Everything you need to know about skin toners

Everything you need to know about skin toners

We’ve talked about facial cleansers, and everything there is to know about them, and now, it’s time to explore the wonders of toners. For a long time, confusion about the benefits of toners led me to eliminate them from my skincare routine. Upon further research, I realised how fundamental they are in a skincare routine, and I also needed to share them with you. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the mysteries surrounding toners, what they are, their benefits, types, and the proper way to incorporate them into your skincare routine.

Everything you need to know about skin tonersWhat is a toner?

A toner is a liquid skincare product that acts as a supplementary cleansing step. It refines the skin’s surface by balancing its pH and preparing it to absorb subsequent products effectively. Designed to be clear, it should be applied after cleansing and before moisturizing.

Like any other skincare product, they have pros and cons. These should be considered while deciding to include them in your skincare routine. 

Pros of using toners

  1. Improved skin texture: Toners are renowned for refining skin texture, making it smoother and more even. They often contain ingredients like Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) or (Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) that promote cell turnover, aiding in the removal of dead skin cells and revealing a fresh, glowing complexion.
  2. Enhanced hydration: Many toners are infused with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, rose water, chamomile extract, and more, providing an extra layer of moisture to the skin. These components lock in moisture, preventing dehydration and leaving the skin supple and plump.
  3. Pore minimisation: Certain toners, like an astringent and rose water toners, work to tighten pores. They contribute to the appearance of smaller pores by removing residual oil and debris. This provides a more refined look and smoother texture and helps prevent breakouts caused by clogged pores.
  4. Increased product absorption: By prepping the skin’s surface, toners optimise the absorption of subsequent skincare products. This ensures that the benefits of serums, essences, and moisturisers are maximised, leading to more effective results.
  5. Balancing act: They also help restore the skin’s natural pH balance, ensuring it stays within the optimal range, between 4.7 and 5.75, for a healthy complexion.
  6. Gentle exfoliation: Some toners contain mild exfoliants that shed off dead skin cells, unveiling a fresher, brighter complexion.

Cons of using a toner

  1. Potential for irritation: Some toners, especially those with astringent or exfoliating properties, may irritate sensitive skin. Choosing a toner that suits your skin type and concerns is crucial to avoid potential adverse reactions.
  2. Overuse may lead to dryness: While toners are designed to balance the skin, excessive use, especially those containing alcohol, may strip the skin of its natural oils, resulting in dryness. It is essential to find the right balance and not overapply.

With that said, what type of cleanser is best for skin type? 

Types of toners
Kokouu via iStock

Types of toners and their uses

  1. Hydrating toners:

 If you have dehydrated skin, hydrating toners are vital to your skincare routine. They focus on replenishing and locking in moisture, relieving parched skin and contributing to a luscious and revitalised appearance.

  1. Exfoliating toners:

These often contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and are designed for those seeking gentle exfoliation. They assist in removing dead skin cells, promoting a smoother complexion, and addressing concerns like uneven skin tone.

  1. Balancing toners:

Suitable for all skin types, balancing toners work to maintain the skin’s natural pH levels. This prevents excessive dryness or oiliness, making them essential for maintaining evenness in the skin’s ecosystem.

  1. Calming toners:

Calming toners containing soothing ingredients like chamomile or aloe vera cater to individuals with sensitive or irritated skin. They provide a gentle, calming effect, reducing redness and irritation—particularly beneficial for those with easily irritated skin.

Understanding their diverse types and specific benefits allows you to customise your skincare routine to your unique skin needs. 

Once you get a toner, here’s how to use it properly.

How to use toners
Delmaine Donson via iStock

How to use toners properly

  1. Cleanse first: Begin with a thorough cleansing routine to rid your skin of impurities.
  2. Apply a small amount: While your skin is still damp, use a cotton pad, spray bottle, or your (clean) fingers to apply a small amount of toner to your face and neck.
  3. Gentle patting: Avoid harsh rubbing; gently pat the toner on your skin.
  4. Follow with moisturiser:  Apply your moisturizer immediately after to seal in its benefits.

The right toner will elevate your skincare routine, providing many benefits tailored to your skin’s needs. Incorporating toners for hydration, exfoliation, or balance can be a game-changer in achieving that coveted healthy glow. Stay tuned as we continue to crack the secrets of each step in a skincare routine. 


  • Omotola Saba

    Hi, Omotola here, the human form of the 100 Emoji and the fashion and beauty writer at Marie Claire Nigeria. She started writing for fun and merged it with her love for fashion, and beauty. She's mostly at home, picking up yet another new hobby, scrolling through pinterest, laughing with her family or at dad jokes, or sleeping.

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