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The Ultimate Guide to Toners: Exploring the Benefits & Uses In Skincare

This article was last updated on: July 28, 2023
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Embarking on a journey to explore the realm of toners? You’re in for a treat! Toners, a crucial yet often overlooked component of skincare routines, hold many secrets waiting to be discovered. If you’re unsure about their purpose or how to select the perfect one for your skin type, worry not.

This all-inclusive guide is here to unveil the mysteries surrounding toners, from their myriad benefits to their seamless integration into your skincare routine. So, let’s get started and uncover the wonders of toners together!

What are toner products in skincare?

The definition of a toner (also sometimes referred to as skin toner) changes depending on who you ask, so there is no immediate answer to “what does toner do?” because they all seemingly do different things (you’ll know this if you’ve ever shopped around for one).

At the most basic level, toner is a lightweight liquid solution that’s applied to the skin after the cleansing phase of your skincare routine – it can contain any number of active ingredients that are meant to benefit the skin.

Generally speaking, toners in skincare are liquid-based products designed to balance, refresh, and prepare your skin for the rest of your routine. Typically applied after cleansing and before moisturizing, toners serve a variety of purposes, depending on their ingredients and formulation. They can help remove residual impurities, tighten pores, restore your skin’s pH balance, and provide hydration.

There are various types of toners on the market, catering to different skin concerns and needs. Some toners focus on hydration, featuring ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Others target acne-prone or oily skin with components like salicylic acid or witch hazel. Additionally, toners with antioxidants and brightening agents address dullness and uneven skin tone.

What Are The Benefits of Using Toner Products?

As mentioned above, toners do different things, meaning that the benefits of using toner products in your skincare routine are many and various, depending on the specific ingredients and the concerns they target!

Here are some of the benefits toners can provide, though please note that toner is only likely to do one or two of these at best:

Removing impurities left behind after cleansing

When cleansing your face, some dirt, makeup, or debris might remain on your skin. Toners act as an extra line of defense, ensuring that your skin is thoroughly cleansed. By swiping a toner-soaked cotton pad across your face, you can remove any lingering impurities that your cleanser didn’t quite manage to eliminate. This clean canvas allows for the rest of your skincare products to work more effectively, as they won’t be hindered by any residual dirt or grime.

Restoring Your Skin’s pH balance

The skin’s natural pH level typically hovers around 5.5, which is slightly acidic. This acidity helps to maintain the skin’s protective barrier, also known as the acid mantle. Factors like harsh cleansers or environmental stressors can disrupt the skin’s pH balance, leaving it more vulnerable to irritation, dryness, and damage. Toners play a crucial role in restoring your skin’s pH level to its optimal state, ensuring that your skin remains healthy, balanced, and better equipped to combat external aggressors.

Tightening Pores

Enlarged pores can make your skin appear uneven and less refined. Toners can help to tighten and tone the skin, giving the appearance of smaller pores. This pore-minimizing effect results from the astringent properties of certain toner ingredients like witch hazel or tea tree oil. When used consistently, toners can help to enhance your skin’s smoothness and create a more polished, refined complexion.

Soothing Irritated Skin

For those with sensitive or inflamed skin, finding a product that soothes and calms is essential. Some toners are specifically formulated with gentle, calming ingredients like chamomile, calendula, or green tea extract, which help to reduce redness, inflammation, and irritation. These soothing toners can be a real game-changer for sensitive skin, providing much-needed relief and comfort without causing further aggravation.

What Skin Types Can Use Toner?

Toners can be used by all skin types, but it’s essential to choose a toner specifically formulated for your skin concerns and needs. Here’s a guide to selecting a toner based on your skin type:

  • Normal skin: If you have a balanced complexion with no significant concerns, opt for a gentle, hydrating toner that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or aloe vera. These will help maintain your skin’s moisture levels and keep it looking healthy and radiant.
  • Dry skin: For dry skin, choose a toner with nourishing and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides. Avoid alcohol-based toners or those with astringent properties, as they can strip your skin of its natural oils and worsen dryness.
  • Oily skin: If you have oily or acne-prone skin, look for a toner that contains oil-regulating ingredients like salicylic acid, witch hazel, or niacinamide. These ingredients can help control excess sebum production, unclog pores, and reduce the appearance of blemishes.
  • Combination skin: For combination skin, which features both oily and dry areas, choose a balancing toner that can address both concerns. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid for hydration, and witch hazel or green tea extract for oil control and soothing properties.
  • Sensitive skin: If your skin is sensitive or prone to redness and irritation, opt for a gentle, alcohol-free toner formulated with soothing ingredients like chamomile, calendula, or aloe vera. These calming ingredients will help to reduce inflammation and provide relief without causing further irritation.
  • Mature skin: For mature or aging skin, select a toner with antioxidants and skin-rejuvenating ingredients like vitamin C, peptides, or green tea extract. These can help to boost collagen production, improve skin elasticity, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

When to use a toner in your skincare routine

Incorporating a toner into your skincare routine is all about timing. To maximize its benefits, it’s essential to use your toner at the right stage of your regimen. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of when to use a toner in your skincare routine:

Step 1 – Cleansing: Start your routine by washing your face with a gentle cleanser suited to your skin type. This will help remove dirt, makeup, and excess oil from the surface of your skin.

Step 2 – Toning: After cleansing, it’s time for the toner. Soak a cotton pad with the toner and gently swipe it across your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Alternatively, you can pour a small amount of toner into your hands and gently pat it onto your skin. Using a toner at this stage helps remove any lingering impurities, restores your skin’s pH balance, and prepares your skin for the next steps in your routine.

Step 3 – Treatment: Following your toner, apply any treatments or serums that target specific skin concerns, such as acne, hyperpigmentation, or fine lines. Because your skin is now primed and receptive, these products will absorb more effectively.

Step 4 – Moisturizing: Seal in hydration and provide your skin with nourishment by applying a moisturizer suited to your skin type. This will help lock in the benefits of the products you’ve applied thus far.

Step 5 – Sun protection: During the day, finish your routine with broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. This will protect your skin from harmful UV rays and prevent premature aging, sunburn, and skin damage.

Are you meant to use a toner in your nighttime skincare routine?

Using a toner in your nighttime skincare routine is beneficial for your skin. Just like in your morning routine, a toner used at night can help remove any lingering impurities, restore your skin’s pH balance, and prepare your skin for the rest of your evening regimen. The nighttime is an important period for skin repair and regeneration, so ensuring that your skin is clean and receptive to the products you apply is essential.

Conclusion

Toners can be a great addition to your skincare routine! If you’re on the fence about whether or not to use one, we recommend doing some research into the specific benefits that toners can provide and making a decision based on which of those benefits is most important to you.

We believe that, based on the relatively low cost of these products, everyone should at least give them a try… you never know, you may be blown away by the results!

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Picture of About The Reviewer: Gabs Chan
About The Reviewer: Gabs Chan

Gabs has a distinctive voice and a keen sense for uncovering upcoming skincare trends, making her one of the most trusted sources of information in the ever-evolving world of beauty.

Hailing from Hong Kong, her passion led her to London, where she earned a degree in Cosmetic Science from the University of the Arts London.

When she’s not immersed in the world of beauty, Gabs is a passionate advocate for animal welfare and a budding photographer.

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