What does face toner do, and is it really, truly necessary? If you have specific skin concerns that aren’t being addressed by your cleanser, serum, or moisturizer, a facial toner may be the ticket.
What does a facial toner do? Read on for skin care tips on how toners work and how to choose the right one for your situation.
What Is A Face Toner?
Face toner is a liquid that can quickly hydrate and remove makeup residue and dead skin calls from the surface of the skin. It’s typically used after cleansing and before a moisturizer or serum. It helps prep your skin for the rest of your beauty routine.
If the word “toner” makes you think of an overly harsh, astringent liquid, it may be time to update that image. Toners from the past tended to be extremely drying. These days, toners can address an array of skin concerns. They can hydrate and nourish skin.
Yep, toner has evolved.1
Types Of Toners Available
Facial toners typically contain ingredients like glycerin, alpha and beta-hydroxy acids, antioxidants, and more. Because the ingredients are so versatile, there are many potential benefits of this skincare step.2
What Might Face Toner Do?
Facial Toners Help Remove Traces of Dirt, Oil, And Makeup After Cleansing
Even after you cleanse (or double cleanse), grime may still lurk on your face. Using a toner adds one more step for removing debris and impurities. Micellar water is a type of toner that is especially good at removing oil-based makeup.3,4
Toners May Help Minimize The Appearance Of Breakouts
Many facial toners contain blemish-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. These ingredients may help with minor blemishes.5
Toners Help Balance The pH Level Of Your Skin
Skin has a pH of around 5.5. It’s naturally acidic. Its acidic nature helps it seal in moisture and stay firm. Some facial cleansers are alkaline (the opposite of acidic), so they work against these protective properties. A cleanser with a very different pH than your skin may lead to dryness or irritation. Using a toner can quickly balance skin’s pH level if it is thrown off after cleansing.6,7
Some Toners Can Hydrate Like A Moisturizer
Some toners act as humectants. They keep skin hydrated by binding moisture to the surface of the skin.8
Other Toners May Help Control Oil Production
Toners that contain ingredients like sulfur may have anti-irritation and oil-regulating properties. Toners that control oil may also contain ingredients like aloe vera to ensure that skin doesn’t dry out and produce more oil to compensate.9
May Help Protect The Skin
Some toners contain polyphenols — ingredients from plants that act as antioxidants for the skin. Polyphenols may help support your skin’s natural defense against environmental damage.10
May Help Exfoliate And Remove Dead Skin Cells
Toners that contain acids can help exfoliate the skin. Regular exfoliation may help remove sebum and dead skin cells, clear clogged pores, and keep skin bright.11
May Help Restore Nutrients That Are Removed By Typical Cleansers
Traditional cleansers may remove necessary nutrients from your skin. Toners can work to restore these nutrients, which may lead to softer, smoother-looking skin.12
Toners May Help Minimize The Appearance Of Pores
Toners may help close gaps in skin cells, which may help reduce the appearance of pore size.13
Facial Toners May Support The Effectiveness Of Other Skincare Products
Toners really do punch above their weight class. Since they cleanse, exfoliate, and balance the pH level of skin, they act as a palette cleanser. Once your skin is prepped by a toner, other skincare products are free to penetrate deeper into the skin. This may support their effectiveness.14
Where Does Face Toner Fit Into Your Skin Care Routine?
Toner is typically applied after you cleanse your face. It can be used in both day and night skincare routines. An initial cleanse helps clear away makeup, grime, and skin cells, so the toner can get to work penetrating the skin.
How To Use Toner
Toner helps the molecules of the active ingredients penetrate the skin. There are two main ways that you can apply it.
- Dispense toner into your hands and tap it directly into your skin. If your toner has a spray nozzle, you can also spritz it on. Applying it directly helps the toner sink in.
- Dispense toner onto a soft cotton ball or cotton pad and gently wipe it over your face.
After you apply your facial toner, you can continue with the rest of your routine and add on serum and moisturizer.15,16
Time To Tone
A facial toner can help give your skin routine an added boost of moisture, antioxidants, or oil control. Whatever type of toner you choose, remember — it should make your skin feel good. If your face feels tight, red, or overly dry after using a facial toner, you may want to stop using it.
There are many great options out there that may work for you. When in doubt, ask your dermatologist for recommendations.
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