Do You Really Need Toner? (Plus, the Best Toner for Glowing Skin)

Hint: It’s not just for hormonal teenagers anymore
BY Sarah Lim
| Last updated Apr, 2023
Best toner for glowing skin

Toner is one of those skincare products that gets everyone confused. Should you use one? Which one is the best toner for glowing skin? Is it OK to skip it? Does it really matter? So. Many. Questions!

In the past, toners were considered exclusively for people with oily skin, as they contained alcohol which would—the theory goes—remove excess oil to reduce blemishes. The problem? Many of these toners dried skin out so much that they actually triggered more breakouts.

Today’s toners are different from the harsh ones you remember, and they’re not just for oily or acne-prone skin. Instead, each one has its own unique ingredients. Toner contains a powerful punch of botanicals designed to hydrate and soothe YOUR skin. But the question is still there: do you really need a toner? So let’s dig deeper into what toner is actually used for and talk about the best toner for glowing skin!

What Is Toner Designed to Do Exactly?

Toner has many different benefits, but its primary one is to make it easier for your skin to absorb your skincare products. In this process, toner can:

  • Clean any debris left behind after cleansing
  • Remove dead skin cells
  • Balance YOUR skin’s pH
  • Hydrate skin to prep it for serums and moisturizer

But, wait—if toner really does all this, why do you need any other skincare products? The answer is that toner supports your other products. For example, most facial cleansers tend to have a low pH (read: acidic!), so toner helps RESTORE your skin’s pH balancing. So, think of toner as the primer of your skincare routine!

When to Use Toner?

You can use toner twice a day in the morning and evening, but you should always use it after cleansing. For example, if you double-cleanse or exfoliate, you can still use a toner afterward.

Ideally, you should aim to use the toner immediately after cleansing while the skin is still slightly wet. It helps lock in moisture and gives toner its best chance to do its job. Then, proceed with your other skincare products.

So when can you skip toner? If you use a facial mist, which can be very similar to toner, you can skip toner as long as your facial mist is doing the job of the toner (preparing YOUR skin for nutrients!). People who use micellar water, oil, or balm cleansers may also choose to skip toner, as these cleansers can already be pretty moisturizing, and toner won’t have as much of an effect.

The Best Toners for Every Glowing Skin (According to Your Skin Type)

When it comes to the best face toner for glowing skin, every skin type will have different priorities. Toner is meant to make skin look dewy and supple, but if you use the wrong toner for your skin type, you could experience dryness and irritation. Let’s talk about a few key ingredients for each skin type:

Normal Skin

Normal skin types have the benefit of not being too picky about their toner. But if you’re a normal skin type and choose to use toner, look for beneficial ingredients such as rose water, which has been shown to help soothe skin and fight certain types of damage, including premature skin aging from stress. If you’re a normal skin type but tend to get drier in the winter, look for a toner with algae extract, which can help replenish drier skin for a supple look and feel!

Oily Skin

For oily skin types, you don’t want a harsh toner. While alcohol-based toners can be beneficial for some people with oily skin, some dermatologists recommend that all skin types avoid alcohol in skincare products.

If your skin is oily and struggles with acne or frequent breakouts, consider a toner with:

YOU can also look for a toner with witch hazel, although many types of witch hazel contain alcohol, so use your best judgment when deciding which products are suitable for your skin!

Dry Skin

For dry and dull skin, look for a toner with hyaluronic acid, which helps skin retain water and reduces the appearance of skin aging. Since dry skin types are more susceptible to premature skin aging, a toner with hyaluronic acid is a must!

You definitely want an alcohol-free toner and can also look for one with ceramides, which can help protect skin’s natural barrier and keep you hydrated and glowy. Dry skin types can also benefit from a toner with vitamin C for an added brightening effect (and reduced fine lines and wrinkles from sun damage!), along with glycerin for even more moisture.

Combination Skin

As the most common of all skin types, combination needs some extra love. To help both the dry and oily parts of your face, try a toner with witch hazel. You can also look for aloe vera and green tea, which can help oily skin and reduce breakouts without being drying.

Glycolic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), and it can be beneficial for combination skin types. It may help boost YOUR skin’s collagen production and improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin, and even soothe acne.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin types can benefit from more natural ingredients for added soothing and hydrating toner properties. Choose ingredients such as aloe vera and chamomile, both of which have a long history of being used to SOOTHE dry and inflamed skin.

Niacinamide is another excellent ingredient in toners for sensitive skin. It helps stabilize the skin’s natural barrier, preventing transepidermal water loss, SMOOTH wrinkles, and have an anti-inflammatory effect in people with acne and sensitive skin.

Do You Use Toner in Your Skincare Routine?

Using a toner doesn’t always have an immediate effect on all skin types—some people can take a few weeks to notice the differences. And, choosing the best toner for glowing skin is tough. So. if you’re new to skin toner, don’t give up if you don’t see instant results!

Are you a fan of toner? What effect does it have on YOUR skin? Let us know if you use toner and what kind in the comments below!

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