Guide to Using a Toner
A skin toner has always had the reputation of being an optional step in the skincare routine. Even aestheticians and dermatologists go back and forth between the benefits of using a toner. But did you know that it is mandatory in K-Beauty? K-beauty places great precedence to hydration. The toners that you might have used or still use in your routine is frowned upon. Once toners were all alcohol-based and few are still so. While these toners clarify the skin, they also strip your skin of all oils making it dry.
Here’s a small guide on everything you need to know about a toner.
What is a Toner?
Toners are a crucial part of your skincare routine that keeps your face fresh and reinvigorated. It is essentially a fast-penetrating liquid that helps remove the leftover dirt and makeup after double-cleansing. In acne-prone skin, it helps clean and minimizes the appearance of pores. While in the past, the toners were mostly alcohol-based and astringent, nowadays it is more hydrating and refreshing.
Choose Depending on Skin Type
Just like any other skincare product, choose your toner depending on your skin type and concern. The common ingredients found in a toner include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acid, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and vitamin C.
- Oily Skin/Acne Prone Skin - Oily skin benefits from an AHA or alpha hydroxy acid-based toners that have the right pH level needed for the skin. They are gentle, unlike salicylic acid toners, which are harsh and tend to dry the skin. Or if you are going with natural ingredients, witch hazel works wonders. They remove excess oil without drying out the skin.
- Sensitive Skin - Sensitive skin is prone to breakouts and irritations. Hence, it is better if the toner is rich in natural ingredients like green tea and aloe vera. Green tea has antioxidant properties and rejuvenates, while aloe vera soothes the skin.
- Normal/Combination Skin - Normal or combination skin benefits from toners with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, vitamin C, etc. If you have any specific skin concerns, you can go for toners that specifically address the issue.
- Dull Skin - Look for toners with papaya extracts and lactic acid. These exfoliate the skin and brightens it. Avoid toners with alcohol.
How to Apply It?
Double cleanse your face to remove the accumulating dirt and grime. Make sure to remove the makeup beforehand. For the application method, you can either take some on your hand and pat it on your face. Let it dry before applying moisturizer.
Or you can go the old-fashioned way and dampen a cotton round. Wipe your face with the damp cotton working outwards. Follow with a moisturizer. Oily and combination skin can use the toner twice a day while dry skinned beauties need to use it only once a day, preferably at night.
Benefits of Using a Toner
Some dermatologists still debate about the necessity of toners. But the reality is that alcohol-based toners while helping fight bacteria are the ones causing the most damage. Water-based hydrating toners on the other hand prep your skin and get it ready for the products to come.
Cleans and Purifies the Skin
Toners are fast penetrating and hence are effective in removing the impurities from your skin that double cleanse does not do. Yes! Double cleanse is important, especially if you are following the Korean beauty routine. Toners also clean the pores, leaving your skin revitalized without drying the skin.
Balances the Skin’s pH
Your skin’s pH is around 5.5. Pollutants and other external irritants create a pH imbalance. Your makeup can also cause your skin’s pH to shift. Toners have a slightly acidic nature to mimic the pH of your skin, hence bringing your skin back to its balanced state. An unbalanced pH level can cause your skin to dry out.
Toners formulated for acne-prone skin, help reduce oil-production, and treat acne. The ingredients beneficial for acne-prone skin would be salicylic acid, glycolic acid, niacinamide, and a host of other powerful actives. They also help reduce the appearance of blemishes and improve the complexion.
Hydrates the Skin
Humectants are often found in toners formulated for dry skin. They lock in the moisture and prevent moisture loss from the skin. Serums and moisturizers are easily absorbed when the skin is prepped and hydrated. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid in your toner.
Reduces the Appearance of Pores
Acne-prone skin can be susceptible to large pores. Wiping your face with a cotton ball soaked in toner helps to shrink the pores. This leaves you with luminous, hydrated skin with a more polished appearance.
10 Toners Suitable for Oily Skin (And Other Types Too!)
Toners are among the most misunderstood and underrated skincare products. However, it is a crucial part of the oily skincare routine. Those with oily skin need to keep their skin clean and oil-free to prevent acne. Here are a few toners that help you keep that oil under control and also reduce the appearance of pores.
Himalaya Refreshing and Clarifying Toner
Himalaya Refreshing and Clarifying Toner with its 100% herbal actives is an essential part of your skincare routine. The toner is an alcohol-free formulation with a blend of lentils that deep cleanses the pores, citrus lemon that is an astringent and tightens the pores and boerhavia root that controls oil secretion. The combination of these leaves your skin radiant and rejuvenated. It is also hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. The natural herbal formulation is priced at Rs. 81 for a 100 ml bottle and you can get it from at Amazon India.
Kiehl's Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion
While we advocate for alcohol-free toners, an excessively oily skin benefits from alcohol content to keep the oil under control. The Kiehl's Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion is a unique formulation that leaves your skin fresh and clear. Originally formulated in 1964 as an aftershave lotion, the product is known to soothe irritated skin and help reduce oil content. You can also use it as a spot treatment for acne. It is available to buy for Rs. 1,872 from Strawberry Net (200 ml).
Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Pore-Perfecting Toner
New to toner? Still apprehensive about it? A toner that gently cleanses without drying out the skin is just what you need. The 100% all-natural product is oil-free and perfect for all skin types. The toner has witch hazel that gently removes excess oil without drying out the skin and tightens the pores. On application the Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Pore-Perfecting Toner gives you skin so clean, pure, and even-toned. Available to buy from iHerb, the product costs Rs. 468 (473 ml).
Re’equil Pore Refining Face Toner
Re'equil Pore Refining Face Toner is an alcohol-free product is a potent acne treatment that removes excess oil, leaving behind clear and bright skin. The toner is packed with 9 botanical extracts and dermatologically tested for oily, acne-prone skin. In addition to that, the toner has been proven to refine the pores clearing acne, whiteheads, and blackheads. Costing you Rs. 350 (100 ml), it is available to buy from Nykaa.
Lakmé Absolute Pore Fix Toner
The Pore Fix Toner from Lakme’s Absolute range seems to be a crowd favourite as it aims at solving one of the major skin woes of oily skinned people. The alcohol-free toner not only unclogs pores and tightens them but also removes oil without drying out the skin. It also helps to revitalize and rejuvenate your skin after a long day. Daily use of the toner ensures an oil-free skin with reduced pores and an even skin tone. Buy 60ml of this product from Amazon India for Rs. 235.
Plum Green Tea Toner
Specially formulated for acne-prone skin, the Plum Green Tea Toner gives you clear, smooth, and well-toned skin. Packed with the goodness of green tea, glycolic acid, and glycerine, the toner is free of alcohol, parabens, and phthalate. Green tea while being an astringent also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities. Glycolic acid, a famous AHA and glycerine, a non-comedogenic emollient, helps to keep the skin soft and refreshed. The 100% vegan and the cruelty-free product is available to buy for Rs.312 from Amazon India (200 ml).
Biotique Bio Cucumber Pore Tightening Toner With Himalayan Waters
A blend of cucumber, coriander, nutgalls, berberry, peppermint oil along with the pure Himalayan waters, the Biotique Bio Cucumber Pore Tightening Toner is quite refreshing and perfect for oily skin as well as normal skin. The product contains 100% botanical extracts and might sting sensitive skin on application. Formulated to balance out the pH of the skin, the toner deep cleanses the pores tightening them in the process. It is priced at Rs. 131 for (120 ml) at Purplle.
The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Toner
If clogged pores are your problem, you need to invest in The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Toner. The toner from the South Korean based Skincare brand The Face Shop is a unique formulation containing volcanic ash from Jeju Island and an urban defence complex that protects your skin from pollution and harmful environment. The volcanic ash has strong sebum adhering properties that removes dust and impurities effectively. Daily use of the product leaves you with clean and oil-free skin. Buy it from Nykaa for Rs. 1,350 (150ml).
Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin EX
Another hit from Korean beauty products is the Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin EX. The mild toner is quick-absorbing and has Jeju green tea extracts that help maintain the pH of the skin. It is packed with natural ingredients that cleanse your skin and hydrates it while maintaining your skin’s delicate balance. Suitable for oily and combination skin beauties, the toner is available to buy from Purplle for Rs. 1,200 (200ml).
Pixi Glow Tonic Exfoliating Toner
Pixi Glow Tonic, a blogger favourite, is a revitalising toner suitable for all skin types. Infused with 5% glycolic acid and aloe vera, it is an exfoliating toner. It exfoliates and evens out the skin tone. Glycolic acid is known for its acne prevention properties. It also unclogs the pores and minimizes its appearance. Buy it from amazon.in for Rs. 3,100 (250ml). Though pricey, the toner walks its talk and is a worthwhile buy.
Homemade Natural Toners
While most products in our list contained natural ingredients, sensitive and acne-prone skin always benefits from DIY toners. It also helps keep the price under control.
Cold Water Toner
This is without question the safest toner you could use. Filtered cold water or ice cubes work the best when you have sensitive acne-prone skin. This not only reduces excess oil and tightens pores but also hydrates your skin. It is also the wakeup call you'll need when your skin is dull and dreary.
Rose Water Toner
Rosewater toner is nothing new. Our ancestors, even ancient Persians, and Egyptians, used rose water on their skin. Rosewater tones your skin, reduces the appearances of pores, and also keeps your wrinkles under check. Store rosewater in a spritzer and have in your handbag for a hot, humid, and sultry day.
Chamomile Tea Toner
Chamomile not only relaxes you but also helps calm the skin. Oily skin is more prone to acne and ingredients like tea tree oil and chamomile help fight bacteria also soothing the skin. Add 2 drops of tea tree oil to 1 cup chamomile tea made with 2 tea bags. Tea tree is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial while chamomile helps fight breakouts and correct uneven skin tone.
Cucumber Juice Toner
Cucumbers are known to be refreshing and help cool down the skin. They also cleanse the pores and acts as an astringent with the addition of lemon juice. Take the juice of one cucumber and add a few drops of lemon. Cucumber hydrates the skin while lemon helps fade the scars and improves the skin texture.
Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is known for its astringent properties and also helps restore the natural pH of the skin. The presence of AHA’s in ACV attributes to its exfoliating properties. Mix ACV with filtered water and apply it on your face. Let it sit for 30 minutes and wash it off. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to mask the smell. ACV also minimizes the pores and controls the oil on those with oily skin.
Consult Your Dermatologist
For those who have really sensitive skin, it is best to run past a skincare product through your dermatologist first before using it. This will ensure that your skin doesn't react in unexpected ways and avoid new problems coming your way. Alternatively, you could also apply it on another part of your body, like your palm first, and then wait for a few hours and if there isn't any adverse reaction, you can apply it on your face.