Facial Toner

Tone After Cleansing

As promised last week, I’m continuing the series on Facial Cleansers, Toners, and Moisturizers this week. Touted as the mainstay of any beauty routine, this beauty ritual may not be as useful as you think for maintaining beautiful, healthy skin. At least that’s what I learned while writing this week’s installment. I’ve always wondered what a facial toner was. Yet, I’ve never had one. And I don’t think I’ve ever needed one. So toners, what are they good for? The answer may be absolutely nothing. That is unless you’re prone to having excessively oily skin or acne.

facial toner featured-image

The History of Facial Toner

Toners were invented and marketed to be used after cleansing. Back in the day, people used lye-based soaps. Unfortunately, these soaps would often leave the person with a layer of fatty film. The water was also harder back then and contained more trace minerals. Hence, toners were invented as a liquid that could strip off the soap residue and any contaminants from hard water. The toner would evaporate off the skin and leave the user with a refreshing feeling.

In today’s day and age, the idea is much the same. When using a toner, you’re removing any trace of oil or makeup on your skin left after cleansing. If you’re using a harsh cleanser, there may not be anything left. If you’re using a mild cleanser (which is the best thing you can do for your skin), then toner is supposed to take your skin to the next level of “clean.”

Toner is also supposed to tighten your pores. However, I could not find one scientific article providing evidence for this claim. Like I said, a toner isn’t necessary for everyone.

Do toners balance the pH of your skin? Not really. This is an old beauty myth that has been around forever. Your skin is naturally acidic. It stays this way pretty much at all times. After cleansing or toning, the pH of your skin stays constant. (1) It may vary slightly, but it goes back to normal within 10-20 minutes.

Different Types of Toner

There are 3 main types of toners. (2) The differences lie in the amount of alcohol in each type. The alcohol has both an astringent and antibacterial component. As the alcohol evaporates you’re left with the refreshed feeling. However, the alcohol is also responsible for the drying out effect.

Skin fresheners contain less than 10% of alcohol. These are usually your classic rosewater or green tea toners. They are mostly water plus an herbal extract. These can be used on normal to dry skin. They are the least drying because they have the least alcohol.

Skin tonics contain between 10% and 20% alcohol.

Lastly, astringents can contain anywhere from 20 to 60% alcohol. Astringents can contain ingredients like witch hazel and apple cider vinegar. They are the most drying. These should only be used by people with very, very oily skin. If you suffer from acne, these harsh toners may do more harm than good.

Do you need to use Toner?

Should you go out and purchase a toner? My advice is to save your hard earned dollars for other beauty products that give you more bang for your buck. As always, a good sunscreen is essential.

If you’re stuck on the idea of using a toner or really do need a more astringent product to get rid of the oil, consider making your own toner. These are very easy and cheap to make. I’ll refer you one of the many websites I found with recipes for making your own toner.

In conclusion, focus on cleansing and moisturizing. That’s all most people need.


  1. Eo, J., et al. “Facial skin physiology recovery kinetics during 180 min post‐washing with a cleanser.” Skin Research and Technology (2015).
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toner_(skin_care)

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