Understanding your skin type is the basis of building any skincare routine. Skin types include normal, dry, oily, combination, acneic, and mature. These 6 types should be the guide for which ingredients, products, and treatments that your skin can work with. One product that varies in popularity and uses is toner. Toner is a classic skincare staple that many people can’t decide if they actually need or not. The 10-Step Korean skincare routine has a place for it, some derms are coming out saying that it’s not a vital step, beauty YouTubers claim it’s the golden key to perfect skin. All of these mixed opinions on toner can be solved with a few small pieces of information. Mainly, that there are actually 3 types of toner that we can use.
Fresheners or cleansing lotions are a type of toner that contains the lowest amount of alcohol. These fresheners are marketed in many different ways but are intended to be used as a regular toner – after cleansing and before any serums or moisturizers. Due to the low alcohol content, these products are ideal for dry or mature skin, and sometimes sensitive skin. Keep an eye on the ingredients because often times fresheners contain a lot of extracts and fragrance that may irritate sensitive skin. My favorite freshener, or cleansing lotion, is the Mario Badescu Seaweed Cleansing Lotion, it gave my skin a nice boost of hydration and kept my skin healthy and clear. If you can manage it, I’d highly recommend applying fresheners with your hands and not any cotton or paper products. Not only is this practice environmentally aware, but it will save you money in the long run since you’ll use less product and lose less product to the cotton. Pour a small penny-size amount onto your fingertips and pat into the skin after cleansing.
Astringent. Many of us may be more familiar with this type of toner from our early teenage years. Astringents were the Clean & Clear and Neutrogena bottles that we swiped on our skin with a cotton pad waiting for the burning sensation to cure all our acne woes. Hopefully, by now you’ve learned that the burning sensation isn’t always a good thing and that gentle products can be just as effective. I do advocate applying astringents with a piece of cotton or gauze so that it can be swiped on efficiently instead of being tapped on. Astringents are the toners with the highest alcohol content so they are highly beneficial for oily and acneic skin as they can help remove some of the excess sebum. However, due to their highly alcoholic state, astringents should be used with caution. Always apply a moisturizer post-toner or only use once per day can lessen the drying effects astringents often have on skin. Skincare Instagram has shown us that Witch Hazel is the most widely used astringent on the market. Witch Hazel is derived from the North American Witch Hazel or Hamamelis viriginiana plant. Originally, used for medicinal purposes, the extract found it’s way into the skincare world as a toner.
Finally, just plain old Toner. Toners have a decently high (but safe) amount of alcohol in their formulation so they’re suitable for normal and combination skin. A classic toner provides hydration, balances the skin’s pH, preps the skin for product penetration, tightens, and tones the skin. Since toners have such a wide range of benefits, using ones with specific ingredients can target skin concerns. For example, I have normal skin but tend to get dehydrated on a daily basis so I aim to use toners that provide hydration day and night to prevent that tight, crepey feeling.
So no matter your skin type there is a toner out there for you and your skin! After determining your skin type, researching which toner is suited for your skin is vital. The correct toner can dramatically benefit your skin. Beware though – using facial sprays, rose water, micellar water, essential oil blends, do not count as toners! Toners contain more than just their star ingredients, they’ll contain hydrating ingredients, pH balancers, and nourishing skin ingredients. So let’s keep our facial sprays and toner in separate categories, shall we?