The Essential Role of Face Toners in Your Skincare Regimen

When it comes to achieving a dewy, flawless complexion, face toners are often the secret weapon of skin routines. For many, toners are already an essential part of their daily regimen, but there are still plenty of people who don’t understand or appreciate exactly what it is toner can do for your skin. So what does toner do for your face? Allow us to explain.

What is a Face Toner?

Toner is a liquid skincare product designed to be swiped or spritzed onto the face after cleansing but before moisturising. It can be infused with many different ingredients to imbue it with different properties, so it’s something that all skin types can appreciate.
The primary purpose of face toners is to provide a deeper cleanse, restore the skin's natural pH levels, and enhance the absorption of subsequent skincare products.

What Does Face Toner Do?

Balancing skin pH levels

The skin’s natural pH is slightly acidic, and cleansers can sometimes disrupt this balance. Toners help restore the skin’s natural pH, keeping it in prime condition for the rest of your skincare routine. A balanced pH is crucial because it supports the skin barrier, which protects against damage and bacteria. Your pH being out of balance can lead to your skin becoming dry, irritated, and more prone to breakouts.

Removing dirt and makeup

No matter how well you cleanse your face, traces of dirt, oil, and makeup can stick around on your skin. Toners act as a second cleanse, ensuring these residual impurities are effectively removed, leaving the skin clean and refreshed. By wiping away any stubborn residue, toners help keep pores clear and skin healthy.

Tightening pores

Some toners contain ingredients that can make the skin feel tighter (AKA more toned) and reduce the appearance of pores. These toners help to manage oil production and exfoliate the skin, further reducing the appearance of enlarged pores.

Prepping the skin for other products

Toners hydrate and soften the skin, creating the perfect canvas for serums and moisturisers. When the surface of your skin is damp it’s more permeable - this means that the active ingredients in your skincare products can penetrate deeper and work more effectively.

Types of Toners

When asking what is toner for, you need to consider the wide range of toners available on the market, each with its own targeted audience and skin type. Understanding these variations can help you choose the right toner for your specific needs.

Hydrating toners

Hydrating toners are formulated to provide an extra layer of moisture to the skin. They are especially beneficial for dry, sensitive, or dehydrated skin, but can be used by all skin types to boost hydration levels. Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe vera are often found in hydrating toners. These components help attract and retain moisture, leaving the skin plump, dewy and hydrated.

Exfoliating toners

Exfoliating toners contain active ingredients that help wash away dead skin cells. Regular use can improve skin texture and tone. Acid toners are particularly good at this. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid are popular exfoliants in toners. AHAs are water-soluble and work on the skin's surface, while BHAs are oil-soluble and penetrate deeper to unclog pores.

Astringent toners

Astringent toners are designed to tighten the skin and reduce oiliness. Those with acne-prone skin might use them to help limit excess sebum production. While effective for controlling oil, astringent toners can be more drying than other toners, and may not be suitable for sensitive, irritated skin.

Soothing toners

Soothing toners are formulated to reduce redness, irritation, and inflammation. They are ideal for sensitive or reactive skin types, providing relief and comfort, or for cooling down your face in hot weather. Ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, and calendula are known for their calming effects. These components help soothe irritated skin and promote a balanced, healthy complexion when used in toner.

Benefits of Using Toners

What does toner do to your face? Just about everything.

  • Deep cleansing - Toners provide an additional cleansing step, removing makeup and dirt that cleansers might miss.
  • Maintaining balance - They help restore and maintain the skin’s natural pH, which is crucial for a healthy skin barrier.
  • Enhancing absorption - Prepping the skin for better absorption ensures that serums and moisturisers can work more effectively.
  • Minimising pores - Toners can tighten and refine pores, giving the skin a smoother appearance.
  • Hydrating - Toners add an extra layer of moisture, the likes of which is essential for plump, glowing skin.
  • Calming - Soothing toners can reduce redness and irritation, providing comfort to sensitive skin - plus, scented toners can also act as a form of aromatherapy.

Choosing the Right Toner

Understanding your skin’s unique properties is the first step towards finding a toner that will enhance your skincare regimen, not detract from it.

Factors to consider based on skin type

  • Oily skin - Look for astringent toners with ingredients like salicylic acid to control oil and prevent breakouts.
  • Dry skin - Opt for hydrating toners with hyaluronic acid to boost moisture levels.
  • Combination skin - Reach for balancing toners that address both oily and dry areas without over-drying or over-hydrating.
  • Sensitive skin - Try soothing toners with calming ingredients like aloe vera or chamomile to reduce irritation and redness.

Factors to consider based on skin concern

  • Acne - Exfoliating toners with AHAs can help keep pores clear and prevent breakouts.
  • Signs of ageing - Hydrating and exfoliating toners with anti-ageing ingredients like glycolic acid can promote cell turnover and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
  • Hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone - Toners with brightening ingredients like vitamin C or niacinamide can help to even out skin tone and reduce dark spots.

How to Use Toners

Incorporating toner into your skincare routine is simple and can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your other products.

When to apply toner

Toners should be applied immediately after cleansing. This will help to catch anything left on your skin that your cleanser failed to remove. They can be used as part of your morning and evening routines, and - depending on the ingredients and whether or not you’re wearing makeup - spritzed throughout the day.

Application techniques

Toner can be gently swiped over your face with a cotton pad, or dabbed into the hands and gently patted into your skin. Depending on the toner dispenser, it can also sometimes be sprayed or misted.

Expert Recommendations

Dermatologists explain that toners work well as a gentle way of introducing active ingredients to skin, but that people without any major skin concerns may not necessarily see any benefit to using them other than simple hydration. As always, if you begin using a toner and experience any irritation or redness, stop using the product until side-effects abide. If irritation continues, consider consulting an expert.

Get toned

If you think you’d appreciate a toning tonic to add some freshness to your face, why not browse our range of toners?