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This Is How (and When) You Should Be Applying Toner

CEO Tinh Phung
Have you ever wondered about the proper way to apply toner to your face? Or the ideal time to incorporate it into your skincare routine? We often overlook these questions before trying out a new...

Have you ever wondered about the proper way to apply toner to your face? Or the ideal time to incorporate it into your skincare routine? We often overlook these questions before trying out a new product. To help you maximize the benefits of toner, we're here to guide you on how and when to apply it for the best results.

What Is a Face Toner?

A face toner is a versatile liquid that serves multiple purposes. It hydrates and soothes the skin, balances pH levels after cleansing, removes excess oils, and even fights acne. It's a multitasking product that can address various skin concerns.

What Is the Difference Between Astringent and Toner?

The main difference between toners and astringents lies in their ingredient lists. Toners often contain glycerin and glycol, which draw water into the skin, soothe it, and buffer its pH levels. On the other hand, astringents, which are alcohol-based, have fewer hydrating benefits and are more suitable for oily skin types. They can sometimes disrupt the skin's moisture levels.

What Does a Toner Do for Your Face?

Think of toner as an additional step in your cleansing routine. It ensures that all traces of dirt and impurities are effectively washed away while maintaining your skin's pH balance. Imbalanced pH can lead to dryness, irritation, and breakouts. By using a pH-balancing toner, you can keep your skin protected against over-drying while removing impurities.

When to Use Toner

The best time to apply toner is immediately after using a face wash. Some cleansers can be harsh and strip the skin, so following up with a toner helps soothe your skin while removing any residue, dirt, and makeup. After toning, proceed with a serum, moisturizer, and, in the morning, a broad-spectrum sunscreen for complete protection.

How Often Should You Use a Facial Toner?

Check the instructions on your favorite toner for specific guidance, but most toners can be used both morning and night. However, if you're short on time or have dry or sensitive skin, it's recommended to use toner only at night. This will help clear your skin of any residual makeup or grime accumulated throughout the day.

How to Apply Face Toner

The application method is as crucial as choosing the right product. After cleansing, soak a cotton pad in your preferred toner (you can try the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Eco Pads for a reusable option). Gently sweep the soaked cotton pad across your face, focusing on all facial contours. Depending on the effectiveness of your cleansing session, you may need to use multiple cotton pads. You'll know you're done when the cotton pad comes away from your face looking clean.

Best Toners by Skin Type

Depending on your skin type and concerns, there's a toner that can work best for you. Whether you need a mattifying toner or a hydrating one, we've rounded up our favorite picks for every skin concern below. Take a look:

Best Toners for Oily Skin

  1. Kiehl's Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner: Made with calendula flowers and burdock root, this toner gently cleanses and soothes the skin without drying it out.

Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner Caption: Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner - a gentle and soothing toner for oily skin.

  1. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent Face Toner for Oily Skin: This toner instantly reduces shine and minimizes the appearance of pores. It exfoliates with lipo-hydroxy acids to remove dead skin cells and excess oils.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent Face Toner for Oily Skin Caption: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent Face Toner for Oily Skin - fights oiliness and reduces pore size.

  1. Thayers Natural Remedies Lemon Astringent: This pH-balanced astringent provides extra cleansing, toning, and moisturizing for oily skin. Lemongrass oil detoxifies, while witch hazel and aloe vera soothe and hydrate.

Thayers Natural Remedies Lemon Astringent Caption: Thayers Natural Remedies Lemon Astringent - an effective toner for oily skin with detoxifying and soothing properties.

  1. Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner: This toner targets enlarged pores, hyperpigmentation, dullness, and discoloration. With 3% niacinamide and licorice root extract, it helps control sebum production and calms inflammation.

Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner Caption: Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner - targets enlarged pores and hyperpigmentation for oily skin.

Best Toners for Dry Skin

  1. Lancôme Tonique Confort Hydrating Facial Toner: This alcohol-free toner improves hydration in just 15 minutes. It contains hyaluronic acid, acacia honey, and sweet almond oil to draw moisture and leave the skin soft and clean.

Lancôme Tonique Confort Hydrating Facial Toner Caption: Lancôme Tonique Confort Hydrating Facial Toner - enhances hydration for dry skin.

  1. Thayers Natural Remedies Milky Hydrating Face Toner with Snow Mushroom and Hyaluronic Acid: This softening toner is ideal for dry and sensitive skin. It's powered by hyaluronic acid and snow mushroom to provide deep hydration without causing dryness.

Thayers Natural Remedies Milky Hydrating Face Toner with Snow Mushroom and Hyaluronic Acid Caption: Thayers Natural Remedies Milky Hydrating Face Toner with Snow Mushroom and Hyaluronic Acid - a hydrating toner for dry and sensitive skin.

  1. Freck beauty Cactus Water Cleansing Lactic Acid Toner: This toner exfoliates without drying out the skin. It contains lactic acid to gently remove dead skin cells and fade discoloration, while cactus flower and kelp extract provide hydration and antioxidants.

Freck Beauty Cactus Water Cleansing Lactic Acid Toner Caption: Freck Beauty Cactus Water Cleansing Lactic Acid Toner - exfoliating and hydrating toner for dry skin.

  1. Thayers Natural Remedies Coconut Water Facial Toner: This toner with a delightful coconut water scent helps revive and hydrate dry, dehydrated skin. Witch hazel and aloe vera provide soothing and calming properties.

Thayers Natural Remedies Coconut Water Facial Toner Caption: Thayers Natural Remedies Coconut Water Facial Toner - hydrates and refreshes dry skin.

Best Toners for Acne-Prone Skin

  1. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Charcoal Cleansing Purifying Jelly Water: This unique jelly formula combines the benefits of a micellar water and a toner. It absorbs excess oil and removes makeup, dirt, and SPF without any stinging or rubbing.

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Charcoal Cleansing Purifying Jelly Water Caption: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Charcoal Cleansing Purifying Jelly Water - a multi-purpose toner for acne-prone skin.

  1. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner: This toner contains salicylic and glycolic acids to gently exfoliate and unclog pores. It effectively removes dirt and dead skin cells, leaving the skin feeling clean and refreshed.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner Caption: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner - exfoliating and pore-clearing toner for acne-prone skin.

  1. Kiehl's Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion: This versatile formula can be used as a toner, spot treatment, or aftershave for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin. It has cooling menthol and camphor, providing an invigorating experience.

Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion Caption: Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion - tones and treats acne-prone skin.

  1. Thayers Natural Remedies Blemish Clearing 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Toner: Designed for acne-prone skin, this alcohol-free toner helps clear existing blemishes and prevent new ones from forming. It contains salicylic acid to exfoliate and unclog pores, witch hazel to soothe, and lemongrass oil to detoxify.

Thayers Natural Remedies Blemish Clearing 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Toner Caption: Thayers Natural Remedies Blemish Clearing 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Toner - a blemish-clearing toner for acne-prone skin.

Best Toners for Sensitive Skin

  1. Thayers Natural Remedies Rose Petal Facial Toner: Specifically designed for sensitive skin, this pH balancing toner is free from alcohol, phthalates, parabens, and gluten. It contains rose water and aloe vera to soothe and hydrate, and witch hazel to reduce inflammation and tighten pores.

Thayers Natural Remedies Rose Petal Facial Toner Caption: Thayers Natural Remedies Rose Petal Facial Toner - a gentle and soothing toner for sensitive skin.

  1. Thayers Natural Remedies Unscented Facial Toner: If you prefer unscented skincare products, this version of the classic toner is the perfect choice. It soothes sensitive skin with witch hazel, aloe vera, and glycerin for added moisture.

Thayers Natural Remedies Unscented Facial Toner Caption: Thayers Natural Remedies Unscented Facial Toner - a gentle and fragrance-free toner for sensitive skin.

  1. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Toner: This gentle and fragrance-free toner is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It contains hydrating ingredients like vitamin E, avocado oil, squalane, and apricot kernel oil to maintain your skin's moisture levels.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner Caption: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner - a gentle toner for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

  1. Kiehl's Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner: This toner is perfect for toning dry and sensitive skin. Its non-drying, alcohol-free formula soothes the skin with cucumber extract and allantoin, leaving it refreshed and calm.

Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner Caption: Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner - a soothing and hydrating toner for dry and sensitive skin.

Best Toners for Combination Skin

  1. Kiehl's Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner: This toner is suitable for all skin types, but it works especially well for combination skin. It gently exfoliates while maintaining moisture levels. Lipo-hydroxy acids reveal smoother and more even skin, while emollients and almond milk provide hydration.

Kiehl’s Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner Caption: Kiehl’s Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner - exfoliating and moisturizing toner for combination skin.

  1. Thayers Natural Remedies Cucumber Facial Toner: This alcohol-free drugstore toner is perfect for calming and resetting the skin. Cucumber soothes and hydrates, leaving your skin feeling refreshed.

Thayers Natural Remedies Cucumber Facial Toner Caption: Thayers Natural Remedies Cucumber Facial Toner - a calming and hydrating toner for combination skin.

  1. Revision Skincare Soothing Facial Rinse Toner: This alcohol-free toner calms stressed-out skin. Algae extract hydrates, while grape seed extract provides antioxidant benefits. Your skin will feel replenished, supple, and soft.

Revision Skincare Soothing Facial Rinse Toner Caption: Revision Skincare Soothing Facial Rinse Toner - a soothing and hydrating toner for combination skin.

  1. S'Able Labs Black Seed Toner: Packed with antioxidants like vitamin C, E, and ferulic acid, this toner brightens the skin and defends it against free radical damage. It also helps smooth fine lines and gently exfoliates the skin's surface.

S’Able Labs Black Seed Toner Caption: S’Able Labs Black Seed Toner - brightening and exfoliating toner for combination skin.

Remember to choose the toner that suits your skin type and concerns. With the right application and the perfect toner, you can enhance your skincare routine and achieve healthier, more radiant skin.

(Photo: Chaunte Vaughn)

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