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What Is Toner And Why Should You Use It In Your Routine?


What is toner? Since its inception, many skincare enthusiasts may be wary towards toner and what it can potentially do to your skin.

To most, toner is that product you heard about once but have memories of it drying your skin out. Many users don’t know what it actually does, or how far toners have come since the days of formulations containing harsh alcohol in them. 

Depending on the ingredients, toner can help a myriad of problems – it can add hydration to your skin, sweep away dead skin cells or bring vibrancy back to dull skin.

Let’s get into uncovering exactly what toner is, the different types available and why it’s a crucial step for your skincare routine.


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What Is Toner And What Are The Benefits?

In a nutshell, skin toner is a super-cleanser, it helps balance the pH of your skin after cleansing, prepares your skin for any serums or creams that follow and helps give the appearance of smaller pores. 

Now, contrary to popular belief in the beauty community, you can’t change the size of your pores. However, what you can do is apply toner and other exfoliating products to minimize their size by unclogging them of oil and debris.

However, when asking the question of “what is toner,” thinking of it as only a thorough skin-cleaning aid minimizes the other benefits of toner. Toner often sweeps away excess oil with other impurities. And depending on the ingredients, toner can add hydration to your skin, sweep away dead skin cells and bring your skin back to a healthy pH.

A toner is a sure-fire way to keep your skin acidity happy. What’s more is that changes in our skin’s pH level are reported to play a crucial role in skin diseases like acne, contact dermatitis, psoriasis.

Okay, so the pH thing sounds complicated, but it’s really not. Your skin is naturally acidic – that’s its happy place. But many face washes are very alkaline, and use of them throws your skin pH off. That means that your face has to work extra hard to get back to its ideal pH. 

What Does A Toner Do?

Overall, Korean toners, in particular, are designed to be very hydrating. They work to balance your skin’s pH levels and prep your skin to absorb the products to come. In addition to giving your skin an intense boost of hydration, you can get a few different formulations that can even exfoliate or brighten your skin.

If you’re unfamiliar, studies show that you need to use pH appropriate cleansing products, especially those with a pH of about 5.5 (or generally ranging between 4.5 and 6.0). The skin’s pH desirable zone is between 4.5 and 5.5. That’s why following up with toner is important to reset your skin’s pH balance after your cleansing step. 

Don’t fear, products usually write pH levels on their website or the bottle, or you can get a pH testing kit on Amazon if you’re unsure. 

Curious about all the great things toner can do for you?

Learn all about what toners do in this useful guide. 

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Types of Toners

There are hundreds of toners on the market and it can be intimidating trying to figure out if you’re choosing the right one for you. They offer so many more benefits to a toner than cleansing – there are brightening, acne-fighting and hydration benefits. That is, depending on the toner you have.

For example, for sensitive skin, toners containing aloe vera are great for this skin type as they offer soothing benefits. Or if you’re acne-prone, toners with salicylic acid help exfoliate away dead skin and helps boost collagen production. 

There’s a lot to consider. That’s why we’ve created a guide to the types of toners you can buy to reduce the confusion! 

No matter what, I religiously study ingredients before putting anything on my skin. By studying, I mean using ingredient-analysis tools like CosDNA and SkinCarisma that make the process that much easier.


When To Use Toner In Your Skincare Routine

When it comes to your skincare ritual, you could be doing any number of step combinations. We’ve outlined some easy guides for following 3-step, 5-step, 7-step and 10-step routines if you’re in the process of narrowing this down.

As a general rule though, no matter the number of steps you do, toner is used after you cleanse. 

You can either pat it gently on to your skin lightly with your fingers or use a cotton pad, but check out this guide on when to use toner just to be sure you’re using it in the correct order.

How To Use Toner Exactly 

So, as flexible as toner is now, it still has specific rules of engagement. Ultimately, when you’re trying to figure out how to apply toner on the face, you must be clear on you and your skin’s personal concerns. 

As we said, you only use a toner after cleansing and always before you choose to moisturize. So, after cleansing, following up with a toner will help sweep away any debris, makeup, or sweat left over from washing your face. 

For a face that is used to heavy makeup or sunscreen use, (which, let’s be honest, you should be wearing sunscreen) this is a godsend. 

Final Thoughts On What Is Toner

Even if you are short on time and can’t commit to the full 10 steps of a skincare ritual, toner is one step that shouldn’t be missed. The newer generation of toners works to re-balance and hydrate – there’s no more fear of drying out. 

What type of toner has worked for your skin type? Let us know @kiseu

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