Whereas some consider facial toners to be part of the holy trinity of skin care—cleansing, toning, and moisturizing—others are baffled by it. It has developed something of a bad reputation in recent years as a product that’s unnecessary or even too harsh for many skin types. Personally, I find it surprising that anyone who puts any effort into a skin care routine would skip this step because the right toner can go a long way toward achieving healthy, radiant skin. And who doesn’t want that? Here’s how:
Keep Your Skin Clean and Balanced
Even if you think you’ve found the world’s greatest cleanser, traces of dirt, environment pollutants, makeup, oil, and excess soap will often remain after washing your face. Toner is often referred to as a second cleansing ritual for after face washing. The toner on your cotton ball removes any left-behind dirt with salicylic and glycolic acids, commonly found in acne treatments for powerful exfoliation. This makes toner particularly useful in the summer thanks to the sweat, sunscreen, chlorine, and salt water that can linger on your skin throughout the day. Search for a great all-around product that’s hardworking yet gentle and alcohol-free, such as Lancôme Tonique Douceur.
Fight Acne and Oily Skin
If you have acne-prone skin, toner can go a long way toward keeping your pores clean and breakouts under control. Products such as Murad Acne Complex Clarifying Toner can rebalance the skin’s pH, brighten up a dull complexion, and keep oil production manageable. Don’t confuse toners with astringents, which are often made with alcohol or other harsh chemicals and are meant to dry out oily skin in order to prevent breakouts. Toner, on the other hand, has a balancing effect and usually contains humectants, ingredients that lock in the skin’s natural moisture.
Maintain Moisturized, Youthful Skin
Keeping your skin properly moisturized is also one of the first steps to fighting the aging process, as chronically dry skin can lose elasticity and a soft texture—though of course you don’t want a product with a heavy oil that’s going to cause you to break out. A toner such as Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Refining Tonic will help shrink your pores (immediately after use, not permanently) and add an additional line of defense against blemish-causing environmental contaminants. On a similar note, it can also help lighten dark spots and existing blemish scars.
Reduce Redness and Sensitivity
Even those with sensitive skin who believe toner to be too drying and irritating will notice a marked improvement with the right product. Something like Dior Gentle Toning Lotion with Velvet Peony Extract or Caudalie Beauty Elixir can keep dry skin moisturized and help lessen redness and puffiness. Anyone with sensitive skin should also keep in mind that toner is not just beneficial for the face and can be used on healing sunburns, razor burn, and to prevent ingrown hairs.
If you haven’t found success with toner in the past, perhaps you haven’t been using the right product. The key is finding a toner that suits your skin type and has ingredients that are not irritating. When in doubt, always seek advice from your dermatologist.