What Does Toner Do For Your Skin?

Written by Arshiya Syeda

Having an extensive skin care routine is a luxury of time not many can afford. A lot of us make do with just the simple cleanse-and-moisturize beauty routine. But if you have started noticing dullness on your face, you may want to make skin toner a part of your beauty regimen.

Applying this liquid to your face takes only a few minutes and gives you a plump glow, along with other benefits. If you are wondering what a toner is or how to use one, here are some important things you must know about this skin care product.

​ What Is A Face Toner?

A face toner is a water-like liquid that is used between cleansing and moisturizing. A skin toner’s purpose is to remove dead cells from your skin and provide hydration. It also acts as a primer for other products.

So other than deep cleansing, what does toner do for your skin? Find out the other benefits of this product below.

Benefits Of Face Toner

While more research is required to confirm the benefits of toners, anecdotal evidence suggests that this product can improve your skin health in many ways. Let’s see why the beauty community insists on adding toners to your skin care routine.

1. Removes Impurities

The most important benefit of a face toner is its deep cleansing properties. It helps you remove not just excess oil or sebum but also dirt, dead skin cells, and makeup. A skin toner will wash away stubborn impurities that do not get removed by your cleanser, leaving behind a squeaky clean face.

2. Increases The Efficacy Of Other Products

As stated earlier, facial toners are known to act as primers for other skin care products. The pH-balancing properties of a skin toner result in better absorption and penetration of creams and serums. This is why it helps in improving the efficacy of your moisturizer or other products.

3. Reduces Visibly Large Pores

The use of toner can improve your skin texture over time, leading to smaller pores. Toners with glycolic acids are said to be great for reducing large, prominent pores as they wipe away dirt and dead cells around a pore, thus making it less visible.

4. Protects The Skin

A toner can protect your skin from acne, inflammation, and infections by removing grime, sebum, and oil. Repeated use will also cause your pores to shrink and reduce the chances of impurities getting into your skin.

5. Anti-Aging Benefits

With all the above benefits combined, your skin will be healthier and show lesser signs of aging. Facial toners that contain alpha hydroxy acids can minimize fines lines and hyperpigmentation. Smaller pores also give your face a more youthful look.

Now that you know what toner does for your face, check out the next section to understand how to use toner correctly to make the most of it for your skin.

How To Apply Face Toner

For best results, soak a cotton ball with the toner of your choice and gently blot your face. This applies to all types of skin toner. If you need a quicker application, many toners come in spray bottle packaging. In that case, just spritz it all over your face.

Ideally, a skin toner is applied after washing your face and before moisturizing it. However, if you want to skip the moisturizer, you can choose a gentle and hydrating skin toner that does both jobs well.

Apply any serum after toning as the product will penetrate deeper into your skin. After applying toner, your skin is also primed for makeup and will make the application smoother.

Find out how often you should use a toner in the next section.

How Often Should You Use Face Toner?

A facial toner is safe to be used almost every day. However, how often you use face toner depends on your skin type or concerns.

Generally, people with normal skin can use it daily, but other skin types may use it depending on how their skin reacts to it. As such, it is advisable to start with applying it once every alternate day to see how your skin reacts and then eventually build up the frequency to every day or twice daily.

The type of toner you use may also impact the results of the product on your skin. Therefore, make sure to choose a facial toner that suits your skin type. A soothing and hydrating toner can be safely used up to twice a day.

Let’s answer an important question.

Are Face Toners Suitable For All Skin Types?

Yes, a face toner is suitable for all skin types. But, every skin type or skin concern should be addressed with the correct type of toner.

Reading the ingredients label is of utmost importance while buying a face toner suitable for your skin. Here are some ingredients to look for while choosing the best skin toner for your skin type:

  • Oily Skin: Choose a skin toner with alpha and beta hydroxy acids such as lactic acid, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid. These will help remove all the excess oil and dead cells from your skin. According to anecdotal evidence, they can also decrease the appearance of large pores.
  • Dry Skin: Dry skin is more prone to damage by a wrong toner. Look for a toner with hyaluronic acid, which is an excellent humectant. This will replenish your parched skin and soothe it. Other ingredients like glycerine, aloe vera, chamomile, and cucumber are also some good options to look for. Stay away from alcohol and witch hazel if you have dry skin.
  • Dull Skin: If you want to get rid of dullness, anecdotal evidence suggests choosing a face toner with natural salicylic acid. It is gentle and will help in reducing the pore size. Vitamin C is also known to give a glow to your face.
  • Sensitive Skin: A gentle toner that contains rose water, aloe vera, or chamomile can soothe sensitive skin and aid deep cleansing. Hyaluronic acid will also be a great addition as it keeps the skin hydrated.
  • Acne-Prone Skin: Acne is caused mainly due to excess oil, so look for ingredients like zinc, witch hazel, or tea tree extracts. This will help in reducing excess acne breakouts, redness, and skin irritation.

Face toners are generally safe to use and work on all skin types. But, can you use this product after hair removal treatments? Read the next section to find out.

Is A Toner Safe For My Face Even After Hair Removal?

Generally, face toners are safe for application after treatments like waxing, epilating, shaving, etc. Even after hair removal procedures like laser, it is often okay to use a skin toner on your skin.

However, keep in mind that the toner must contain naturally soothing ingredients or be gentle in its formulation for post-shaving or post-laser treatment. Make sure it does not contain ingredients like retinol, alcohol, or vitamin C. These ingredients can cause irritation or penetrate deeper to cause dryness.

A facial toner best suited for post-shaving application would be witch hazel. It is a natural ingredient and will give your skin a soothing effect after shaving, especially if you have sensitive skin.

To avoid any adverse reaction, irritation, or breakouts, it is advised that you carry out a small patch test on your arm before you apply toner all over your face. If the patch test does not cause visible redness or irritation, you can safely apply it to your face.

Next, let’s explore the major difference between astringent and skin toner.

What Is The Difference Between A Toner And An Astringent?

The traditional facial toner was also known as an astringent. While it did do the same work, it was quite unpopular for the resulting dryness. The reason was the content of alcohol in this product.

An astringent is made up of solvent alcohols. These alcohol formulations are great for oily skin but over-drying for others. An astringent can be exceptionally harsh for sensitive skin, owing to its drying abilities. Examples of an astringent are rubbing alcohol, distilled vinegar, silver nitrate, etc.

On the other hand, new-age skin toners are formulated with more gentle ingredients. They contain lesser amounts of alcohol or may also come in an alcohol-free formulation, making them suitable for most skin types. A face toner is safe for everyday use, whereas an astringent can make your skin dry and flaky if used daily.

Thus, it is advisable to use an astringent for bug bites, irritation, and fungal infections. For daily use, a skin toner is a better choice.

Closing Thoughts

A good skin toner makes all the difference in any skin care routine – provided you choose the right one for your skin type.

Once you add the right facial toner to your routine, start off slow and eventually build up the usage. Don’t forget to follow up your skin toner with a good moisturizer or sunscreen if you plan to venture out.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Are toners really necessary?

Although not necessary, skin toners make it easier for your skin to absorb other skincare products, protect your skin, and minimize pores.

Is it bad to use toner every day?

Although traditional toners stripped away moisture from the skin, newer ones are gentle on the skin and can be used every day. Regardless, it is best to consult your dermatologist for advice on picking a face toner according to your skin type.


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  1. Hydroxy Acids the Most Widely Used Anti-aging Agents
  2. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging

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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).