surprisingly enough, the more you moisturize your oily skin, the more hydrated it becomes and the less oil it secretes. That is why moisturizing toners with hyaluronic acid are a must in your skin care routine.
SUISKIN A.C. Contral Toner for Oily Skin – this toner contains salicylic acid which removes dead skin cells, brightens skin tone, controls oil production. Toner also fights acne and moisturizes your skin.
Jeffrey James Botanicals Toner – regulates oil production and minimizes pores. It is also anti-aging and moisturizing product.
SKIN FOOD Peach Sake Toner – toner for oily skin which tightens pores and balances oil production.
Paula’s Choice-SKIN BALANCING Pore-Reducing Toner – the name speaks for itself; this toner is amazing for oily skin.
Toner for Normal Skin
Congratulations! You are the lucky one. Basically any toner will suit you, but look for toners with useful ingredients and avoid components from the “bad” list.
Toner for Combination Skin
If you have dry skin in the cheek area and oily skin in the area of the forehead, nose and chin, then you have a combination skin type.
Choose toners that will deliver moisture to your skin and hydrate it very well. AHA and BHA should be also a part of your T-zone routine (forehead, nose and chin).
You could also try to opt for two toners. Apply moisturizing toner to dry areas, and oil control toner to the T-zone.
Some By Me AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner – amazing toner that contains mild doses of 3 acids that gently exfoliate your skin without causing any irritation, dryness or redness. It will transform your skin in 30 days to a bright, glowing and clear one.
Vichy Pureté Thermale Perfecting Face Toner – this toner will help you to smooth, clean and nourish your skin. It contains 15 mineral that are crucial for your skin’s health and strength.
Toner for Acne Prone Skin
Acne prone skin needs ingredients that regulate production of oil in sebaceous glands, deep cleanse pores from oil and dead skin cells, minimize pores and kill acne causing bacteria. That is why look for toners that contain citric, glycolic or salicylic acids; zinc; sodium hydroxide;, calendula and aloe vera extracts; vitamin B3, centella asiatica, niacinamide and allantoin.
Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner – A facial acne toner that contains Witch Hazel and Lemongrass, known for their astringent properties. This toner removes lingering traces of cleanser, dirt, oil and makeup resulting in naturally clear, healthy-looking skin. This toner also contains Salicylic Acid, derived naturally from Willow Bark Extract, , that works as a skin exfoliator to help unclog pores and prevents future breakouts.
Onsen Pore Minimizing Toner for Acne Prone and Aging Skin – it shrinks pores, restores skin’s pH balance, enhances protective outer layer of the skin to keep it smooth and moisturized.
Sebamed Clear Face Deep Cleansing Toner for Impure and Acne-prone Skin – controls oil production and kills acne-causing bacteria.
How to apply face toner
Use toner twice a day (morning and evening) after cleansing and before applying serums and creams. When applying, avoid the area around the eyes, unless the label states otherwise. There are at least three methods of applying a toner so you can easily pick your preference.
Applying toner with a cotton pad
This is the most common application method that is suitable for any skin type. Apply a few drops of the liquid to the cotton pad and start massaging your skin from center to the sides, avoid pressing too hard:
- from the center of the forehead to the sides; use gentle strokes
- from the wings of the nose to the ears
- from the center of the chin to the ears
- from the eyebrow space to the tip of the nose
Do not forget your neck and chest area, they need some care too.
Applying toner with a cloth
This type of application is the most suitable for sensitive skin. There is not rubbing and as a result no skin irritation involved. Apply generous amount of your toner to the cloth and gently press to your face for few seconds.
Applying toner with your hands
To be honest this is my favorite way of application. It is easy and there are no extra tools involved.
Just simply pour liquid into your palm, than spread evenly through your both palms and then press your palms to the face (kind of like in the previous application but without a cloth).
Do you need to wash off the toner?
No, and you shouldn’t. Remember, toner prepares your skin for further application of other skin care products.
Major Ingredients in a Toner
As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, toner consists of 95% of distilled water (on average).
The remaining 5% varies from toner to toner. These are the ingredients that target specific skin problems.
Some ingredients are very common in the majority of the toners:
Aloe Juice and Aloe Vera Leaf Extract are almost universal to any good toner. Both ingredients soothe, soften, moisturize and restore skin.
Allantoin aids in healing and regeneration of the skin. Allantoin relieves inflammation, irritation, tightens pores and softens the skin.
Hyaluronic acid – a very powerful moisturizing ingredient keeps skin hydrated and smooth.
Glycerol is the most common moisturizing component. It enhances skin miniaturization to deeper layers of the skin (not just the surface).
Glycolic acid – cleans, exfoliates, softens and brightens the skin, helps reduce wrinkles.
Salicylic acid – exfoliates, removes dead skin cells, and regulates the sebaceous glands minimizing oil production.
Thermal water – it is a special kind of water. You can find thermal water in thermal springs located, for example, in the French cities of Vichy and La Roche-Posay. Thermal water contains an amazing variety of minerals and trace elements useful for the skin. The special composition helps to balance skin’s pH, neutralizes the negative effect of free radicals, improves outer skin layer, which protects moisture from escaping and our skin from drying out.
Zinc is important for oily and problematic skin because relieves inflammation, controls oily shin and reduces blackheads.
Calendula extract – relieves irritation, soothes, has a bactericidal and anti-inflammatory effect. Sensitive skin will benefit from calendula extract.
Rose extract has a wide spectrum of action – it rejuvenates, moisturizes, softens, fights against dangerous bacteria and even tightens pores.
Chamomile extract – soothes sensitive and irritable skin.
Witch hazel extract is becoming very popular lately. It is an astringent meaning that it can constrict blood vessels and reduce redness and inflammation. It also kills acne causing bacteria, reduces oil production and can even minimize pore appearance.
Hopefully I was able to convince you that toner is one of the major products in everyday skin care routine. Toner balances skin pH after cleansing, removes debris and skin impurities, targets skin problems and prepares skin for receiving other products like serums and creams.
Pay close attention to your skin type and choose a product that is right for your and that contains ingredients that will help you to achieve beautiful glowing skin that you deserve to have.
Love your skin and do not forget to tone it up!
Facial toner always go after thorough cleansing. I suggest that you read few posts on how to clean up your skin after a hard day.
Also learn about your skin and especially its Protective Barrier.
Then learn about 6 benefits of Using Cleansing Oil.
And then read about Double-Cleansing Method.
The next step in your skin care routine should be application of Essences, Serums and/or Ampoules. Find out the difference between the three and decide which one you need.