To tone, or not to tone? That is the question.
Hamlet was onto something. 😜
Toner is arguably one of the least understood (and probably one of the least properly used) products in skincare. When, in fact, toner is a secret skincare weapon.
Toners are meant to gently refresh your skin without stripping it of its natural moisture, minimize the appearance of pores, help rid skin of excess impurities and oil, and prep your skin for the rest of your products, allowing them to absorb more easily.
MYTH: Toners are all drying astringents.
When most people think of toner, they think of those alcohol-based, outdated formulas. These old formulas tended to cause dryness, irritation or even stinging—which has given toners a bad reputation.
“Alcohol actually dries your skin out, which makes issues like acne even worse,” says Coco Pai, a licensed esthetician with over 25 years of experience and the owner of CoCo Spa in San Francisco, CA.
It's best to look for toners with gentle ingredients, such as Aloe Vera leaf juice and herbal extracts. When choosing a toner, it’s important to avoid ones with alcohol, benzoyl peroxide, fragrances, phthalates and parabens.
MYTH: Toners are only for people with oily skin.
On the market there are many different options for toners, and for every skin type. Different toners target specific and different skin concerns, such as dryness, aging, sensitivity, and acne.
They can help prevent premature aging and smooth the skin—making it look more firm and youthful.
MYTH: Toner isn’t really necessary for healthy skin.
Many people tend to think that they're better off without a toner, but adding a toner is a great way to take your skincare routine to the next level.
Toners help balance your skin’s pH, which is important for overall skin health.
Beyond balancing pH, toners have many benefits—such as soothing irritation and protecting skin from outside irritants.
MYTH: If you use a cleanser, toners aren’t necessary.
Toners help remove impurities and traces of dirt, grime and makeup that are still present on the skin after cleansing. Toners also prep skin for maximum absorption of treatments that follow (like serums and moisturizers) which work best on a clean palette.
Traditionally, toner goes on after cleansing and before moisturizing. It's best to use it when skin is still a little damp so it absorbs better. Toner is applied by sweeping it on using a cotton pad. Some prefer to pat it on like a serum, which works too!