What Exactly Are The Benefits of Facial Toner And Should You Be Using It?
You may not have used toner since you were 14 years old, when you were hoping and praying it would magically erase your acne. But surprise! It's back and better than ever.
“Facial toners have made a comeback, thanks to the widespread popularity of Korean 10-step skincare regimens,” says Christine Choi Kim, M.D., dermatologist for The Body Shop.
But even for those of us who aren't interested in committing to the full nine yards (or rather, 10 steps) of K-beauty, toner can be a seriously clutch part of your skin-care routine:
What is face toner?
Face toner is basically an in-between skin-care step, used after washing your face but before moisturizing it. They were originally designed to rebalance skin after washing with harsh soaps and cleansers. “Toners are typically water-based, though some newer formulations are toner-serum hybrids with more substantial gel or lotion textures,” Kim explains.
What does toner do for your face?
Face toners prep the skin for moisturizers and serum, Kim says, while getting rid of excess excess oil and stubborn dirt or makeup leftover on your face after you wash it. But, Kim says, they're not a replacement for washing your face—think of them as the extra credit rather than the shortcut of your skin-care routine.
But the reformulated toners of today go beyond that basic role. “They are used to target a varying array of skin concerns—from acne to dryness to aging," Kim says. So a toner for oily skin might have ingredients that cut down on oil production, while a toner for drier skin might have more hydrating ingredients.
Who should use face toners?
“Toners vary in their ingredients and properties, so there really is toner out there for every skin type,” Kim says. Oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin—all can benefit from a toner.
What should I look for in a face toner?
Kim suggests looking for ingredients specific to your concerns. Some examples:
- Rosewater for hydration
- Chamomile for soothing
- Tea tree oil to fight oil and bacteria
- Aloe vera to calm inflammation and redness
- Vitamin E for hydration
- Plant stem cells for antioxidants and anti-aging properties
For dry skin, Kim likesThe Body Shop British Rose Petal-Soft Gel Toner(, thebodyshop.com) “The formula is extra gentle and alcohol-free, so skin will appear extra soft and replenished,” she says.
If you have oily skin, she recommendsSkinCeuticals Equalizing Toner(, skinceuticals.com), which has exfoliating hydroxy acids and soothing botanicals.
For a more multi-tasking product, Kim recommendsSon & Park Beauty Water(, amazon.com) “It cleanses, tones, exfoliates and hydrates all in one,” she says.
How to use face toner
Thankfully, using toner is a lot easier than jade rolling. Wet a cotton pad with toner, then swipe it over your entire face, neck, and chest. You should use toner after washing your face, and before using serum or moisturizer. (You can also wet your hands with toner and pat it gently on your skin, too.)
“Toners can be used twice daily after cleansing, as long as your skin can tolerate the formulation,” Kim says. Skin that gets dry or irritated from a toner might need to use it less often. And for more astringent formulas (designed for oily or acne-prone skin), she suggests using it every two days before gradually ramping up.
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