Toner: What it is and Why You Need it

I’m embarrassed to admit that, until recently, my skincare routine was pretty lame. It’s not like I went to bed with my makeup on, but I didn’t do more than removing my makeup with a wipe and using a cleanser in the shower. But one day I looked in the mirror and realized I could do so much better. So I went on a hunt to find out exactly what products I needed to step it up, and almost everyone recommended toner.

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Countless YouTubers and beauty gurus praise toner as the most essential product in their skincare routine. So it must be good for something right?

According to skin specialist Mila Moursi, “A toner’s function is to complete the cleansing of your skin—removing the dust, pollution, and impurities that can still be lingering after washing with a cleanser.” Toners can shrink your pores, balance your skin’s pH levels, and prevent ingrown hairs among other benefits. If you have oily or acne prone skin, toners can be a big help for your skin.

There are three types of toners on the market: alcohol-based, water and glycerin or glycol-based, and water-based. All experts say to avoid alcohol-based toners at all costs. They can damage and irritate your skin and hurt its natural ability to repair itself and produce healthy collagen. Water and glycerin or glycol-based formulas are often labeled as fresheners or clarifiers. Basically, they’re perfume for your face and don’t really do much. Water-based toners are typically the way to go because they contain skin-repairing ingredients and antioxidants.

Thanks to the Internet, I knew how to apply it. After you cleanse your skin, you just put some toner on a cotton pad and use swipe it on your face, neck, and décolletage. Boom. Toner conquered.

After all that research, I’ve been testing toners to find one I like. These are my top three picks:

  1. Pixi Glow Tonic ($27)
  2. Mario Badescu Seaweed Cleansing Lotion ($15)
  3. Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Calming Toner for Sensitive Skin and Dry Rosacea Prone Skin ($20)

Let us know what your favorite toners are in the comments below!