Face Toner: The Missing Link In Your Skincare Routine

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What are the cosmetic products that make your skincare routine?

Naturally, moisturizers and cleansers are a must in a routine. However, people seem to forget a face toner. Most likely due to previous memory of using the stinging version of toners or just because they don’t know what a face toner actually does.

A skincare routine, whether morning, night, or minimal should have three steps, which are cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. These steps can be further broken when you have two products that cleanse and exfoliates or two sets of moisturizers. In all, there should be three categories. And toner is essential in any beauty regimen.

You should know why a face toner is essential in a skincare routine, especially now that there is a surge in demand. And the first thing you should know about a face toner is that it is not as it was.

Face toners have evolved over the years. And this is why we would be looking into the product. What you need to know and what to look out for when you buy a face toner will be treated in this article.

Shopping Guide


Not only women can benefit from a face toner. Everyone can use the product for their face. It’s all about keeping the face hydrated, supple, and smooth. Therefore, you need to know everything there is about the product. If you found yourself here, contemplating buying one, you are in good hands.

What is a face toner?

Usually used before a moisturizer and after a cleanser, a face toner is a liquid used to remove the residual dirt from the skin. It cleans off the leftover traces of grime, makeup, and oil. Also, it is used to balance the skin’s pH level. One of its characteristics is that it acts as a fast-acting liquid that hydrates the face and makes it flexible.

You can call it a primer to prepare your face for what comes after. This includes moisturizers, serums, sunscreen, and makeup. Also, it works by closing the pores of the skin to keep it protected. Face toners are normally applied with a cotton ball, sprayed, or used as a face mask.

What are the benefits of a face toner?

beautiful clear skin

The benefits of face toner should not be underestimated. Face toners are essential in keeping the face prepped for other products. They are a ‘primer’ that sets the skin and helps absorb other treatment products that need to be absorbed. For instance, just like you need your body moist with water when applying a moisturizer, a toner can act as the base to help absorb moisture from a moisturizer.

Also, it helps to firm your skin and sets the tone of your skin layers (epidermis and dermis). This will also keep the skin refreshed and improve blood circulation in the skin tissues. Another benefit of a face toner is to regulate the pH level of the skin, sebum, and hydration. When the skin is firmly regulated, the skin’s radiance increases.

And when you use face toner in your daily skincare routine, you are bound to feel nourished and refreshed over time. This is because no grime, dirt, or leftover makeup in your pores, thus improving the quality of your skin.

How should I apply a face toner?

A face toner should rightly be among your morning and nighttime skincare routine. It comes right after your cleanser and exfoliator. Also, it should be used in less than a minute after cleansing. This helps the molecules penetrate the skin better, says New York-based dermatologist Arielle Kauvar in an interview with Allure magazine.

And applying a toner is one of the easiest steps in a skincare routine. There is no single method when it comes to applying face toners. You can sprinkle it into your palms and tap it on your skin. Or you can use a cotton ball wet with the formula and massage on your skin, wiping it over your face and neckline.

For the traditional face toner, you can apply it properly using these easy steps:

  • Apply a small amount of face toner on your cotton pad, and then split in two.
  • Wipe each side of the face with one half each.
  • Rub the pad in a circular motion on your skin and sides, and then the whole of your face.
  • Move on to your neckline and rub there too.
  • Leave in the toner for a while before applying a moisturizer.
applying toners

Should I use my hands or a cotton ball for face toners?

Well, this depends on the product or you. As mention earlier, there are different forms a face toner can come in.

It can come in the form of a mist where you just need to spray on your face. And for the liquid ones, you can use either your hands or cotton balls.

The new trend is using your palms to pat your face. This method is said to help blood flow and penetration of the toner faster.

However, certain face toners require using cotton balls for application. All methods are good. It’s your preference that determines what tool you use. And there is also the manufacturer’s instruction on how to apply, which you are recommended to follow.

What are the types of face toners?

There are different formats of face toners with different formulas. We can identify the types of formulas as:

  1. Hydrating toners: They are mild and contain mostly water and humectants. The humectants like glycerin keep the moisture in the epidermis from evaporating. The toner is gentle to the skin and it is less irritable.
  2. Treatment toners: They have a stronger constituency than hydrating toners and are used to treat specific skin problems. They contain active ingredients and are usually called specific names like balancing toners, anti-aging toners, soothing toners, brightening toners, and others.
  3. Acid toners: They are toners that contain alpha hydroxyl acid or beta hydroxyl acid. They are formulated to chemically exfoliate the skin surface.
  4. Astringents: Some are more alcohol-based, with water, humectant, and antiseptic ingredients. They are used to control sebum and help close pores. But they can be irritating to the skin due to the high percentage of alcohol. However, there are alcohol-free astringents that can be used to cleanse the face
face toner

How should I choose my face toner?

As usual, whenever you want to pick a cosmetic or skincare product, your skin type should be your first consideration. Also, what your skin needs come close next. For example, dry skin needs face toners with emollient or hydrating toners with lots of moisturizing properties. Oily skin needs astringents or acid-based toners because they help to control sebum and close the pores.

Normal skin types can use all except for astringents because they might zap all the natural oils from the face. Combination types might have to use two types of face toners for each part of the face that is dry and oily. And sensitive skin types should also use hydrating toners because they are less irritating.

For special treatment like acne, astringent is the best to control excess sebum. Meanwhile, aging skins should use toners with lots of humectants and antioxidants. If you have dull skin, you should use acid toners to exfoliate your skin. Also, steer clear of any product that has alcohol listed as one of the first five ingredients.

What ingredients should I look out for in a face toner?

When you want to buy a face toner, there are some essential ingredients you should look out for. These ingredients will help your skin stay hydrated and clean.

  • Hyaluronic acid, Glycerin: For hydrating the skin
  • Aloe Vera, Lavender, or Chamomile: Used to soothe irritated skin or redness
  • Vitamin E, Rosewater: Helps to hydrate the skin and keep it supple
  • Olive Oil: It has anti-aging properties
  • Stem Cells: Has antioxidants and anti-aging properties
  • Tea Tree, Witch Hazel, Salicylic Acid: Helps to control oil and fight bacteria

What are the ingredients I should avoid in face toners?

face toner

There are several ingredients you have to be wary of when you see them listed on the label of any face toner product. They include:

  • Alcohol: You have to be careful when you use face toners with alcohol. Though it helps the face, but over time it begins to dry up the skin. It also causes irritation.
  • Parabens: Artificial preservatives are a no-can-do with face toners. They can damage the skin.
  • Synthetic fragrances: These are not natural like the ones you get from essential oils. Fragrances can irritate the skin or cause redness. Also, fragrances have a high concentration of alcohol in them.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide: They can cause dry skin if there is a high concentrate in the formula.

What are the pros and cons of face toner?

Like any other product, there are advantages and disadvantages. However, the drawbacks of a face toner do not overshadow the benefits. Here are the reasons why you should and shouldn’t want a face toner.


  • It hydrates the skin.
  • Face toners help to prep the skin for other treatment products.
  • It clears the face of leftover makeup, grime, and dirt.
  • Face toners have anti-aging properties.


  • The alcohol in some toners might cause irritation.

Shopping Criteria


Now you know everything you should about face toners, you are ready to buy. But, there are some factors you need to consider before making your final choice. These criteria are essential, and they help to form questions the face toner of your choice needs to answer.

Skin Type

As we highlighted, your skin type is the first determinant of what type of face toner you are getting. Your skin type tells you what to look out for in any cosmetic product. For instance, normal skin needs to maintain its skin with daily care. Dry skin needs hydrating formula to keep the skin supple.

Oily skin needs to control sebum. On the other hand, combination needs both for different parts of the face. Sensitive skins need a soothing formula, and mature skins need anti-aging properties. So, your skin type determines your needs and what type of product you should go for.

Keep in mind that your skin does change, with seasons for instance. When it does, use products that would complement your existing skin characteristics and needs.


The ingredients in the face toner should be thoroughly screened. If you don’t know what an active ingredient does, search for it. We have highlighted the ingredients you should look out for and their benefits. Also, components like alcohol, parabens, and faux fragrance should be avoided at all costs.

There is the option of natural or organic face toners. These toners are made with plants and essential oils or flowers. Sensitive skins have to be watchful of what they apply to their body. So if they can, they should stick to natural products.

Other Properties

There are other inactive ingredients or properties in a face toner that should be screened too. For instance, there are face toners that are great for night or day use. These toners have specific properties that should complement your skin type. Therefore, you must pay attention to them. An example is anti-fatigue or anti-aging components that are best during morning routines.


A face toner should be of the best quality and recommendation. It has to pass the product quality test. Also, it has to be dermatologist tested and approved. These are important because they certify that the product does not have any harmful ingredients, and it also benefits the skin.

You can also investigate the product’s credibility by surfing through the internet to read reviews from other buyers. Or take a leap of faith and test the products out yourself. 

Recommended Face Toners

Now that you know all there is to know and what to look out for, you can buy your face toner. But to help make an easier choice, we have selected the best face toners. These toners are selected based on user reviews and popularity. They are the best in the retail market right now.

1. Best Face Toner Oily Skin

This is a best seller on Amazon. Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal and Witch Hazel Facial Toner is perfect for oily and combination skin. It cleanses, tones, moisturizes, and balances the skin’s pH level. Also, it helps to control sebum production and constricts the pores from opening wider.

The pore-cleansing formula is made from classic ingredients that help the skin glow and stay hydrated. Only organic active ingredients like witch hazel, aloe vera, and rose water. And it has been dermatologist tested for safety.

2. Best Anti-Aging

InstaNatural’s Vitamin C Facial Toner is a prepping material for moisturizers and serums. It is a soothing mist toner with vitamin C for combatting excess oil and on the skin. Vitamin C is also a great stimulant for collagen production, keeping the skin looking fresher and younger. There are other antioxidants to help with anti-aging effects. They protect the skin’s elasticity and keeps it tight.

It also has vitamin E and glycerin to keep the skin supple and help with the pH level of the skin. The toner can also brighten the skin, enhancing its radiance and tone. All skin types can benefit from the working serum.

3. Best Spray

If you are looking for an organic exfoliating and clarifying facial spray, then COSRX is your best. It is a mist toner used to hydrate and mildly exfoliate the skin. It is formulated with AHA, BHA, and purifying botanical ingredients. The facial toner keeps your skin texture, vitality and also controls your pores.

It is made with natural ingredients and it’s cruelty-free. Furthermore, all skin types can use without feeling irritation. You can use it as a facial mask if you want immediate hydration on your skin.

4. Best Hydrating Toner

Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner is great for dry skins because of ingredients like witch hazel, rosewater, and hyaluronic acid. It removes impurities, refines the pores, and moisturizes the skin. The toner is dermatologist recommended. Also, it is parabens, dye, gluten, and sulfate-free. You can use it every day to get the hydrating effect you want.

5. Best For Sensitive Skin

Neutrogena has the best skin care products, and their Oil- and Alcohol-Free Facial Toner is great. It is hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and skin-purifying. This means it won’t irritate the skin or clog your pores. It works by removing impurities and reconditioning the skin without irritating it.

The face toner is alcohol-free with instead mild purifiers to soothe the skin and keep it moisturized. You can apply the clear toner with cotton balls, rubbing in an upward stroke.


A good skincare routine must include the three steps of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. At times, people forget they are supposed to tone their skin, most likely because they have a bad experience growing up, or they just don’t know what a face toner does.

A face toner has incredible benefits to the skin, like protecting it, preparing it, and keeping it hydrated. You will need a face toner before your moisturizer, serum, and sunscreen before heading out for the day. And as you steadily use it, there would definitely be results in the long run.

However, you should be wary of face toners with alcohol and parabens, especially if you have sensitive skin. But face toners are must-have products in any skincare regimen you observe. So don’t be afraid of it and try it out.

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