Not all toners are bad!
A Bad Reputation
When I ask clients whether they use toners, I often hear, "No, they dry out my skin." This is a common misconception about toner! Not all toners are drying, because not all toners are astringents! Old fashioned toners contain alcohol and other ingredients that should no longer used in modern skin care.
Toner has come a long way in the past few decades. New ingredients and a deeper understanding of the way skin works has lead to many fantastic toners that boost a skin care regimen dramatically.
Toners are multipurpose. A good toner will remove cleanser residue, balance the pH of skin, and prep the skin for other skin care products.
Skin is like a sponge, and a wet sponge absorbs more moisture and product than a dry sponge. Using a hydrating toner after cleansing will help your serum and moisturizer soak into your skin. Generally serums and moisturizers are the most expensive steps of a skin care line, and by using a toner, you maximize penetration and can also use less product, which in the long run saves money. Makeup also sits on the skin more evenly when toner is used.
There are many toners on the market, all for different purposes. Always look at the ingredients and choose a toner based on your skin type.
Ingredients to Look For
Hyaluronic acid is one of my favorite skin care ingredients and is common in many toners. It draws moisture into your skin and holds up to a thousand times its own weight in water.
Tocopheryl acetate, also known as Vitamin E, is a great antioxidant that promotes healing for overall skin health.
Salicylic acid dissolves dead skin cells inside the pore, treating existing breakouts and preventing new ones.
Witch hazel is an ingredient that in small amounts helps oil control and clear breakouts, but if it's too concentrated, it can be irritating.
Ingredients to AVOID
Alcohol has no place in skin care! Alcohol dries out skin, causing the skin to panic and produce more oil to balance itself. Alcohol breaks down the skin's barrier, making it more susceptible to damage. There are exceptions, however. Fatty alcohols such as cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol are emollients that moisturize skin.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate is a foaming agent that dries out skin.
Petroleum based ingredients claim to moisturize, but what they actually do is form a film on the surface of the skin that can keep pores from breathing. They create the feeling of a hydrated face, but they aren't actually helping your skin.
How To Use Toner
Method 1: Spray. Some toners come in a spray bottle that makes applying simple. Just hold the bottle several inches away from your face, close your eyes (this seems like a given, but you'd be surprised), and spray your face and neck.
Method 2: Cotton. Apply a small amount of toner to a cotton ball or cotton round and gently wipe over your whole face. This can be a bit more costly, since cotton can soak up product and needs to be replaced.
Method 3: Splash. To be honest, this is the lazy way- and my way! I dribble a small amount of toner in the palm of my hand, spread it around my hands, and then wipe my hands on my face. It's not the most graceful way of applying toner, but it's fast and effective. Wipe any remaining product on your hands onto your neck and chest.
My Favorite Toners
I love Bella di Terra toners- they come in spray bottles, have amazing botanical ingredients, and have the most amazing aromas.
Aveda's Skin Firming Toning Agent contains hyaluronic acid and is very refreshing. It also comes in a spray bottle.
Merle Norman's Brilliant C Toner has a fresh orange scent and contains L-ascorbic acid as well as other brighteners to help treat discoloration. Their Daily Moisture Milky Toner and AHA Combination/Dry toner are also fantastic.
Do you use a toner? What brand and type?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below!