While often overlooked, a toner is one of the most efficient products in a skincare routine. A lot of people don’t use have or use toners in their routine and that is a huge mistake. A toner is the quick-absorbing liquid you use immediately after cleansing for a number of reasons. But what exactly do toners do?
What Toners Do
Toners can be used to remove residual dirt after cleansing, they can be used to rebalance the pH of the skin, they can also be used to exfoliate the skin. My favourite function of toners is that extra layer of hydration they provide to the skin. Toners can also be used to clean out pores thereby being very beneficial to acne-prone skin as a result. Toners can be used to target different skin concerns.
Our skin is naturally acidic while soaps are alkaline. Using a toner after cleansing helps to return the skin to its acidic state faster. Toners can also help to eliminate excessive oil on the face after cleansing giving the appearance of smaller pores.
Toner is like primer for the rest of your routine and yeah it can help the rest of the products in your routine apply and absorb better. Think of your skin as a dry sponge that will readily accept a dollop of soap when wet than when dry. So it is with skincare products. Most of them penetrate better when the skin is damp.
Hydrating toners are very mild toners. They usually contain water and humectants such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Humectants are efficient at drawing and keeping moisture in the upper layers of the skin. Hydrating toners contain very little to no alcohol and they are well suited to all skin types even sensitive skin.
Exfoliating toners are strong toners that contain exfoliating acids such as alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids. These toners are formulated with intent to mildly or strongly exfoliate the skin depending on the formulation. Glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids are most commonly used alpha hydroxy acids while salicylic acid is the most commonly used beta hydroxy acid in exfoliating toners. Exfoliating toners are basically exfoliants in water-based product that goes deep to unclog pores or loosen dead skin cells to encourage skin turnover.
Astringents are strong toners that contain a high percentage of alcohol. They are now frowned upon in skincare as they have been found to be very stripping and drying to the skin. Astringents also damage the skin lipid barrier and end up causing more problems for the skin in the long run. They have now gently been phased out. They are more suited to very oily skin.