Facial Toners and Their Benefits in Your Skincare Routine

Medically CitedMedically Cited Fact Check Fact Checkedby Reviewed by CHD TeamUpdated: Jul-10-2024
We break down every single thing you need to know about toner. Discover the best facial toners here!
Facial Toners

You may be wondering: if a toner doesn't tone, what does it do? Shutterstock Images

Many people with a good skincare routine include facial toners as the second step. However, most of them don’t realize its function and uses it out of habit. That’s totally fine. But wouldn’t it help to know the real reasons for using them? That’s what we plan to share in this article.

What is a Facial Toner?

A facial toner pertains to a quick-absorbing liquid applied to the face after washing and before moisturizing. Historically, it was intended to balance skin pH after washing the face with ordinary soap. But even with the advent of facial cleansers that are gentler and more pH-balanced, toners are still being popularly used and they now come in various types that provide different benefits suited to different skincare needs.

Facial toners are often mistaken for astringents, but the difference between the two actually lies on their alcohol content. Astringents are formulated with alcohol, while toner may or may not contain alcohol. This means the toners are generally milder for the skin and not overly drying. Unlike astringents, they can be used for sensitive skin. Furthermore, astringents are mostly recommended for minor skin irritations and infections.

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What Does Face Toner Do & Why Should You Use One?

Facial toners are used to thoroughly clean the skin by removing excess impurities left on the face after washing. They provide an extra cleansing effect particularly after wearing heavy makeup or heavy skincare products like sunblock creams. They also function to balance the skin’s pH and get rid of dead skin cells.

By doing so, they become very beneficial for problematic skin, particularly for oily and acne-prone skin. Lastly, they also prep the skin to receive and maximize the absorption of other skin care products applied on the face after them.

Ingredients You Should Look for in Facial Toners

As mentioned, facial toners come in different types and feature different ingredients according to the skin type it tends to address. In general, however, the most sought-after ingredients include:

Witch Hazel Extract - Derived from the leaves, bark, and twigs of the witch hazel plant, this extract is commonly added in astringents and toners. As an astringent[1], it helps soothes irritated skin. As a toner, it helps get rid of excess oils without drying the skin.

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHA) - A group of organic acids which include glycolic acid and lactic acid as the most popular ones. They are known for their effective peeling effects[2], making them useful in the treatment of acne[3], melasma[4], and hyperpigmentations[5]. AHA toners are often recommended for large pores that are even made more prominent by the dead cells that accumulate around the area.

Salicylic Acid - A type of beta-hydroxy acid often recommended for acne-prone skin[6] due to its excellent ability to exfoliate skin[7], dissolve impurities, and unclog/purify pores[8]. It comes in varying strengths, but it is advised to start with a lower concentration first because this compound can be pretty harsh to the skin.

Hyaluronic Acid - Improves and retains skin moisture[9], making it effective in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves skin firmness and elasticity[10].

Aloe Vera - Has a long history of medicinal use due to its potent antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties (source). It is known to be effective in mild superficial acne (source), but not so much in severe or cystic acne.

Do Facial Toners Really Work?

Toners are very helpful especially for oily and acne-prone skin. There are effective in unclogging pores and allowing your skin to absorb much of the good stuff from your other skincare products.

However, take note every person requires an individualized skincare regimen so as always, it is best to consult your dermatologist to determine which facial toners will work best for your skin.

How to Choose the Best Facial Toner?

Choosing the best facial toner must be based on your skin type but in general, you must pick one that’s alcohol-free. For acne-prone skin, the recommended facial toners are those that contain AHAs or salicylic acid.

AHAs are gentle enough to clean this skin type. Salicylic acid, meanwhile, can be a bit harsh so consultation with a dermatologist is a must to determine the most appropriate concentration for you.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve gained more information about toners, you might be asking whether you really need them or not. We say... definitely! Using facial toners is a great way to ensure that your face is thoroughly cleaned, but they should not serve as a substitute for washing your face.

One must think of them as an adjunct rather than a shortcut to a good skincare routine.

**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available informations and our estimation of efficacy.

*Result may vary. The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purpose. No medical claims are implied in this content, and the information herein is not intended to be used for self diagnosis or self treatment of any condition.

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