There are so many different types of toners available, where do you start?
Toners are one of the most confusing and controversial products in the skincare world. Some people claim they’re unnecessary, while others swear by their staple bottle.
While toners are known to be a great additional cleanser after you wash your face, they offer so many more perks – there are brightening, acne-fighting and hydration benefits. That is, depending on the toner you have.
Below, we’ll lay out some general types of toners so you can find the ideal toner for your routine. You’ll learn to recognize certain ingredients and whether they’re the right ones for your skin type.
The Different Types of Toners
In general, toners can be divided by how harsh of an effect they have on your skin. A regular toner will most likely contain more natural, soothing ingredients. Its main goal is to thoroughly cleanse your skin after you have washed your face. These days, most toners have come a long way but it’s always worth double-checking that there isn’t a low concentration of alcohol that will dry you out even more.
This is crucial – we recommend staying away from toners with:
- Synthetic fragrances
- Alcohol, which can be listed as:
- Ethanol or ethyl alcohol
- Denatured alcohol
- Isopropyl alcohol
- SD alcohol
- Benzyl alcohol
An astringent (the harsher cousin of the toner) usually has a higher alcohol content than regular toners. While it also helps to deep-clean your skin, astringents can also be helpful at removing excess oil.
When deciding which toner is right for you, it’s important to take into account your skin type. Different toners contain active ingredients that work magic for some skin types and havoc for others.
For example, astringent toners containing alcohol can be great for removing excess oil for oily skin types, but can irritate already-dry skin types. In comparison, acne-prone or oily skin types may find that an astringent is helpful for them, while people with dry, sensitive skin should probably stick with gentle toners. One solution to this is experimenting with a DIY toner.
The Types of Toners For Your Skin Type
Nowadays, the market for toner is so large that it can be daunting trying to shop for the right one. Instead, look for toners that have ingredients you know will work with your skin. So, where to start?
If your skin is flaky or prone to dry patches, hydrating and soothing ingredients will be your best friends. But buyer beware. A lot of ‘Western’ toners still contain alcohol in them as a hangover from the original toners that were designed to strip oil from the skin. If alcohol is a major ingredient in your toner, you might be causing additional dryness and irritation to your skin.
Instead, ingredients like aloe and hyaluronic acid can help your skin retain moisture, rather than pulling it all out. Glycerin and butylene glycol are also notable humectants that will help your skin look plump and moisturized, not flaky and dry. Therefore, make sure your type of toner has these ingredients in them if you have dry skin.
If you have consistently oily skin, you might need to opt for a stronger, more astringent type of toner. Alcohol is a very popular ingredient for removing excess oil and making pores appear smaller, but this harsh ingredient is not your only option. Witch hazel is a natural astringent that can remove oil without the harshness of alcohol.
Saw palmetto (a type of palm) and salicylic acid are other great ingredients to look for if you want to tone down your oily skin, make your pores appear smaller, and reduce the chance of breakouts. Note the use of the word ‘appear’ smaller. You can’t physically alter the size of your pores as that’s genetic. What you can do is use a toner that can give you the appearance of smaller pores.
View this post on Instagram
If your skin is easily irritated by traditional types of toners, I beg of you, avoid alcohol-based toners at all costs. These could leave your face even redder and more sensitive than when you started. If you deal with constant sensitivity, your ideal toner will have simple and soothing ingredients to calm your skin.
Natural ingredients like rose and cornflower extracts will soothe your skin, and toning lotions are ultra-sensitive formulas that moisturize your skin with their thicker formulas.
Toners with heavy fragrances may also be irritating, so it can be helpful to opt for fragrance-free formulas.
It’s always disheartening to lose that effortless 20-year-old skin glow, but using the right type of toner can help you fight dullness and texture issues that you may be experiencing. AHA’s, like lactic acid, can exfoliate dulling skin to make it shine again.
Glycolic acid can even promote collagen production and strengthen your skin so it bounces back. More natural ingredients like orange blossom water and rose water can bring back precious moisture, too.
If you deal with regular breakouts or are even fighting hyperpigmentation from past acne, then acids are the way to go. Glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids can all help unclog pores and fight excess oil. These alpha-hydroxy acids can also aid in healing dark marks and hyperpigmentation by breaking up the pigment and helping your skin tone become more even.
If you’re interested, check out our guide on these acids here.
Frustrated by products that only kind of work for your complexion? Types of toners that have lactic acid – a diverse AHA that works for a variety of skin types – can gently exfoliate your skin, leaving behind a glowy finish.
Natural ingredients like allantoin (which fights inflammation) and burdock root (which hydrates) are ingredients becoming more popular for their ability to soothe skin. Look for alcohol-free toners, as these can further irritate your skin.
Final Thoughts On The Different Types Of Toners
While toners can be confusing at times, there’s a lot of good they can do, too. Knowing what different ingredients do, and how they react with your skin’s natural chemistry can make all the difference. In the past, toners were harsh and had high alcohol contents. Today, there are hundreds of gentler options that can yield great results.
If you have a rough history with toners, chances are you were using one that had a high alcohol percentage, or the wrong ingredients for your skin type. With just a little bit of research, you can find the right type of toner that not only cleanses your skin, but helps you achieve the skin goals that matter to you.
As for where toner’s enter into your routine, traditionally, toner should be applied right after you cleanse your skin, and it should help prep your skin for the rest of your routine. But read more on that here.