What Does a Face Toner Do and Why You Should Use One?


It might not have as much clout as a cleanser or serum, but are toners make-or-break balancing products that can significantly improve your skin? We’ve been told for decades that the basis of any good skincare routine is to cleanse, tone and moisturise and whilst the first and last steps are non-negotiable, let’s look and see if toning is as important as the other two steps.

What is a Face Toner?

A toner’s main job is to gently refresh your skin and remove any traces of oil and debris without stripping skin of its natural oils. Toners are meant to nourish and replenish the skin after cleansing, acting as a primer for the rest of your skincare products that follow.

Traditionally toners were a thin, watery consistency loaded with alcohol that stripped the skin. Today’s toners are extremely innovative with the thin watery ones still existing but now we are beginning to see mists and gel-based toners that contain anti-ageing ingredients like niacinamide and are more soothing and brightening.

Toners fall into two main categories: astringent, and balancing toners.

Astringent toners are designed for oily, combination and acne prone skin as they contain ingredients that are going to reduce excess oils and gently exfoliate the skin. You’ll likely find ingredients such as glycolic and salicylic acid in these types of toners. These toners should only be used once or twice a week in order not to over exfoliate and dehydrate the skin.

Balancing toners are gentler and formulated to balance the skin’s pH, hydrate, and soothe the skin. They contain ingredients that work well for most skin types, especially sensitive skin and can be used daily after cleansing.

What Are the Benefits of a Face Toner?

Removes Impurities: Toners remove any excess makeup, impurities, dust, and pollution that is left on the skin after cleansing. Think of it as the final step in your cleansing routine.

Balances Skin: Toners help balance the pH level of the skin restoring it to an acidic state, which allows for greater absorption and penetration deeper into the skin of the products that follow in your skincare routine.

Seals in Moisture: Balancing toners with nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, provide your skin with an extra hit of hydration and help seal in moisture especially when your skin is dry or when the weather is cooler.

What Skin Types Should Use a Face Toner?

All skin types can use a face toner however you’ll need to choose a toner that's right for your skin type and as with any new skincare product, conduct a patch test first.

For those with oily skin, look for toners that contain hydroxy acids to help clear the pores and reduce oil production. Oily skin types should stay away from toners that contain any oils and instead look for water or gel-based formulations.

Those with dry skin should look for toners that don’t contain too much alcohol but contain moisturising ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or aloe vera. These ingredients are going to add moisture to the skin whilst balancing skin tone.

Sensitive skin types should look for toners with calming ingredients like niacinamide, aloe vera or vitamin c to help reduce inflammation and calm the skin.

How to Apply

The consistency of the toner will determine the application. If your toner is a thin water base, apply using a round cotton pad and gently sweep the skin. Be careful not to tug or pull on your skin, even though cotton is soft, it's abrasive to the skin. If your toner is gel based, you’re in luck and just need to use your fingertips. Pump the recommended amount onto your fingertips and in a circular motion, massage onto your face. If you’ve got a mist toner, you’ll be able to minimise waste as you can spritz it directly onto your face, just make sure to close your eyes.

There are so may different toners available with a myriad of benefits and long gone are the days of toners just being used to help oily skin. If you’re not using a toner yet, it's time to incorporate one into your routine and start seeing the skin balancing benefits.

Witch Hazel toner, pH Balance Gel Toner

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