I don’t know about you, but skin care has come a long way since I was in high school, where it was drilled into me that I needed to adhere to a three-step routine of cleansing, toning and moisturising to ensure that my skin stayed healthy.
Then, for some reason, facial toners became taboo - we were told that it was no longer necessary to apply toner before a moisturiser. Instead, we started reaching for supercharged serums to target specific skin concerns such as dry skin (try hyaluronic acid), pigmentation (vitamin C is a top choice for this), or even fine lines and wrinkles (retinol, we’re looking for you).
As for 2019? We're starting to recognise that facial toners are actually a necessary step. “You need a toner because your cleanser takes everything away, and your toner replenishes what you’re missing,” says Becky Watkins, Associate Vice President of Global Education at SkinCeuticals. “It balances out the skin and prepares for your serum to penetrate better.”
Here are five things you should know about facial toners, including why they're necessary in every skin care routine:
1 / Facial toners are different to essences
Despite having similar textures, toners have a different purpose to essences. "An essence and a toner are different,“ tells Watkins. "An essence is really like a watered-down serum so it has more nutritional properties than toner and not as much as a serum."
What skin toners are ace at is removing any residue that your cleanser may have missed, and as well as helping to restore the pH level of your skin, which is essential in building resilience in your skin and maintaining optimal skin health. An essence’s role is to help restore moisture or act as an extra nourishing step.
2 / Facial toners can leave your skin feeling fresh
While they may not soften your skin as much as an essence can, they're still really effective at refreshing your skin. "Your skin should not feel tight [after using a] toner. If you’re using a toner and your skin feels tight, you should go [for a] more moisturising version."
3 / Don’t be scared by the alcohol content in facial toners
Skin toners often receive a bad rap as they frequently contain alcohol, however, alcohol may not be to blame for your dry skin issues; it could be due to other ingredients such as AHAs that are too harsh for your skin type, and therefore strip your skin of its oils. “It’s really important [to] understand the differences in alcohols,” says Watkins. “There are some alcohols that are designed to bind all of the ingredients, and then you have some toners that are meant for oily skin that have more alcohol to absorb that extra sebum.” In short, there's no need to limit yourself to only using alcohol-free toners.
4 / Facial toners can be easily incorporated into your skin care routine
The rule of thumb with using toner is to apply is right after washing your face. "Most people would use the products in the following order: cleanser, toner, essence and then serum [and moisturiser]," explains Watkins.
5 / Facial toners are easy to use
It may seem like a chore to add another step to your skin care routine, but we promise you, it's an easy step that'll take less than a minute. The best way to apply a toner is to distribute several drops onto a cotton pad, then swipe it over your face, neck and chest. Wait for your toner to dry before applying the rest of your skin care routine.
Ready to add a facial toner to your skin care routine? Here are some of the best toners we recommend:
Best toner for combination or oily skin: SkinCeuticals Equalizing Toner
In addition to witch hazel for oil control, this one from SkinCeuticals features aloe and chamomile to soothe, as well as gentle AHAs to lightly exfoliate your face and address uneven skin tone.
If you’re after more recommendations for the best toners for oily skin, read these reviews by our SUPERcrew members.
Best toner for sensitive skin: Dermalogica Ultracalming Mist
Those with sensitive skin should give this one a go. It's filled with botanical ingredients such as ginger root extract and aloe leaf juice to soothe and keep redness at bay.
Best toner for normal skin: Murad Resurgence Hydrating Toner
For those with normal skin, you're going to want to try this hydrating toner from Murad, which smells super yummy and feels really lightweight on skin. The reason why this facial toner is a top favourite in the Beauty Crew office is because it offers antioxidant protection, and is enriched with vitamin C to encourage collagen production.
Want to learn more about skin essences? Here’s why it’s also worth adding an essence to your skin care routine.
What’s your favourite toner at the moment, and why? Or if you don’t currently use one, which one of our recommended toners would you add to your wish list? Let us know in the comments below.
Main image credit: @georgiafowler
Iantha is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor, and has been part of the team since the site launched in 2016. Besides pinot noir, she has a healthy obsession with fake tan smell, wispy false lashes and CND Shellac in the shade Romantique. Her words and styling can also be found in Virgin Australia Voyeur, Women's Health, and previously in SHOP Til You Drop and Cosmopolitan.