Here’s How To Use Facial Toner Without Drying Out Your Skin

by | May 2, 2019 | Skincare

Think back to your 14-year-old self swiping on facial toner every morning and night hoping the alcohol-filled solution would magically erase your acne. It might have gotten rid of the bumps on your skin, but it would also sting a ton and dry out your complexion.

Welp, facial toner is back. But it looks very different than it did when you were a teenager. “Facial toners have made a comeback thanks to the widespread popularity of Korean 10-step skincare regimens,” says Dr Christine Choi Kim, a dermatologist for The Body Shop.

Even if you aren’t interested in committing to the full nine yards (or rather, 10 steps) of a Korean beauty skincare routine, facial toner can be a seriously clutch part of your personal routine. Here’s how to use facial toner.

What exactly is face toner?

Facial toner is basically the in-between skincare step. It’s meant to be used after washing your face but before using your serum or moisturizer.

“Historically toners were used as a way to balance the pH of the skin after using an alkaline soap product for cleansing,” says Dr Rebecca Kazin, a dermatologist in Washington, DC. Now, as our cleansers tend to be more pH balanced and gentle, toners have evolved to a skincare category all their own.

Dr. Kazin adds: “The thought process has changed from just a typically astringent product. There are now more types of toners that provide different benefits” As for their alcohol content? Today’s toners are typically water-based.

READ MORE: Yes, You Can Totally Use Witch Hazel For Acne — Here’s How

What can toner do for your skin?

Face toners prep the skin for moisturizers and serum while getting rid of excess oil and stubborn dirt or makeup leftover on your face after you wash it, says Dr Kim. But they’re not a replacement for washing your face. Just think of facial toners as the extra credit rather than the shortcut of your skin-care routine.

But the reformulated toners of today go beyond that basic role. “They are used to target a varying array of skin concerns—from acne to dryness to ageing,” Dr Kim says.

Like their predecessors, some toners are formulated for oily skin. “A toner with a combination of glycolic and salicylic acids can keep oily skin matte throughout the day,” says Dr Estee Williams, a dermatologist in NYC.

But now there are toners for drier skin types that contain hydrating ingredients. “Some newer formulations are even toner-serum hybrids with more substantial gel or lotion textures,” Dr Kim explains.

How do I use it?

Thankfully, using toner is a lot more straightforward than jade rolling. Soak a cotton pad with toner, then swipe it over your entire face, neck, and chest. You should use toner after washing your face, and before using serum or moisturizer. If you want to go green and skip the cotton pad, you can also put a few drops of toner into the palms of your hands and then press them into your face.

Use a toner morning and night. But if your skin gets dry or irritated easily, try once a day or every other day. Remember, these toners contain potent ingredients. And for more astringent formulas (designed for oily or acne-prone skin), she suggests using it every two days before gradually ramping up.

READ MORE: 9 Ways You Can Use Witch Hazel To Get Amazing Skin

Who should use a toner?

“Really anyone,” says Dr Kazin. “It is just based on the benefits of a particular toner.” And since the benefits of facial toners are as vast as the benefits of serums, it’s all about finding the right one for your skin type or concerns. Speaking of…

What should I look for in my facial toner?

Dr Kim suggests looking for ingredients specific to your concerns. Here are some examples:

  • Rosewater for hydration
  • Chamomile for soothing
  • Tea tree oil to fight oil and bacteria
  • Aloe vera to calm inflammation and redness
  • Vitamin E for hydration
  • Plant stem cells for antioxidants and anti-ageing properties

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