You’ve heard that using a toner is an important skin care step, but what exactly does it do? If you’re perplexed, you’ve come to the right place. We’re breaking down what a toner is, why you need to use one and which toner is right for you.
Toners are typically associated with drying, alcohol-based formulas that remove grease from your skin — along with every last bit of moisture. Luckily, toners have come a long way. In addition to astringent properties, the newest generation of toners and facial mists provide hydration, balance skin and treat a wide range of skin concerns and conditions. Dermatologist and MD Rebecca Kazin tells Women's Health: "Historically toners were used as a way to balance the pH of the skin after using an alkaline soap product for cleansing." But today, since our cleansers tend to be more pH balanced and less harsh, toners have evolved to not only balance the natural pH of the skin but also infuse it with natural vitamins and minerals.
Balances pH Levels
Toner is often applied after the cleansing step to ensure that the skin’s pH levels are balanced. As Healthline states: “ ... some soaps and cleansers are alkaline in nature. Using a product with a very different pH level to your skin can disrupt its usual functions, potentially leading to dryness, oiliness, or irritation.” Alternatively, if your skin is too acidic you may break out. That’s where a toner comes in as it serves to balance out your pH levels and provide equilibrium to your skin.
Provides An Extra Thorough Cleanse
Even after using a cleanser, you might still need to remove any remaining sebum, makeup or dirt, and a toner can help with that. Toners complete the cleansing process by lifting away any last traces of makeup your cleanser failed to remove. These fast-absorbing liquids remove lingering impurities and replenish the skin with the necessary moisture.
Helps Absorb Products To Come
By balancing your skin, removing remaining impurities and replenishing the complexion, the toner step preps your skin to absorb the products you apply afterwards. Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar refers to toning as the “conditioning” step of your skin care routine. The right toner balances your complexion and provides a base layer of hydrating foundation to prep your skin for the steps that follow.
With ingredients like chamomile, lavender and comfrey root, toners with natural formulations can also provide nutrients as an additional benefit. For example, our collection of toners and mists are blended with fresh juices and extracts that treat concerns from uneven skin tone to dryness, leaving the skin feeling revitalized.
Accidentally Picking The "Wrong" Toner
You may have a fear of picking the “wrong” toner based on the history of toners. The first toners to hit the beauty world in the 90s to late 00s were known for being too harsh on the skin due to their extremely high alcohol content. However, toners have since evolved from their drying predecessors to well-formulated tonics. Eminence Organic toners only contain beneficial antioxidants, soothing agents and hydrating ingredients. These components serve to enhance the skin’s surface, helping it look fresher, smoother, and more hydrated. Toners are a necessary step to balance your skin after a cleanse and prep your skin for the products that follow.
You Want A Simplified Routine
Toning may feel like yet another added step to your routine, but it plays a crucial role in a complete skin care regimen. We recommend that you include a toner in your usual routine, but you can definitely adapt to a simplified routine during busy periods. You may not be able to use a toner for every skin care session when you're taking a pared-back approach, and that's fine. Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar shares a stripped-down routine for those busy days — watch and find out more.
You’re Concerned With Sensitive Skin
Trying out new products is always a concern for sensitive skin types. Nevertheless, a wide variety of toners (and even exfoliating toners) exist with gentle ingredients that are kind to sensitive or reactive skins. As with any skin care product, it is always best to patch test before using a new product and to consult with a dermatologist if you have any concerns about using toners.
There are hundreds of toners on the market and it can be intimidating to determine the right one for you. Toners serve different purposes, which can be categorized as hydrating, exfoliating, or astringent. It's worth noting that different toners are suited to different skin types and concerns, so their classifications should be a consideration when you’re deciding which toner to use.
It’s no surprise that hydrating toners contain humectant (water-attracting) ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Humectant ingredients are effective at holding onto water and make it harder for moisture to evaporate. You might typically find this type of toner in the form of a refreshing mist or spray.
Exfoliating toners contain a small percentage of AHA, BHA or PHA ingredients to brighten the complexion and improve a dull skin tone. Typically these toners help to clear away dead cells from the skin’s surface, which leaves the skin's appearance softer and smoother.
If you have oily skin, astringent toners can help get rid of excess oil. Astringent toners with botanicals can include natural ingredients like citrus fruits oils or juices to remove oil and help reduce the appearance of pores. For normal to oily skin types, spritzing on an astringent toner balances the skin and readies it for the day.
In addition to using toners as part of your daily and nightly skin care routine, Eminence Organics International Trainer Jude Herrera says toners can also be refresh the skin or set your makeup.
If you’re wondering when to apply a toner during your skin care routine, it should be applied immediately after cleansing your skin, morning and night. In terms of application, typically, toner is applied by sweeping it on with a cotton pad. You can also apply toner with clean hands and swipe it on. Applying a toner when your skin is still slightly damp allows for its active ingredients to absorb more efficiently. This should help prep your skin for the rest of your products.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Toner?
Toners are essential for revealing fresh, revitalized-looking skin all year long. After cleansing, they balance the pH level of the skin and target a variety of skin care concerns.
What Does A Balancing Toner Do For Your Face?
Toners improve the skin after your cleansing step by balancing the skin’s pH. Balanced skin allows for better absorption of enriching ingredients from subsequent products that you use, such as serums and moisturizers.
Is It Okay To Use A Toner Every Day?
Yes, you can use a toner every day. Both hydrating and refreshing, face toners are the perfect complexion pick-me-up for everyday use.
Should You Moisturize After A Toner?
After toning, it’s important to include a moisturizing step at some point in your skin care routine to lock in moisture and minimize dryness.
Use our Spa Locator to find your nearest Eminence Organics spa and find the best toner for you. And, let us know in the comments below, or on social media, which product you find works best for your skin type.
This post was originally written in June 2019.