Toners have come a long way from the alcohol focused and astringent products that initially dominated skincare store shelves. These days, toner is far from a dehydrating cleanser that makes your skin feel stretched out and sensitive. Modern toners can revitalize the skin while cleansing the pores deeply for even better results for your skincare routine.
Even with all these benefits, plenty of people wonder if they even need toner. Others might wonder what it really does, especially when cleansers ostensibly wash out your pores the same way.
Today, let’s break down exactly why you need toner and what it does to supercharge your facial skincare routine.
What is Toner?
A toner is a type of facial cleansing product that looks remarkably similar to water. But it’s actually a complex product that can contain antioxidants, certain types of acids, glycerin, and much more. Toner is designed to penetrate deep into the pores of your skin and perform thorough cleansing the likes of which regular facial cleanser simply can’t match.
Toner removes not only dirt and debris packed deep into your pores, but also removes dead skin cells, excessive facial oil (called sebum), and other contaminants that can prevent your skin from looking its best. After using toner, your skin will likely look warmer, healthier, and younger than before
Although many toner types in the past contained alcohol or other astringent elements, today’s quality toner products don’t strip away helpful moisture from your skin or irritate sensitive skin.
How Does Toner Help?
If facial cleanser already gets rid of dirt and debris from your pores, is toner really necessary? While facial cleanser is quite important, it’s mostly good for getting rid of surface-level debris and dead skin cells. Think of it as a type of cleansing soap specialized for getting rid of the majority of gunk and dirt that you accumulate from a day out and about.
Toner uses other ingredients that can penetrate deeper into your skin and perform deeper cleaning. Regular cleanser simply isn’t powerful or penetrating enough to do this.
Basically, toner finalizes the cleansing process and leaves your pores open, clean, and ready to accept serums and moisturizers like you might use during a holistic facial skincare routine. In fact, because toner clears away your pores to a greater degree than regular cleanser does, it makes moisturizers and serums all the more effective.
Common Ingredients in Good Toners
Like with all skincare products, there are good toners and bad toners. The difference often lies in the ingredients.
- Salicylic or other acids. These are often primary or active ingredients that can clear away oil and dirt without excessively drying out your skin. Salicylic acid derived from white willow bark is a great, natural choice compared to something made in a lab.
- High-potency rose concentrate. This special compound is made from organic roses and is extracted through special processes to provide your skin with extra vitamins and antioxidants.
- Vitamins and minerals. These are important since they give your skin the building blocks it needs to rebuild itself after a thorough cleansing routine. It’ll also help your skin regenerate more quickly and create new, healthier skin cells to replace the dead ones you just cleared away.
- Other oils. Many excellent facial toners contain a variety of flower oils. These help give the toner its consistency and allow it to be absorbed quickly by your skin. More importantly, they prevent the toner from drying out your skin too much for comfort.
Always prioritize toners that contain most or all of these ingredients. Suki Skincare’s Concentrated Strengthening Toner is a great example!
Toner vs. Cleanser vs. Moisturizers vs. Serums
It’s easier to understand what toner is if you compare it to other key skincare products.
- Cleansers are often the first step of a holistic facial skincare routine. These are gel or liquid products that can cleanse your pores and get rid of all the surface level impurities on your skin. This clears away some space for your pores to breathe and makes your skin flush with color. Unencumbered by dead skin cells and dirt, new skin cells will take their place and make it look and feel a lot better.
- Moisturizers and lotions are often used after toners since they can rehydrate your skin and create a barrier of moisture that prevents your skin from losing water to the environment. Your skin needs to maintain a certain level of hydration to stay balanced and keep a solid pH level. This also prevents your skin from becoming wrinkly or cracked over time.
- Serums are specialized products that can give your skin a boost of vitamins and other nourishing ingredients. Because a full, deep cleansing routine can get be a little tough on your skin, serums are necessary to help your skin regenerate and recover in a reasonable timeframe. Many of the most effective serums include retinol, which helps your skin produce more collagen, and hyaluronic acid, a moisturizing agent that stops your skin from becoming too dry, just like the moisturizers above.
As you can see, toner stands apart from all these other products, and is responsible for the deepest cleaning out of all of them.
Is Toner Really Necessary?
Absolutely. While you might feel you can get away with just using a cleanser (and this is true to some extent), you won’t achieve the full level of deep cleansing necessary to look your best or help your skin feel excellent over the long-term.
Because your pores become packed with dirt, debris, and dead skin cells over the course of every day, they progressively become less able to cleanse themselves and replace dead skin cells with new ones. If left untreated, your skin will eventually become drier and more wrinkly.
Toner gives your pores the space they really need to breathe and supercharges the cellular regeneration process. Cell turnover skyrockets, meaning newer and younger-looking cells take the place of old, dead cells much more rapidly. Your skin will literally look and feel younger because the cells on the surface are younger!
This is why people who use toner consistently often have more colorful faces, softer skin, and skin with fewer wrinkles. Think of toner as a way to recycle the skin on your face. With each new reset, your skin looks just as healthy and youthful as the day before.
What Place Does Toner Have in a Perfect skincare Routine?
An ideal skincare routine will use all of the major skincare products described above in a particular order.
- First off is the cleanser. You should wait and wash your face with a cleanser as the first part of any deep cleansing routine since the cleanser itself won’t strip away healthy oils and moisture. But it can still get rid of the majority of dirt and dead skin cells on your face.
- Next comes a great toner. Suki Skincare’s Concentrated Clarifying Toner is a particularly good choice thanks to its ingredients and its ability to balance your oil and bacteria production. Using this toner will deep cleanse your pores without disrupting your skin’s overall balance and hydration.
- Then you should use a serum, especially since many high quality serums come with moisturizing agents themselves. Using a serum next allows the nourishing vitamins and minerals to reach the very bottom of your pores and be absorbed that much more quickly.
- Then comes the moisturizer or lotion. Do this last since you can revitalize your skin and infuse it with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, sealing away the helpful nutrients provided by the serum while protecting your skin from the dry air around you.
After using all four of these products, then you can move on to extra steps like lip balms, eye creams, and sunscreen. Sunscreen is particularly important to protect your face – newer skin cells on the surface are vulnerable to damage from the sun's rays. Be sure to use sunscreen if you spend any significant amount of time outdoors.
A good skincare routine should be completed at least once per day, although twice-daily is also acceptable if you don’t have overly sensitive skin.
How To Apply Toner
Toner is meant to be applied only in small batches. You can sprinkle a little bit onto your hands, then tap it onto your face. Rub the toner in your skin by moving your fingers in concentric circles until the toner product is fully absorbed. Then move on to the other steps of your facial care routine outlined above.
Toner is far from a nearly optional inclusion for a holistic skincare routine. It provides a level of cleansing and purity that other steps can’t match, and it’s crucial if you want any serum you use to be as effective as possible. With the right toner, you’ll avoid drying out your skin and still benefit from newer, younger, and healthier skin each and every day.