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What Is Face Toner and What Does It Do?

Posted by Nikki Wisher on Dec 26th 2023

What Is Face Toner and What Does It Do?

If you’re new to skin care or if you typically stick to a few basic products, a complex routine of skin care products looks like a mystery. What are all of those things anyway and what do they even do? Is there something missing from your skin care routine just because you don’t know you should be using it?

Skin care knowledge is a skill you can grow little by little. To help, we’ve dedicated this blog to explaining one of the most misunderstood skin care products: toners.

What Is Toner?

Toner is a water-based skin care product that’s part of the cleansing process. Its primary purposes are to clear away any debris your cleanser left behind and to prepare your skin for the rest of your skin care products, although it can also refresh your skin’s balance in a soothing, hydrating way.

What Can Toner Do for Your Skin?

Should you add a toner to your skin care routine? What could it offer to you and your skin? There’s a wide variety of toners on the market, some hydrating, some soothing, some acne-fighting, and so on. They can bring you several outstanding benefits such as:

  • Adding an extra cleansing to your skin to remove any debris your cleanser left behind
  • Making your pores less receptive to pollutants and environmental damage while also making your pores look a bit smaller
  • Balancing your skin’s pH
  • Boosting your skin’s hydration
  • Preparing your skin for your other skin care products in a way that makes those products more effective

Where Does Toner Go in Your Skin Care Routine?

The order in which you apply your skin care products matters, so if you add a toner to your routine, where does it go? Easy: immediately after your cleanser. It’s part of the cleansing process so you want it to clean up anything your cleanser misses, and you also want it to be able to prep your skin for the rest of your products, so apply cleanser before any serums, moisturizers, or other non-cleansing products.

How to Use a Face Toner

Any new skin care product you add to your routine can be a learning process, but luckily, toner is easy to grasp. In the case of most toners, just apply the toner to a cotton ball or cotton round and gently wipe it throughout your face. Some toners come in a spray, and in this case, you can just mist it onto your face. Either way, don’t rinse off the toner. Just give it a few seconds to settle and then you can apply the next product in your lineup.

Toner can be part of both your morning and nighttime skin care routine. If you want to be economical with your time, though, your skin can also benefit if you only use toner once per day.

How to Choose a Toner

Incorporating a toner into your skin care can be a great way to upgrade your skin health, but where do you start? Follow these tips to find a toner that’s the right fit.

Know Your Skin Type

Your skin type (like dry, oily, normal/balanced, or combination) is a great way to narrow your search for the right cleanser. Every toner has its own special formula and many are catered toward certain skin types. For instance, a hydrating toner is perfect for dry skin while oily skin is better suited for a toner that helps to manage excess oil.

Consider Your Skin Goals

Regardless of your skin type, we all have certain goals for our skin or directions we want to go in – hydrating, soothing, etc. Choose a toner that contributes to your skin’s needs, like a healing toner for skin that’s sensitive and prone to inflammation. Some toners have particularly unique and specific purposes too, like reducing hyperpigmentation.

Be Careful with Alcohol-Based Toners

It used to be common to see alcohol-based toners, which are also called astringents. While these are still around, it’s important to realize that they’re only meant for certain types of skin. An astringent can be excellent for controlling acne because it reduces excess oil and kills bacteria – two key factors that contribute to acne breakouts. But it can also be very drying, so this type of toner is generally only suited to acne-prone skin.

Consider a Mist for Easy Re-Application

As we mentioned above, some cleansers come in the form of a mist. While it might not make much of a difference during your skin care routine, a mist is handy for reapplying during the day. While most people only need cleanser once or maybe twice a day, a mist toner can be handy if your skin looks worse for wear later in the day and could benefit from reapplication. For example if you have dry skin and it tends to get dry throughout the day (especially in dry climates and seasons), a hydrating or balancing toner mist could be great to stash in your purse or your desk.

Trying Out a Toner for Your Skin

If you’ve been following a consistent skin care routine but your skin isn’t looking as great as you’d like, a toner could be an excellent boost. With the tips above, you can easily incorporate it into your routine and get the perfect fit for your skin. Let’s go get toned!