Do you avoid using toner in your skin care routine because of a bad experience you had years ago?
Thanks to modern science, technology, and the recent popularity of Korean skin care brands in the West, there are now lots of gentle and effective toner formulas to choose from. Peach & Lily, a K-beauty website, explains that Korean toners are meant to hydrate and balance the skin, which is the complete opposite of the typical American toner that strips the skin of essential moisture. Let’s talk about why you need a toner and what formulas you should be using.
What is a toner and why do you need one?
Basically, a toner is a liquid skin care product that is meant to be applied with a cotton pad or your fingers after you cleanse your face. They are usually gel, water, or liquid based and their primary intention is to balance the pH level of your skin. Why is this important? When you cleanse your skin, it becomes alkaline, instead of its normal pH of 5.5. This leaves it more susceptible to damage, aging, and even inflammation. The right to toner brings everything back into balance.
Not only that, but a toner will also prepare your face to absorb the active ingredients that are in the treatments (such as your serums and moisturizers) to follow. Using a toner will also ensure that you get every last trace of makeup, dirt, and oil off of your face because it will take away any residue that was left behind by your cleanser. As an added bonus, you can even choose a toner formula that contains beneficial active ingredients to hydrate the skin, reduce redness, gently exfoliate, and much more.
Just to recap, a toner can:
- Balance the pH level of your skin
- Provide essential moisture to reduce and prevent fine lines, wrinkles, and dullness
- Gently exfoliate
- Tighten and possibly even shrink your pores
- Soothe your skin and calm redness
Who should use a toner?
There are toner formulas out there to address just about every skin concern, so everyone that’s serious about caring for their skin should use one. Many people believe that toners should be reserved for acne prone or oily skin, but that’s just not the case. That is a belief that’s based on the harsh, alcohol-based, astringent style toners of the past.
Since a toner is meant to re-balance your skin after you wash your face, everyone should find a toner formula that suits their needs. The right toner will actually begin putting moisture back into the skin while it returns it to its proper pH level. That means your skin will more readily absorb all of your beautiful essences, serums, and creams. In order to get the most out of your other skin care treatments, you should always use a toner.
What is the best way to use a toner?
Once you’ve done your double cleanser, your face is ready for toner. Just place a few drops of toner onto a cotton pad or your fingertips. Swipe or pat it gently into your skin. Give it a few minutes to soak in before you begin applying your serums, essences, or moisturizers.
How do I know which toner I should be using?
Choosing the right toner for you is essential if you want to reap all of these fantastic benefits. The best toner for you may not work at all for someone else. In fact, you will probably want to switch up your toners based on what your skin needs at the time. You might even want to use a different toner for morning and evening, based on your skin care goals. Here is an overview of the different types of formulas out there and what they’re used for, to help you make the most informed decision.
Toners You Should Be Using If…
1. If you have acne prone or oily skin, don’t automatically assume the most astringent toner is best.
Most people with oily skin thing they need to find the most heavy duty, astringent toner to control the oil, but that’s just not the case. In fact, a harsh toner can actually strip your skin of essential oils and stimulate it to produce more oil, which is the exact opposite of what you want. Instead, you should be looking for a toner that contains ingredients like tea tree oil and aloe vera that will balance the oil production but still hydrate the skin.
Pore minimizing is also essential for oily skin, so your toner should give your skin a clear, matte finish without stripping it or making it overly dry. Botanical ingredients like witch hazel and sage and thyme extract are great ingredients to look for in a toner for this skin type. Also, look for fermented ingredients that will gently exfoliate the skin by dissolving away the top layer of dead skin to unclog pores.
2. If you have combination skin, you need a toner formulated to balance out the skin.
Combination skin can be a little more challenging because it often has different issues in different areas of the face. Most often, combination skin will be oily in the T-zone but dry on the cheeks and perimeter of the face. Korean beauty experts recommend a toner that livens up your skin with natural ingredients like maple sap, rice bran extract, and lavender. These ingredients will help to balance out the skin while leaving it at the perfect pH and moisture level.
3. If you have dry skin, look for a toner formulated with these ingredients to add moisture and life back into the skin.
People with dry skin tend to be very resistant to using toners because they think it will dry out their skin even more, but that’s not the case anymore. In fact, the right toner formula can actually gently exfoliate your skin to remove dead skin cells and give the skin a much brighter look. It can also add much-needed moisture and hydration back into the skin at the same time. Look for an extra gentle toner that is formulated with safe, natural ingredients. Glycerin, aloe vera, royal jelly, and honey will all be very beneficial to this skin type. Also, look for botanical extracts that can provide essential nutrients to the skin.
4. If you have aging skin, a toner fortified with moisturizing, anti-aging ingredients will be your new best friend.
If your skin is starting to show signs of age, you will be amazed at the beautiful things the right toner can do for your skin. The correct formula can help to fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation, prevent fine line lines and wrinkles, and even gently exfoliate to reveal the younger skin underneath. A toner with alpha hydroxy acids exfoliates, while beta hydroxy acids unclog the pores.
Lactic acid and glycolic acid are also extremely beneficial to this skin type. You should also look for hydrating ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid that will absorb quickly to plump up the skin, hydrate, and smooth without leaving skin looking greasy. Additionally, ingredients like peptides, rose water, chamomile extract, and B vitamins can help to soothe the skin, improve elasticity, and lock in moisture.
5. If you have sensitive skin, try a toner made with gentle ingredients that won’t cause irritation.
Yes! Even people with sensitive skin can, and should, use a toner. As with any other skin type, choosing the proper formula is crucial. Avoid using a toner that contains alcohol because it can cause irritation. Mineral oil should also be avoided because it can clog the skin and lead to breakouts. Soothing ingredients that will still balance the pH of your skin will be best. Look for squalene, jojoba oil, rose water, and vitamins. Peptides and vitamin E are great ingredients for improving elasticity without causing irritation. Hyaluronic acid and aloe are also great for sensitive skin because they calm and hydrate without causing redness or breakouts.
As you can see, there is a toner formula that will benefit just about any skin type. A little experimentation will be required to find the perfect toner for you, but now that you know what to look for, the process should be a little easier. You should even consider adding more than one toner into your routine so that you can customize it based on what your skin currently needs.
The bottom line is that a toner isn’t necessary; there are plenty of other skin care products that are vital for your skin, like cleansers, serums, and lotions. Establishing a routine of basic cleansing and moisturizing is most important and it is essential for the longevity of your skin’s health. However, toners provide an element that you can continuously mix into your routine for added benefit.