Skin Toner 101: Why You Shouldn't Skip It.

Updated: Aug 14



From passing them by your local store, hearing it featured on commercials, to seeing them advocated all over online, face toners for oily skin, dry skin, and acne-prone skin are undoubtedly prominent in the market today, and for good reason. These powerful products are leveraged by dermatologists across the globe and serve an array of benefits for your skin that can leave you hydrated and glowing.


Now, it is no secret that toner is awesome and really important (we can't emphasize this enough) in your skincare routine towards flawless skin. However, many people are not quite sure what toner is beyond the surface level, or how to apply it. Because of this, here is a toner 101 guide that will help you understand toner more in-depth and how to utilize it to get the best results.



a) What is toner?


Face toner, by definition, is a fast-penetrating liquid that helps clean your skin by removing all that dead skin cell build-up without hindering your skin's natural moisture. Toners are made up of several brightening, soothing, and anti-aging ingredients that remove excess oils and debris from the skin with a mission to replenish and nourish. Overall, it acts as a post-cleaning primer for your moisturizers or other skin treatments that you apply afterward. Depending on the toner you invest in, it could also contain elements of anti-inflammatories, glycerin, and antioxidants.



b) How toner works


From removing impurities such as oil, traces of dirt, leftover makeup and bacteria, to closing gaps in skin cells, toner is the prime solution for balancing your skin's pH and cleansing. It works to:


  • prevent blackheads;

  • reduce pimples by reducing the size of your pores, and protect it from contracting more impurities;

  • hydrate; and

  • restore the skin's pH balance.

  • In addition, as mentioned above, toner can allow the rest of your skincare products to absorb deeper into your skin so you can obtain the full benefits from each one.


Fun fact: Toner can even remove minerals and chlorine that are present in your tap water.


c) Best time to use it


The best time to use face toner is right after cleansing and exfoliating your skin, both in the morning and in the evening (unless you have dry skin, which should only be done once a day). In addition, try to apply your toner immediately after you cleanse, as the molecules are able to penetrate your skin much easier when it is wet or damp, allowing you to get better results faster. Once you put on your toner, you can then proceed to apply other skincare products, such as serums, eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen. The best part is that post-toner means these products will be able to go deeper into your skin so you can obtain its full potential.



d) The three types of toners


Diving a bit deeper, there are three different types of toner that you can leverage, skin fresheners, skin tonics, and acid toners.



  • Skin Fresheners: As the mildest toner form, it contains water as well as a humectant, which helps keep your skin’s moisture within the upper layers of your epidermis and prevents it from evaporating. Some humectant ingredients include:

  • glycerine for those with sensitive skin;

  • niacinamide for oily/combination skin; and

  • panthenol, allantoin, honey for dry skin. *Better for people with dry skin, as those with sensitive skin might feel a burning sensation.



  • Skin Tonics: This type is a bit stronger than the above and tends to contain up to 20% alcohol alongside water and a respected humectant ingredient. This one is best for those with combination, regular, or oily skin types.


  • Acid Toners: Acid toners are the strongest type of toner containing alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids or both. These toners are designed to exfoliate your skin chemically instead of physically to prevent micro-tears in your skin. If you are thinking about using this, invest in a product that has alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) if you want to exfoliate on a surface level, and use a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) one if you're going to exfoliate the deeper layers of your skin. Best for combination or oily or acne-prone skin types. (Regular skin types can use an acid toner on a weekly basis instead of daily.)



e) How to apply toner to obtain the best results


First and foremost, yes, you can use your hands to apply toner. But it is best applied with one of those round cotton pads so you can gently wipe it on your skin. Or you can buy toner in a spray form to minimize waste and to increase convenience. Whatever you choose, here is a best practice step by step.





Toner is certainly a buzzword that has been floating around the beauty industry for quite some time, right next to hyaluronic acid and retinol. And the reason is that it truly does have profound impacts on your skin. From oily skin, dry skin, to acne-prone skin, there is a face toner product that can fit your skin type to provide you with favorable outcomes. So, do your research, find your ideal face toner for your skin, and reflect on this guide. In the end, we promise that you will receive that desired smooth textured, brightened, even-toned skin in no time.



f) Some of our favourite toners for different skin types!













About us: We are Skintelligence, a team focused on a 'skin-first' approach to beauty through artificial intelligence. We match products to you based on your unique skin type and needs. Results are highly accurate and personalized with AI and machine learning. It's fun, convenient, and it works. Try it here.


As featured in Her World, CLEO, FEMALE, Shape, Nuyou, Singapore Women’s Weekly, Daily Vanity, Layers of Skins.






Smart Skin Consultant.

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