- Toners restore skin’s pH level, provide hydration and treat acne symptoms.
- Use a toner after cleansing to remove any remaining impurities and residue.
- Vitamin E and glycerol are ingredients that treat dry and sensitive skin.
- Salicylic acid and tea tree oil are best suited for oily or acne-prone skin.
Skin toners offer multiple benefits including the ability to remove impurities and residue that may remain after cleansing, leaving skin feeling refreshed. Several formulations are available and are designed to target your specific skin care concerns.
Is Skin Toner Necessary?
Toners are a necessary step in an effective skin care routine, as they ensure all impurities, residue and excess oils are wiped clean from the face. Toners also have a number of additional benefits to address all skin types and age groups.
Benefits of Using a Skin Toner
Restores skin pH
Skin naturally has a slightly acidic pH balance to protect it from pollutants and bacteria. However, some cleansing agents can create an imbalance in the pH level, leaving skin irritated. The slightly acidic level of pH found within toner will adjust your skin’s natural pH level and leave skin feeling comfortable and hydrated.
Toners that are specially formulated to treat the symptoms of acne contain a variety of powerful, active ingredients, including niacinamide, glycolic and salicylic acid. These ingredients help to control oil production, reduce the appearance of blemishes and brighten the complexion.
Ingredients that prevent moisture loss from the skin are known as humectants and are often found within toners. They are especially useful if you suffer from dry skin symptoms, as they help to lock in moisture and prevent dryness.
Prepares the skin for moisturizer
Toner removes all lingering residue and purifies the skin. Moisturizer is then better able to penetrate more effectively into skin.
Side Effects of Skin Toners
Toners are intended to be used twice daily, in the morning and evening. Therefore, if you overuse these products you risk irritating your skin. This is especially true for formulations with active ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids, used to exfoliate the skin.
Dry patches of skin and redness are common complaints due to overuse; those with acne-prone skin may experience breakouts.
If your skin feels dry and tight after using a toner, stop using the product and find one better suited to your skin. There are many products available that are specifically formulated for varying skin concerns – such as dry or sensitive skin.
Should you experience any redness of skin after using a toner, look to the benefits of soothing anti-inflammatory gel to help reduce the appearance of redness, and relieve discomfort. Aloe vera and colloidal oatmeal are two ingredients used to calm skin.
Inflammation and itching
Inflammation and itching are usually a reaction to harsh exfoliating ingredients, or an allergy to the products ingredients. Wash your face immediately and apply a hydrocortisone cream to reduce itchiness; an oral antihistamine would help ease the inflammation.
If you experience a breakout after using a toner, the ingredients are probably not suitable for your skin type. Make sure to use cleansers and moisturizers that are formulated specifically for acne-prone skin.
However, breakouts can also occur as a result of “skin purging.” This process occurs when new products are used that encourage a faster cell turnover, such as exfoliating toners. The increased cell turnover causes impurities and blockages deep within the skin to be pushed to the surface, resulting in pimples and breakouts.
If your acne worsens or does not improve after using a new product for several weeks, your breakouts are likely due to unsuitable ingredients and are not a result of skin purging.
How to Choose a Skin Toner
Select a toner that contains ingredients designed to work effectively with your skin type. The four major skin types are:
- Dry skin has difficulty retaining moisture, resulting in rough and flaky patches.
- Normal skin is well balanced; it has a smooth texture with no blemishes.
- Oily skin produces excessive amounts of sebum; skin appears shiny, with visible pores
- Combination skin has a mix of both dry and oily areas.
There are three main variations of face toner, each developed with ingredients to suit these four skin types: bracers, tonics and astringents.
Bracers are the mildest form of toner, comprised of water and humectant ingredients such as glycerol. These alcohol-free, soothing toners are best suited to those with dry or sensitive skin, providing hydration and soothing benefits.
Ingredients to look for:
- Rose water – known for its skin-soothing properties.
- Glycerol – attracts moisture to the skin, prevents moisture loss and shields the skin from environmental stressors.
- Vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant, with moisturizing and healing benefits; protects against UV damage.
Tonics are medium-strength toners, usually containing small quantities of alcohol. Lactic acid, orange flower extract and glycolic acid are often included to gently exfoliate and refresh the skin. Tonics are used on normal, combination and oily skin types.
Ingredients to look for
- Orange extract – contains citric acid, and acts as a natural exfoliant. It refreshes the skin and controls acne symptoms by gently exfoliating. The added bonus of vitamin C within orange extract also provides antioxidant effects, protecting the skin from UV rays.
- Glycolic acid – exfoliates to reveal brighter skin; reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation caused by acne or sun damage.
- Lactic acid – is a milder exfoliant than glycolic acid; used to treat hyperpigmentation and improve clarity.
Astringents remove excess oils from the skin and unclog blocked pores. They are the strongest type among the three toners and typically contain high percentages of alcohol and active ingredients.
Antiseptic ingredients are also a common ingredient, making them a suitable choice for those with acne-prone skin. These powerful toners should be used a maximum of once per day, as they have been found to overdry the skin by stripping it of its beneficial oils.
If you experience dry or sensitive skin, you should avoid using an astringent toner altogether.
Ingredients to look for
- Witch hazel – is a natural astringent and an anti-inflammatory that tightens pores and reduces their appearance; a good choice for those with oily skin.
- Tea tree – is known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects and is used to reduce the inflammation caused by acne, while protecting the skin from infection.
- Salicylic acid – dissolves impurities and buildup from within pores, and is therefore especially beneficial for those who experience blackheads and whiteheads. Regular use of this powerful exfoliating ingredient will contribute toward a brighter, clearer complexion.
How Do You Know Your Skin Toner Is Working?
You may notice and feel the benefits of a toner immediately, with your skin feeling cleansed and refreshed.
However, after 1 to 2 weeks of daily use, your skin will begin to appear softer and smoother. Additionally, your skin may appear more clear and bright.
For those with sensitive skin, redness may reduce in appearance over time when using toners with skin-soothing ingredients.
Oily skin types may notice a reduced appearance in their pore size, due to the toner’s ability to remove excess oil and impurities from within and around the pores.
Dry skin will feel more hydrated and plumped, if an active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid is present within the toner.
Toners are valuable for clearing the skin of impurities and residue, while offering a host of additional benefits. From brightening your complexion to helping clear away acne, there are toners for every skin type.
Using toners incorrectly may result in side effects such as dryness, irritation and acne flare-ups. Avoid irritating side effects by selecting a toner suitable for your individual skin type, with ingredients that work in harmony with your skin.
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