All About Toners and Why You Need Them

I have always insisted that skincare could easily become a religious sect with its glamorous bibles and rituals of worshipping your skin every day… twice. If you are a follower of our kind and welcoming community, then this is a no brainer for you. We start with the makeup remover, then move to the cleanser, prepare our lovely faces with the toner, pamper it with the essences, serums and ampoules, and finish the entire process with a refreshing and moisturizing cream. Too much information to take at once? Let’s just take it one step at a time. This one we will tell you all about toners, why you need them, and how to use them.

All About Face Toners: Skincare Tips

What is a Toner?

After you remove your makeup, you still need to thoroughly clean your skin. The cleanser and toner are the two main steps of cleaning your pores and getting them ready for moisturizing and nurturing. These liquids are usually (not always) comprised of natural oils, plant extracts, and a diversity of other ingredients meant for different types of skin.

If you notice a very thin film after the application, that’s most likely the oil building on your skin, a common property of all natural oils. The good guys!

Toning is always the second step after cleansing. Many beauty experts will insist that toning is an optional step or that you should even skip it. While you are responsible for the final decision, here is some information to help you with the task.

There are 3 types of toners:

Alcohol Based

These toners are often boosted with very strong ingredients like witch hazel, also known as astringent ingredients. Unless you have a really serious reason for using an alcohol-based toner, we would advise you to avoid them. We are doing our best to protect the sensitive tissue and attacking it with substances that can easily burn or irritate it seems to be the opposite of our mission. You might even damage your skin from misuse of such a strong product.

You might be advised to use an alcohol-based toner, if your skin is overly oily, but this can be your Plan Z. Before you let that cotton pad touch your oily skin, find out the reason for the oil production and fix it. Remove the source of the problem instead of covering it with a dangerous product.

Water and Glycerin-Based

The second type of toners you will find in stores is based on water and glycerin. They usually include scents extracts like rose water and citrus fruits, making them irresistible for buying and starting your mornings with a mind-blowing fragrance.

Resist the temptation! Do you know the scene where a newly-shaved man applies cologne on his face? Yes, you might be that same man, only with a glycerin-based toner. While this type is less strong than the first type, it still has the ability to damage your skin. Allergies to specific fruits or flowers might also kick in just when the burning hot party starts. Its ingredient list is just not safe enough for us to advise it to our readers, regardless of the heavenly fragrance that lures you into a purchase.


The third type of toners is solely water-based, and this is the one you should invest in. It’s usually made up of helpful ingredients, including antioxidants, substances that prepare your skin for makeup, and more.

As this is the only type we recommend you buying, the rest of this article will explore the benefit of water-based toners.

Bonus Type: DIY Toners

If you like to go DIY on your cosmetics and skincare (and we are jealous, because you probably have a lot of time), then you can try a homemade toner like a mix of green tea, honey, and jasmine oil.

Why Do You Need a Toner?

Here are a few reasons why you need to use a toner every day:


Cleaning your skin is a very hard task. A single product or wipe won’t do the job, especially if you make your skin go through all that contouring, blushing, bronzing, foundationing steps (a lot of product for a sensitive tissue like skin).

So, a toner will remove the leftover makeup that the makeup remover and cleanser have missed. Believe me, there is a lot to clean after a cleanser (no matter how ironic that sounds). If you’ve been sitting on the couch for a while, there might even be some dust on your skin that needs to be cleaned, and we are not joking about this. Serious business!

Neutralizing Hard Water

A toner prepares your skin for a bunch of heavy labor activities (whether it’s makeup or just hard water). Even if you’re about to wash your face with water, which seems like a very gentle thing to do, it will still affect your skin, and a toner protects you from all the harsh side effects of… well, water.

A Great Antiseptic

Toners are usually packed with great antiseptic qualities. They not only remove the dirt, but also protect your skin from the bacteria and infections you might have caught during the day or night. If you don’t have any hormonal or serious health issues, this will protect your skin from acne.

Restoring Acid-Alkaline Levels

The level of acid-alkaline, also known as the pH level, decides how sensitive and dry your skin is. When exposed to a number of environmental attacks, including the daily sun exposure, your skin might need an additional help for restoring the balance. A toner does the job every day… twice.

Preparation for Skincare

We’ve mentioned this above. Your toner moisturizes your skin and prepares it for any impending applications planned in the routine. This includes makeup for morning time and creams for your night routine.

These are all the benefits of a regular toner that doesn’t possess any superpowers other than the ones mentioned above. However, if you have a problem that strikes the eye and you would do anything to get rid of it, then there is a whole new range of toners to help. You can find toners designed to deal with a specific issue like hydration, nutrition, clogged pores, inflammation and more.

You might think the world is such a great place to live in with so many products at your disposal. However, even if you picked a toner that has the ability to solve your issue, make sure the rest of your routine doesn’t react negatively to it. For instance, if you’re using some natural oils like tea tree oil to treat your acne, try to avoid using a toner with salicylic acid, as both products are meant for the same purpose and might get in each other’s way; you don’t want your skin to be the battlefield.

An easy way to bypass these dangers is consulting a skincare expert or picking your products from the same line. This way you’ll know you are following the script and avoiding harmful improvisations.

How to Use a Toner?

Get to your toner after you’re done with the cleanser stage. Spray the toner directly on your face (if it’s a spray toner) or use a cotton pad to rub the liquid. Use circular movements for application.

If your skin is extra sensitive, you can skip the cotton pad and use a more gentle application method – your fingers. Make sure they are clean from any product, dirt and you have not touched anything that could be a host for bacteria.

Use face massages technique when applying the toner. Move the product from your chin to your cheeks to energize your blood circulation and the glands. Repeat the same movement from your forehead to your temples. Apply in circles on your cheeks, around the eyes (NOT the undereye area) and around the mouth. It’s a good cleansing and relaxing experience in one.

Remember that toners are not exclusively for face. If you’re going to use it on your facial skin, which is extremely sensitive, make sure you check the label. You can never apply a body toner on your face, it’s a taboo! But you can easily apply your face toner on your body.

If you don’t mind investing more funds into your skincare routine, get both products. I think it’s needless to state that if you notice redness or irritation after you’ve applied your toner, you need to stop using that product forever and ever. Have a second look at the ingredient list, and we guarantee you will find the reason there.

Note: If you are planning to use any face masks, do them before the toner. Your mask will make your pores open up so it can deliver all the goodies. You need to close the door after the delivery, and a toner can normalize the process.

Photos courtesy of Sephora

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