Most of us have a toner in our cupboards because it seems like something that skin care people are always touting as an important part of our routine but is it really?
What does a facial toner actually do for us? Is it a necessary step in our routine? Let’s take a closer look at toners, how they’ve changed over time and what to look for when you’re making your choice.
What is a toner?
A toner is a hydrating skin care product that’s meant to shrink the look of large pores and further cleanse the skin, picking up any makeup or debris that may have been left behind. This is used after a cleanser but before a Serum or a Moisturizer.
There’s a bit of controversy because skin toners have recently undergone a shift in their use. Toners were originally designed to help restore skin’s pH balance because old styles of cleansing (with soap bars and harsh cleansers) disrupted the pH of the skin’s acid mantle, leaving skin more vulnerable to bacteria and other microorganisms. While a lot of general cleansers can still negatively impact the skin’s pH overtime, most products that are designed as facial cleansers now aren’t as alkaline as they have been in the past.
Along with the shifting times in pH balance there has also been a pretty unceremonious use of the word ‘toner’ in common skin care language. I asked our staff esthetician, Abby, about this topic and she had a lot to say about the use of the word ‘toner’ in brands that are less factually focused and more into the marketing terms. She made the very clear distinction between a ‘toner’ product and another type of product all together, known as an ‘astringent.’
An ‘astringent’ is a product created solely for oily skin with large and clogged pores. Astringents often have alcohols in them or ingredients like salicylic acid or witch hazel and are geared towards tightening and removing excess oil from oily skin types—these products can strip the skin’s mantle and can actually unbalance the pH! Though they are often called ‘toners,’ these types of products are more of an additional treatment than a toner is so make sure to watch the ingredient lists when you’re choosing a new toner.
Face toners are created to be catered toward all skin types. Every toner is a bit different and they can be focused on different types of issues depending on the ingredients but in general, this type of product is made to prep the skin after cleansing, like an extra primer step that gets the skin good and ready for the rest of your beauty routine. They’re gentle and hydrating and they give the skin a boost rather than removing something.
Check the ingredients in your toner
We talked about this a little bit above, but you want to check out the ingredients in your toner. Of course we feel this way about every product you put on your skin, but a toner is the first thing that touches fresh skin. If you’re prepping your skin with ingredients that aren’t right for your skin, the rest of your routine won’t be as effective as you’d like it to be!
It’s helpful for me to look at the larger picture so let’s think about the desert, there’s no water right? If you try to add nutrients or pour water on top of the cracked earth it’ll roll right off. It takes time and the proper care to turn a desert into an oasis and it’s the same thing with skin care.
Ingredients you don't want
If you’re using ingredients like alcohol in your face toner, you might be accidentally creating a desert. Alcohol can cause dehydration that can lead to the appearance of aging—the opposite of what we want a toner to do for us. We want toners to hydrate the skin and give it the nutrients it needs so we can feel like we’re living in our own glorious oasis.
The right toner has ingredients that create a number of benefits, giving you a quick and refreshing lift that helps restore and renew your skin. Look for ingredients like aloe vera or hyaluronic acid to increase hydration, hydrosols or other water-based infusions, and other plant-based ingredients that are targeted for your skin type.
Our toning solutions for you
Think all that is too much to expect from your toners? It’s not. In fact, we have two stellar toners that perform all seven steps for you, and are also tailored to your skin type.
Normal to oily skin
Our Rosemary Toning Mist is rosemary hydrosol with added ingredients like aloe vera for hydration and thyme and neem to help control excess oil production without being drying.
Natural antioxidants like carnosic and rosmarinic acid protect from environmental stressors. Rosemary is even reputed to help brighten the skin and give it a firmer, more toned look.
Normal to dry skin
For those who like more floral, soothing toners, we recommend our Neroli Toning Mist. Neroli is an amazing ingredient on its own, with cleansing properties that help minimize the appearance of pores. It has a tightening effect that helps tired skin look livelier.
Neroli's calming and soothing nature also makes it a wonderful facial toner for folks with sensitive skin!
Meanwhile, the aloe vera juice provides antioxidant protection, vitamins and minerals, and moisturizing fatty acids and the aspen bark is a natural preservative.
Is toner an important part of your skin care routine? Share your thoughts below!
Aub is a certified clinical herbalist and content strategist/creator. She is the co-founder of Dandelion Branding, a digital marketing company that works with brands that are focused on revolutionizing their industries. When she's not working on a project, you can usually find her nosing about in the forest or giving congratulatory high fives to every plant in her house for growing.