- Face toners are used after cleansing and before moisturizing to remove any lingering residue and balance skin’s pH.
- Toners contain active ingredients that target a number of skin complaints, including oiliness, acne and dryness.
- Select a toner that is tailored to your skin type to ensure you achieve the best possible results.
Face toners are popular skin care products that work by removing impurities and oil from the skin, while improving the complexion.
Toners were first developed to balance out the skin’s pH after cleansing, although they now contain a variety of additional active ingredients to hydrate and clarify skin.
What Is a Face Toner?
A face toner is a water-based product formulated with active ingredients that may include natural plant extracts such as witch hazel and rose water. A facial toner is applied to the skin after cleansing and is not rinsed off.
Face toners can help address a number of skin issues, such as dryness, oiliness and acne. The effects of toners can vary depending on their formulation, therefore it is important to understand your skin type to achieve the best results.
Types of face toners
It can be difficult to select the perfect toner to work in harmony with your skin, since there are so many products available with a wide variety of benefits. Some products offer exfoliating effects for oily skin types, while others are formulated with ingredients to soothe sensitive skin.
|Exfoliating||Improves complexion, controls oil production and targets acne||Glycolic acid, Lactic acid|
|Calming||Reduces redness and provides relief for sensitive |
and irritated skin
|Aloe vera, Green tea|
|Hydrating||Adds moisture to dry skin||Cucumber extract, Hyaluronic acid|
Toners may often include antioxidants, such as vitamin C to help protect skin from damaging UV rays and environmental pollutants. Antioxidants help prevent the signs of skin aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.
What Are the Benefits of a Face Toner?
Face toners offer multiple benefits. They remove impurities and oil buildup that may remain on the skin after cleansing, plus any lingering residue from your cleanser. Toners can also be used to enhance your complexion and provide skin with additional moisture.
Toners are useful for balancing the skin’s natural pH levels. The skin’s surface is covered by a thin protective barrier, known as the acid mantle. It is slightly acidic to shield the skin from bacteria and irritation. The use of soaps and cleansers with a higher pH level than your skin can cause skin dryness and acne flare-ups.
Face toners also prepare skin for the application of moisturizers and serums, allowing their ingredients to be absorbed more effectively.
Toner vs. cleanser
Cleansers are designed to be used as an initial step in your skin care regime, clearing away makeup, impurities and oils.
A toner’s purpose is to remove any residue left from your cleanser, as well as any remaining impurities and oils. Additionally, it helps to tighten and reduce the appearance of pores. Toners are water-based liquids, often containing active ingredients to address a variety of skin complaints.
When to Use a Face Toner
Follow the recommended daily three-step process of using a cleanser, toner and moisturizer, to achieve clear, healthy-looking skin.
Begin with a cleanser to remove the majority of oils and impurities from your skin. Face toners should then be used as the second step in your routine. This will ensure your skin is clear from any remaining impurities and residue while providing an absorbent base for your moisturizer.
Gentle toners are designed to be used twice daily, in the morning and evening after cleansing. Those containing active exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid may only need to be used in the evening to prevent irritation from occurring.
How to Use a Face Toner
Face toners can be applied in a variety of ways, although the most common method is using a cotton balls to gently swipe the solution over your face and neck, starting from your nose and working outward.
Some toners are available in spray bottles, allowing them to be applied by simply misting the toner over the face and neck until the skin is adequately covered. However, applying a toner over the face with a cotton ball is more effective at removing impurities and oils from the skin.
Best Face Toner for Your Skin Type
Before selecting a toner, you will need to understand the individual requirements of your skin type.
If you’ve noticed dry skin, it is best to avoid exfoliating toners to prevent it from drying out further. Alternatively, if you have an oily skin type, it’s likely you’ll want to avoid toners that provide additional moisture to the skin.
Toners for dry skin
If you have dry skin, toners that are formulated to hydrate the skin can help reduce dryness and lock in moisture. Ingredients such as cucumber extract, glycerin and hyaluronic acid are often included within hydrating toners.
Hyaluronic acid has become a popular ingredient in moisturizers, serums and toners. It enhances the skin’s moisture content, leaving it feeling plumper and appearing smoother. Glycerin works in a similar manner, by attracting and locking in moisture within skin.
For those with dry skin, toners with exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) should be avoided. Exfoliating toners are best suited to oily skin types and may cause further dryness or irritation when used on dry skin.
Toners for oily skin
For those looking to control oily skin, exfoliating toners can reduce oil buildup and control sebum production. Sebum is a natural oil produced by the skin to keep it moisturized, however those with oily skin tend to produce an excessive amount.
AHAs are commonly used ingredients in toners to help remove excess oils and unclog pores. Glycolic and lactic acid are both AHAs that penetrate deep within the pores to clear out any trapped oils and dirt.
Alcohol-based toners are designed to tighten and dry oil skin. However, when used daily, they can be harsh on facial skin. Frequent use can cause skin irritation and excessive dryness, even for those with naturally oily complexions.
Alcohol-based toners should be using sparingly, however it may be best to avoid using them altogether, especially if you have sensitive skin. There are a variety of effective toners, without alcohol, that are specifically formulated to treat oily skin.
Toners for sensitive skin
It can be challenging to try out new skin care products when sensitive skin is an issue. Choose a calming toner developed with mild ingredients that can offer soothing results. Aloe vera and green tree extract are often used within toners targeted at sensitive skin, due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Those with sensitive skin should avoid alcohol-based toners as they can cause irritation and redness. Similarly, toners with added fragrances should also be avoided.
Toners for combination skin
Combination skin consists of both oily and dry sections. Oilier areas are typically within the T-zone, which includes the nose, forehead and chin. However, other sections of the face may appear dry or flaky.
If you have a combination skin type, it’s likely you will need to find a skin toner that achieves a balancing effect, offering both hydration and oil control.
Use a gentle toner with a low concentration of exfoliating ingredients, and one that includes salicylic acid and lactic acid. This will help control oilier areas without stripping too much oil from the drier areas of your face.
Avoid using toners with high concentrations of exfoliating ingredients if you have combination skin. Although these ingredients will treat the oily sections of your face such as the T-zone, irritation may occur in the normal-to-dry areas.
Toners for acne
Toners can also be used to treat acne-prone skin by clearing the skin of impurities and helping to control blemishes. Since acne is often caused by excess oil production, face toners developed to target acne often contain similar ingredients to those aimed at treating oily skin.
Tea tree oil is a natural ingredient often used within acne-targeting toners, as it offers antibacterial benefits. It has been found to be a safe and effective treatment for acne.
If you have acne-prone skin, it’s best to avoid toners that contain occlusive ingredients. These are ingredients that prevent water loss by creating a barrier on the skin. While this may be beneficial for those with a dry complexion, it can be damaging for acne-prone skin.
An example of a widely-used occlusive ingredients is mineral oil. Mineral oil offers many benefits for dry skin, such as increasing softness and strengthening the skin barrier, but not so for those with dry skin. It can cause impurities to become trapped in the skin, leading to clogged pores and acne flare-ups.
Face Toner Before and Afters
DIY Face Toners
Face toners can also be made at home with natural ingredients to achieve similar results.
When making your own DIY face toners, a patch test should be done beforehand. Apply the mixture to a discreet area of skin before using it on your face to ensure you do not have a negative skin reaction.
Also do a patch test before applying commercial toners that contain exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid, since they too can potentially cause irritation.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is often used as a natural toner for the skin. Combine one-part apple cider vinegar with two parts water to create your own toner.
This natural ingredient can help even out your skin tone by balancing the skin’s pH and reducing the appearance of acne.
Green tea extract is a popular ingredient in commercial toners, and you can also create your own version at home. Green tea has been shown to reduce sebum production when applied to the face.
Boil a few green tea bags or loose leaf tea in 1 cup of water (236 mL), then simply leave the water to cool. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil if you are trying to control oily skin or acne.
Rose plants contain antioxidants that protect the skin, and can provide anti-inflammatory effects. Rose water is a popular ingredient in cosmetics and is derived from the petals of the plant.
You can make your own rose water by boiling rose petals in 1 cup of distilled water for 30 minutes. Use as many petals as you feel necessary.
Face toners are a beneficial step in your skin care routine. They are effective at removing impurities from the skin, while offering additional benefits, including hydration and exfoliation.
The effects of toners can vary depending on their active ingredients, and there are a variety of products that are specifically formulated to target each individual skin type.
Dry skin types should opt for hydrating toners, while those with oily and acne-prone skin are best suited to oil-controlling and clarifying toners. By following a three-step regime of cleansing, toning and moisturizing, you can achieve the best results for your skin.
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