Does your skincare routine ends with finding the best gentle facial cleansers? Behind writing this article, the idea is that I’m trying to figure out what are the other products that our skin actually crave and needs naturally and what are the other products that just kind of marketed there to get our attention and to make us spend money.
So in our series for skincare routine, I tried solving the cleanser issue that is basically the first step in our skincare routine. In this article, I will be sharing about the toners and help you find out if your skin needs it? A product like toner range from $5 all the way to $250 bottles, so it is worth spending this amount for facial skincare toners for clear skin.
Questions that will be answered in this article;
What are toners?
Back-in-the-day, toners are called skin tonics, and they were just that tonics for your skin. The first tonic water came out around the 1900s about the same time as Eau de Cologne. It was made to smooth the nerves, and take fatigue out of muscles. Many formulations are simple mixtures of perfume water alcohol and borax, and you can find borax nowadays in a lot of cleaning products and you can also use it in homemade laundry detergents.
Luckily we’re fast forwarding to present day, and there’s no longer laundry detergent particles in our toners. They are also newly formulated to target all of our skincare concerns, be it exfoliating, cleansing, hydrating, brightening, or all of the above.
So the basic science of Toner is that it gives your skin a quick hit of intense hydration as well as taking off the surface layer of dead skin cells and make it nice and fresh and glowy. And you can think of it like a sponge so if you pour water on a dry sponge, water just sits on top of the sponge. But if you soak the sponge in water and then you add more water into, it absorbs right away. This is exactly how the toner and your skin works.
Benefits of toner
There are three main benefits you can think of for the toners;
- Shrink the appearance of the pores
- Takes away the impurities that are left on your skin or dead skin that actually clogs pores to produce breakouts
- Helps restore the pH balance
What is pH?
PH stands for potential of hydrogen, ranges from 0 which is acidic all the way to 14 which is alkaline. And our skin sits little more towards acidic, i.e. between 4.5 to 5.5. And after you wash your face, it fluctuates. So toners bring it back to the neutral state, balance between the two spectrums. In order for our skin barriers to work properly, we need to make sure the pH is balanced. It’s because if it’s too acidic, it gets too inflamed and red and alkaline, it gets too dry and dehydrated.
Why this is important is because our skin barrier is responsible for keeping in lipids, natural oils, and moisture, while blocking out germs, bacteria, toxins, pollutants, all the negative things that cause breakouts. If our skin is not protected with the right level of moisture, with the right level of acidity, then it can’t do it’s job.
So all you need to know is that what toner is for. It’s coming in to restore the skin’s pH balance so it can fight off bacteria and everything nasty in the world. And also to help the products in the future that you’re going to apply.
“Applying toner preps your skin to absorb other products better”
What is the proper way to apply toner?
I think there’s two avenues that general consensus either goes down, i.e. you either use a cotton pad or use your hands. So for the cotton pads, I usually generally like putting it between my fingers two each and then swipe outward and upward. And the second way includes putting the toner on the palm and then pat it in. I really love the feeling as is very hydrating and very calming. I also feel like no product goes to waste.
If you’re using toner as a way to cleanse like a second or third step of cleansing, it will help remove all the impurities as well. If you are using cotton pads at first and then if you’re just using your hand, it will be like double toning to a first use. Maybe if you’re coming out of the shower, you do that because you are already clean. But if you’re just washing your face just to get rid of the residue, you do the cotton pad.
Differences between toners, micellar water, cleansing water, and essence
- Cleansing water
Cleansing waters are usually infused with other things such as essential oils, plant extracts, collagen, and minerals. It’s best used as the light refreshed in the morning and throughout the day.
So you can think of toner as the like parent family and then underneath that tree those things like beauty water. The “Son and Park” beauty water is both a toner and cleansing water. There’s willow bark and papaya extracts which are good for brightening the skin and naturally occurring acid.
- Micellar water
There’s a huge difference as micellar water is just for cleansing your face. It’s not for nourishing and micellar water actually has micelles that draw oil and draws water away from your skin. It is completely the opposite of what toner should do. These are also used as makeup removers.
Miscellar water- Draws water + oil away from skin
Toners- Brings moisture and pH back into skin
There is a confusing thing when it comes to essence, that’s a whole other thing. But you have an essence, that’s more goopy, more towards the serum side and then you’ve essences that a more tonery. Maybe sometimes, it is important to check the consistency as the more watery is applied first and then the thicker it is.
Recommended toners according to the skin types
- Skin with large pores
If you have large pores, you have to look for toners that have AHAs or Alpha hydroxyl acid to help reduce the size and appearance of the pores. Recommended options include; REN Readt steady glow daily AHA tonic and it works wonders.
And there is also Krave Kale-Lalu-yAHA which has AHA and also hyaluronic acid, that is also good for replenishing, hydration as well, so if you have big pores, try AHAs because they’re actually a really gentle chemical exfoliant.
There is also PIXI glow tonic that is also popular when it comes to dealing with large pores. Other one include witch hazel by Thayers that is great for inflammation as well.
- Dull skin
Toners with natural exfoliants like papaya and lactic acid are great for brightening the skin. Next one for dry skin is the ordinary lactic acid 10% with hyaluronic acid 2%. If you are just getting into AHAs, it’s a really gentle one to use and it’s good for improving texture brightening color. Next one is Indie Lee CoQ-10 toner and Burts Bees brightening refining tonic.
- Oily skin
Do you want to look for toners once again that will help break down kind of the oils in your pores, so things like AHA, BHA, salicylic acid, lactic acid, because this will then sink into your pores, and break down the bacteria that’s causing inflammation and things like that.
My favorite three are; one from Innis free Bijia blemish care toner and that one specifically got 2% salicylic acid, so every time I feel like I’m breaking out, I just like splash that all over the face. There is also Fresh Herb Calendula Tincture Toner that helps reduce inflammation, calms and moisturizes. It also helps improve skin elasticity, balances the pH level, and soothes.
A lot of these toners crossover between different skincare concerns. Like Krave beauty Kale-Lalu-Yaha that got aloe which is soothing, spinach, parsley, kale, and vitamin B5, available at very decent price.
- Dry skin
If you’ve dry skin, make sure you avoid products that have alcohol because they’ll further dry out your skin. And ingredients to look out for that are good for the skin are glycerin and hyaluronic acid. This will help you retain and replenish and lock the moisture. One of my favorite one is deep hydration facial toner from Fresh and is deeply hydrating. There’s rose petals, rose water, and there’s alsorose flower oil. There is also sodium Hyaluronic in this product. And this is actually much smaller in molecular size, compared to hyaluronic acid, which makes it really hydrating. Recommended toners include witch Hazel, one I’ve already mentioned before, and also the Kiehl’s Herbal Extract Toner, and then also the Calendula Ticture Toner.
- Sensitive skin
So if you have sensitive skin, you can use all the suggestions as mentioned above. This is because toner is applicable to all. But you can’t look specifically more towards plant-based ingredients like chamomile or aloe vera which are really known for calming and soothing irritation, redness and inflammation. There’s the Laneige Fresh Calming Toner and also the Clarins toning lotion with chamomile.
- Combination skin
If you have combination skin in theory, i.e. half of your face is oily and the other half is parched and you may not really know what to do. Will you put different toners in different areas? Of course not! The answer is you can just use most of the products already mentioned. The most important thing that you do have combination skin is rebalancing the pH level.
I think at the end of the day, toner is a kind of essential in our skincare routine.