- Apply toner after cleansing to remove any leftover impurities and residue.
- Bracers, tonics and astringents are the three types of toners designed to benefit different skin concerns.
- Soothing toners containing chamomile and rose water are formulated for sensitive and dry skin.
- Ingredients such as retinol and niacinamide are designed to control oily and acne-prone skin.
With so many types of toners to choose from, it is important to understand your skin type so that you can select a toner that is the most effective for your specific concerns. It is equally important to know how to correctly use this product and how to incorporate this skin care step into your daily regimen.
Why Use a Toner?
Using a toner will provide many benefits in the long term.
Cleansers do not always remove all the dirt and oils from your face and sometimes they can leave behind a residue. A toner will remove all these remaining impurities and leave your face feeling clean and refreshed.
A normal pH level is essential for protecting the skin from bacteria and pollutants. Some cleansing agents can cause this level to become imbalanced, leading to sensitivity and dryness. A toner will help restore the pH balance.
Understanding the types of toners
There are three main types of toners: bracers, tonics and astringents. Each type is designed specifically to provide varying benefits depending on their main active ingredients.
Bracers, or fresheners, are mild, alcohol-free toners.
Bracers provide hydrating and soothing effects for the skin, and are therefore best suited for normal, dry or sensitive skin types. Rose water and glycerin are some ingredients used within bracers to calm and hydrate the skin.
Tonics contain slightly higher concentrations of active ingredients and may have a low percentage of alcohol content. Popular ingredients in skin tonics are natural extracts of orange and chamomile.
Tonics are suitable for both normal and oily skin types.
Astringents are the strongest type of toner within the group, as they contain a high percentage of alcohol. Antiseptic ingredients are also often found within astringents that are designed to treat acne.
Astringents can be harsh to skin and cause damage and irritation by stripping away the natural, protective oils.
Unless you have symptoms of acne, It is best to avoid astringents and instead opt for gentler bracers and tonics, especially if you experience dry or sensitive skin.
How to Apply Toner
It’s important to apply toner after cleansing and before using a moisturizer. This simple three-step routine will ensure you make the most out of your skin care products and achieve effective results.
Step 1: Wash your face with a gentle cleanser to remove initial impurities and oils from your skin.
Step 2: Apply toner to remove any remaining impurities and residue left from your cleanser; this will also properly prepare your skin for a moisturizer.
Step 3: Apply a moisturizer to hydrate and protect your skin; you may apply a serum first, if this is part of your regimen.
Use cotton pads
The most common way to apply toner to your face is through the use of a cotton ball or pad. To apply, moisten the cotton pad with a few drops of the toner so that it is damp, but not soaked. Begin with the centre of your face and gently sweep the cotton pad outward, avoiding the lips and delicate eye area.
It is also recommended to sweep the toner over your neck and décolletage, since impurities and oils can build up in these areas.
Mist or spritz
Some toners are packaged in spray bottles and are intended to be misted over the face. However, without a cotton pad it can be difficult to wipe away residue and impurities. Misting a toner over your face is only likely to dilute any buildup remaining on the skin.
Misting is therefore best suited for refreshing the skin or to provide additional moisture after you have used a cotton pad.
Use as an activator
Powdered versions of skin care ingredients, such as vitamin C, are increasing in use and popularity. They are designed to be activated with water and applied to the face; however you can replace the water with toner for additional skin benefits.
Use as an under-eye mask
If your toner contains skin refreshing ingredients such as caffeine or cucumber, you can use it as a quick and easy under-eye mask. Refrigerate your toner and apply to the under-eye area with cotton pads, as a soothing cold compress.
Do not use toners containing alcohol or high concentrations of exfoliating ingredients as an under-eye mask, since the skin in this area is particularly delicate.
When to Use Toner
Use a toner in the morning and in the evening after cleansing. Apply in the morning to help remove oils that have built up on the face overnight. In the evening, the toner will help to remove any lingering makeup, impurities and residue.
If you are using a toner with a high concentration of exfoliantes such as glycolic acid, it may only be necessary to use the product once a day. Overuse of exfoliants can cause irritation and dryness for all skin types, but especially for those prone to dryness or sensitivity.
Do’s and Don’ts of Toner Use
Toners can be beneficial when incorporated within your skin care routine and used correctly. However, applying them too often, or using toners with ingredients that are not suitable for your skin type can have detrimental effects.
Toners should not be used as a replacement for your cleanser. While they are able to remove impurities from the skin, they are most effective when used as a follow up to your cleanser.
If you are prone to skin sensitivity and experience irritation and dryness after the use of skin care products, it can be difficult to determine which ingredients are best to use.
Select a hypoallergenic toner that calms and hydrates skin. Calming toners with ingredients such as rose water and chamomile help to soothe symptoms of sensitive skin, including redness and irritation.
Don’t use alcohol and soap-based toners that may irritate and dry out your skin. Similarly, avoid toners with exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid, as they may lead to further dryness and irritation.
Oily skin is caused by excessive sebum production, a natural oil produced by the skin to protect and maintain moisture. If you have oily skin, select a toner that is able to control and reduce sebum levels.
Opt for a toner that contains vitamin A, also known as retinol. Retinol has been shown to effectively suppress sebum production, reducing the appearance of oiliness.
Alternatively, tea tree oil is a natural ingredient used in toners to help control excess oil.
Avoid the use of toners with comedogenic ingredients, such as mineral oil. These ingredients clog pores and lead to the formation of blackheads.
Dry skin can appear as rough or flaky patches on the face. It can occur naturally, or as a result of reactions from ingredients within cosmetics and skin care products.
Use hydrating toners that contain ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and urea. Hyaluronic acid acts as a moisture magnet, leaving skin feeling hydrated and plumped.
Urea is a hydrating humectant that allows the skin to preserve its moisture when used topically. Humectants are substances that reduce moisture loss, making them essential ingredients for those trying to treat symptoms of dry skin.
Do not use astringents or exfoliating toners that are likely to exacerbate the symptoms of dry skin.
If you have acne-prone skin, you may find that some products trigger flare ups and irritation. There are a number of toners that are specially formulated to treat the symptoms of acne.
Use toners with anti-inflammatory and clarifying properties. Aloe Vera and niacinamide are beneficial ingredients that can soothe the skin, while providing clarity to your complexion.
Aloe Vera is a natural ingredient often found within toners formulated to treat acne symptoms. Aloe Vera works by acting as an anti-inflammatory on the skin, making it effective in reducing the appearance of acne.
Niacinamide used to reduce the appearance of pores and blemishes by controlling sebum production and providing antimicrobial benefits.
Exfoliating toners are useful if you have acne-prone skin. However, overuse can lead to irritation, particularly if they contain harsh ingredients. In some cases, the overuse of exfoliants in an attempt to dry out the skin can cause skin to overcompensate and produce more oil.
When incorporated into your skin care routine, toners will balance out your skin’s pH and remove impurities. Use a toner as a second step in your routine, after your cleanser but before moisturizing.
Toners also contain a variety of active ingredients that are beneficial in treating a number of skin complaints, including dryness and acne. Select a toner that suits your skin type to achieve the best results.
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