What is toner and why should you care? Here’s everything you need to know about find the best toner for healthy, beautiful skin
If the word “toner” brings up painful memories of astringent products that sting so much it feels like your face is on fire, then you probably haven’t touched the stuff since you were an acne-laden teenager. And it’s time we set the record straight.
Toners have come a long way, and these days most skin and beauty professionals consider them an essential part of any skin care routine (even in adulthood). Every skin type—from dry to oily and everything in between—can benefit from toner.
Need some convincing? Then read on to learn what toner is, what it does for your skin, how to use it, and the best toner for your face.
At its simplest, toner is a liquid product that’s applied to the face. It’s typically made up of water and a mixture of other ingredients that vary by brand. Toners are generally used after cleansing and before moisturizing as part of an overall skincare routine.
The toners of your teenage years probably stung so much because they contained high amounts of alcohol. The alcohol was added to strip oils from the skin—while this was thought to remove the oils that might contribute to acne, it also had a severely dehydrating effect.
Luckily, more natural solutions were found, and today’s toners are typically gentler and more versatile. There are plenty of alcohol-free toners available, and a wide range of products exist to address different skin concerns. We’ll take a look at some of these potential uses in the next section.
The specific uses and benefits of toner vary a bit depending on the ingredients. That said, here’s a general overview of what face toners can do for you:
- It cleanses the skin. Toners help clean up the skin’s surface and remove dust, dead skin cells, and other impurities so they’re less likely to clog up pores and contribute to acne. Toners can also provide extra assistance in removing makeup. It should be noted that toners aren’t meant to be a substitute for cleansers; rather, they help finish the job that cleansers start.
- It hydrates the skin. This is unlikely to be true for toners with high levels of alcohol—but more natural toners can have a hydrating effect. Toners are typicallyhumectants, which is a fancy way of saying they help draw moisture into the skin.
- It reduces irritation. Toners that contain soothing ingredients may help calm down red, irritated skin.
- It balances skin pH. Human skin naturally leans toward the acidic side of the pH scale, but soap is generally alkaline. This means too much cleansing can throw your skin pH out of whack. Toners help restore this balance by tipping the scales back toward acidity.
- It helps reduce oiliness. A great side effect of a more balanced skin pH is that it helps reduce excessive oil. This, in turn, can cut down on breakouts.
- It minimizes pores. Because toners tend to remove excess oils from the face, this can help pores appear smaller. Toners may also help tighten and firm the skin.
- It helps protect the skin. This is primarily because (as noted above) toners tend to shrink the pores. When the pores are tighter, it’s more challenging for dirt, oils, and other impurities to squirrel beneath the surface of the skin.
- It preps the skin for the application of other products. This is true for two main reasons. First (as noted above), toner helps remove dead skin cells, dirt, and so on that might otherwise serve as a barrier for the absorption of other products. Additionally, toner helps wet the skin. Just as a sponge can absorb more water once it’s wet, skin is better able to absorb beauty products if it’s been dampened first.
Now that you understand the benefits of modern-day toners, you may be leaping to slather the stuff on your face. But before you incorporate toner into your skin care routine, it’s important to know the right way to use it. Here are some tipsfor putting toner to its best use:
- Use toner right after cleansing. Immediately after washing your face, apply the toner to your face, neck, and décolletage. (We’ll detail how to apply it in the next bullet point.) Toner can be used up to twice a day—depending on how much your skin needs. If you’re concerned that your skin is becoming irritated by twice-a-day applications, scale it back to once a day or even once every other day.
Apply toner by spraying or patting, not rubbing. Some toners come in a convenient spray form; in this case, all you have to do is spritz the product onto your face, neck, and décolletage. Otherwise, dispense toner onto a cotton pad or directly onto your hands, and then gently pat the toner onto your skin. Some sources claim that people with oily skin will fare best with the cotton pad approach, while those with drier skin should adopt the hands-on application. There’s no hard-and-fast rule here, though, so don’t be afraid to experiment with what works best for you and your skin.
- Apply moisturizer after toning. In the mornings, follow up your toner application with a light moisturizer and sunscreen. In the evenings, apply heavier moisturizers, creams, or serums after toning.
As you can see, using toner is quite simple. While it does add an additional step to your skin care routine, that step is fast, painless, and beneficial to the skin.
If you start to research face toners, you’ll probably notice that a few ingredients keep showing up in different articles, DIY recipes, and recommendations. Some of the most popular face toner ingredients right now include witch hazel, rose water, and apple cider vinegar. What is it about these ingredients that contributes to some of the best toners around? Let’s check them out.
Witch Hazel Toner
Witch hazel frequently shows up in face toners, and for good reason. This natural ingredient has been shown to soothe inflammation and irritation; heal minor skin injuries; reduce redness and oiliness; hydrate the skin and reduce water loss; tighten skin; minimize the appearance of pores, black heads, and white heads; and slow down signs of aging. It’s also high in antioxidants and boasts antimicrobial properties.
Rose Water Toner
Like witch hazel, rose water is an ingredient that frequently shows up in natural toners. Also like witch hazel, it’s packed with good-for-you ingredients. As the name implies, rose water is a liquid that’s made from water and rose petals. (The petals are distilled with steam.) This fragrant liquid has long been used as both a perfume and a medicinal product; evidence suggests it’s been in use since as long ago as the 7th century.
Why are humans so drawn to rose water? Research suggests it has several properties that make it great for the skin. For starters, it’s loaded with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. This helps explain why it’s been shown to fight off acne, reduce inflammation, soothe irritation from conditions such as eczema or rosacea, reduce redness, treat skin infections, protect against cell damage, and slow down signs of aging.
Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
You may be familiar with apple cider vinegar as a culinary staple, but it’s got plenty of uses in your toiletry case as well. That’s because it’s loaded with nourishing vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, and E along with alpha hydroxyl acids that help remove dead skin cells. It’s also been shown to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Together, these factors help explain why apple cider vinegar has been shown to balance skin pH, prevent oily buildup, and remove impurities from the skin.
As you can imagine, the best face toner for most people is one that draws on plant-based and effective ingredients such as the ones described above. That is why we made the best face toner we could by combining all three of these star ingredients.
Our botanical face toner spray combines all of the best face toner ingredients around—while leaving out the harsh chemicals found in many conventional toners. This facial mist is completely free of toxins, perfumes, sulfates, and other harsh and potentially harmful chemicals. And like all of our products, it’s cruelty-free.
Our robust yet gentle formula combines witch hazel, rose water, and apple cider vinegar for a formulation that’s ideal for all genders and all skin types—from dry or sensitive to oily or acne-prone. Together, the safe and effective ingredients in our formula have been shown to:
- Deeply hydrate and nourish the skin
- Improve skin tone and rejuvenate dull skin
- Make skin more soft and supple
- Minimize inflammation and redness, including inflammation brought on by acne, rosacea, or dryness
- Reduce the appearance of pores
- Balance skin pH
- Fight bacteria, fungus, and other skin issues
- Prep your skin for moisturizers and makeup
Bottom line? Our plant-based formula draws on time-tested ingredients to contribute to a softer, healthier, more glowing complexion overall. So if you’ve been on the fence about whether to incorporate face toner into your skin care routine, consider this your motivation to take the leap!