Toners aren’t what they used to be!
Gone are the days of astringent harsh toners that smell as harsh as they feel on your skin.
Today, they’re a staple in skincare routines and they’re not just for treating hormonal acne.
Finding the right toner that meshes with your skin type, goals, and other products can be overwhelming.
What is this stuff anyways?!
In this blog, we’re going to help you find the best toners to make your skin smooth, hydrated, and glowing, no matter what your skincare concern may be.
What is toner?
Like we mentioned above, toners used to be pretty harsh.
I remember using them in middle school and hoping that the burn was a sign that it was working.
What we learned (not surprisingly) is that you shouldn’t be in pain from applying your toner – these are far too harsh.
For a long time, toners had a bad rep!
Then, as k-beauty became more and more influential worldwide, people started to give it a second chance.
At first glance, toner just looks like water.
You can pour a little on a clean reusable rag or cotton round and apply it before you get into the thick of your skincare routine (literally).
Toners provide quick weightless hydration to the skin, clear out some of the dead skin cells on top, and provide a well-prepped base for some of your heavier products.
Toners weren’t made to replace your daily moisturizer, they were made to boost its efficacy by providing a clean, fresh base.
High-quality toners can contain acids, glycerin, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and more.
What does toner do for your face? Skin toner benefits
Whenever we recommend a start-to-finish skincare routine that includes a facial toner, we often get asked “How does toner help your skin?” It can seem unnecessary among the hard hitters like a cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF, but it makes a big difference!
In addition to acting as a booster for your favorite skincare products, using toner daily can have noticeable effects on the clarity, hydration, and texture of your skin.
Ultimately, it depends on what ingredients are included in your toner but generally, the benefits of toner for skin include:
It cleanses skin:
Facial toners are a great sidekick to cleansers.
Traditionally, facial toners contain high amounts of alcohol to rid your skin of oil that can cause clogged pores and acne.
Today they are formulated to gently yet deeply cleanse the skin to remove excess oil, dead skin cells, and makeup.
Apply a toner after using a cleanser to finish the job and leave skin fresh and clean!
This is especially crucial for your anti-maskne routine to rid your skin of bacteria that might’ve been trapped in by your face mask.
Many of the gentle and versatile toners on the market are great for boosting your skin’s hydration.
Look for a toner that has humectants (agents that improve the skin’s barrier and ability to retain moisture) and contains low amounts of alcohol to reap all the benefits of toner for dry skin.
No surprises here!
Toners help to soothe the skin and reduce irritation that can cause splotches and irritation.
It balances the skin’s pH:
This is where the magic happens.
Many of the amazing benefits that a good skin toner provides are by regulating your skin’s pH back to its natural, healthy state.
Our pH can be altered by our environments, what we eat, how often we wash our faces, and what we use to wash them.
Toners can help to regulate your pH back to where it wants to be to keep itself healthy.
It reduces oiliness:
When our skin’s pH is all over the place, our skin tries to compensate by producing more oil.
Get too much and you’ll have an undesirable sheen and acne.
By regulating the skin’s pH, it regulates its oil production.
It reduces pore size:
Facial toners tell our skin to calm down.
When oil production slows, pores shrink and the skin can even become tighter overall.
This also minimizes the target that dirt and skin cells can become trapped in, thus even more acne-fighting power!
It makes our other products more effective:
After cleansing, you might be tempted to apply moisturizer right away.
However, if you’re able to hold off and insert this super easy step, it can improve your skin’s absorbency and make all your products from serums to moisturizers more effective.
Think of it like a dry sponge.
You can pour a whole gallon of thick heavy paint on top of it and it will barely penetrate the top.
But, if you get that sponge moist first, it’s more willing to drink up the heavier product you put on top of it.
How to use face toner
Face toner is not fussy and shouldn’t add much if any time into your skincare routine.
In short, toner is best applied right after cleansing (or double cleansing) and right before moisturizing.
You can use it up to twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) but if you’re just starting out, test it by applying it to a small portion of skin in the morning.
Then you can apply twice daily if your skin’s really begging for it.
To reduce waste and hassle, many toners come in misting forms that can be applied in one quick step.
If it isn’t in a spray bottle, patting it onto the skin with your bare hands is best to avoid product loss.
In the mornings, follow up your toner with some SPF and a lightweight moisturizer.
In the evenings, apply a serum or overnight cream and let it work its magic.
What skin type should use a toner?
There are many different toners on the market today, each with its own unique formula and set of intended benefits.
You might be asking yourself “How do I choose a toner that integrates with my skincare routine.”
The best way to tackle this is by narrowing in on what you want your routine to achieve.
In a pinch, you can use many natural ingredients to create your own facial toner!
If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, we’ve also recommended our favorite store-bought expertly made toners for every skin concern.
As with all new products or DIY recipes, remember to test a small amount on your skin before applying all over to make sure you don’t have any allergies.
If you have large pores:
As we mentioned above, large pores are usually caused by your skin going into overdrive and producing too much oil.
For this reason, you’ll want to find a toner that deeply cleanses your skin and removes excess skin cells which can define large pores.
Look for AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids), glycolic acid, and witch hazel.
Best toner for large pores:
June Jacobs Green Tea And Cucumber Toner: This 100% natural plant-based toner is a powerhouse! It soothes, exfoliates, and regulates your skin’s pH using natural ingredients to bring your skin back to its natural smooth state.
DIY toner for large pores:
Mix 4 tbsp. alcohol-free witch hazel with 2 tbsp. clean aloe vera pulp or dye-free aloe vera gel. Apply with your fingers after cleansing.
If you have mature skin:
Antioxidants and hydration are must-haves for mature skin.
Glycerine, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, lecithin, and rose water are excellent staple ingredients that should be in multiple steps of youranti-aging skincare routine.
Rose water is loaded with antioxidants and has antimicrobial benefits to help your skin look (and smell) fresh as a rose.
Best toner for mature skin:
Mad Skincare Anti Aging Glycolic Toner:Glycolic acid is one of the most active and beneficial of alpha-hydroxy-acids. It gently exfoliates away dry and dull skin while its unique blend of white, red, and green tea rush in to nourish the skin with antioxidants.
DIY toner for mature skin:
Mix 1/4 cup green tea, 1/8 cup pure pomegranate juice, and 1/8 cup filtered water. This mixture is filled with antioxidants to protect your skin from harmful free radicals.
If you have oily acne-prone skin:
For individuals with this skin type, the emphasis is on cleansing the skin without stripping it of the natural oils it needs.
This is where traditional face toners failed – they stripped away too much oil so the skin compensated by making even more.
Apple cider vinegar is great for balancing your skin’s natural pH to help regulate oil production.
Toners with salicylic acid are great for cleansing but not stripping the skin.
Witch hazel does wonders for managing inflammation and redness caused by acne.
Best toner for oily skin:
Bioelements Acne Toner:This toner was formulated specifically for acne-prone skin. It regulates oil production in the skin without stripping it and neutralizes acne-causing bacteria. It’s easy to apply but makes a world of a difference in your anti-acne skincare routine!
DIY Toner for oily skin:
Mix 2 tbsp. rose water with 1/2 cup alcohol-free witch hazel and apply before using an oil-free moisturizer. Witch hazel is a powerful astringent that can help to clean out clogged pores!
If you have dry skin:
If you have dry or combination skin, don’t be afraid of toner!
Amino acids and hyaluronic acids will help your skin to “protect” its moisture by strengthening the skin barrier.
Just be sure to follow it up with a lightweight moisturizer for your skin to drink up!
Best toner for dry skin:
Epicuren Skin Conditioner Enzyme Toner: This hydrating, gentle toner glides over your skin like it’s a serum. Collagen, aloe vera, fruit and herbal extracts help you restore your skin’s moisture without clogging your pores with heavy oils. Apply it after using a hydrating cleanser and before your moisturizer to lock in moisture at every step!
DIY toner for dry skin:
Mix 1/2 cup rose water with 1/2 cup pure aloe vera or aloe vera gel. Aloe is a great lightweight moisturizer!
If you have dull skin:
One of my favorite things about toner is that it livens up dull skin for the fresh glossy glow that everyone is going crazy over.
Toners are great because they get rid of the dull dead skin cells that hang out on the top layer of your skin and make it look less vibrant.
Brightening ingredients like lactic acid and other natural exfoliants reveal the healthy youthful skin that lies underneath!
To fast track your glow, follow this skincare routine.
Best toner for glowing skin:
Ilike Organic Skin Care Sour Cherry Toner: If you’re looking for a glow, look no further! This toner takes away all the things that weigh your skin down, like excess oil and dead skin cells, and replenishes it with natural antioxidants and vitamins to show off your healthy glow.
DIY toner for glowing skin:
Mix 1 cup water, 1 organic chamomile tea bag, 1 tsp. Honey, and 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is a great exfoliant while honey helps you to seal in moisture! Remember to apply it lightly so you don’t have to wash off any excess “product” or stickiness.
If you have combination skin:
People with combination skin often feel like they’re in limbo; what works well on your cheeks might not work well in the T zone.
Luckily, toners are pretty versatile.
If you know you’re extremely oily along the T zone, you can apply an oil-control toner here and a moisturizing toner everywhere else.
But if you’re like me and don’t want to add an extra step, versatile toners that contain witch hazel, rose, and apple cider vinegar are a great pick.
Best toner for combination skin:
Ilike Organic Skin Care Sour Cherry Toner: We recommend this toner to get glowing skin for all skin types. It does much more than just wick away excess oil from your t-zone – it gently cleanses and hydrates dryer areas too! Apply some to your entire face every day to see the best results.
DIY toner for combination skin:
Mix 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon of glycerin and 3–5 drops of fresh lemon juice. This is a very gentle toner that won’t strip or overwhelm your skin, no matter where you apply it.
If you have sensitive skin:
Those with sensitive skin should steer clear of alcohol and other harsh ingredients.
As with all skin types and products, plant-based is always the way.
Try a gentle toner that has ingredients like witch hazel and rose water to moisturize and soothe sensitive skin.
Best toner for sensitive skin:
Epicuren Skin Conditioner Enzyme Toner: Sensitive skin? Have no fear. This product feels more like a conditioner for your skin than a toner. It uses powerful, natural ingredients to restore the skin’s pH balance and improve skin elasticity, color tone, and overall facial skin health. It will help to manage inflammation and irritation and provide a solid base for all your other products.
DIY toner for sensitive skin:
Mix 1 bag of chamomile tea (or 2-3 drops of chamomile oil) with ½ cup of rose water. This will help to soothe irritated skin and reduce redness for even the most sensitive skin types.