Toners – Necessary or a Waste of Money?

Toners are probably the most polarizing product in the world of skin care.  They are kind of like juice cleanses in the diet world. Not everyone agrees if they are necessary or beneficial.  And those that love them, love them and tout the benefits and those that don’t, really don’t.  With so much noise out there, how do you decide whether adding a toner to your regimen is necessary?


Why use a toner

Toners have evolved over the years from acne fighting astringents to cover any liquid product meant to be used as a second step of a regimen after your cleanser and before your moisturizer. Toners can be used to help remove excess make-up, dirt or other impurities that may have been left behind after cleansing your face.  They can also minimize the appearance of large pores and sweep away any debris and excess oil.  The new wave of toners include options that are beneficial to all skin types and have expanded to include other skin care benefits using ingredients that help fight aging, acne, and even redness so you may be able to replace another treatment product with a toner.

Why a toner isn’t necessary

If you are using cleansing oils or balms, they remove all make-up so you do not need an extra step of a toner as an added cleanse.  Balancing your skin’s pH is a reported benefit of toners, but not necessarily relevant anymore.  Most cleansers on the market have been developed for the skin on the face and are gentle enough that they do not disturb the pH. If you are looking at a toner to lock in extra moisture, you can do the same thing by applying your moisturizer within 3 minutes of cleansing.  This will prevent moisture loss.  In terms of adding anti aging or acne benefits, if you are already using a targeted treatment or a moisturizer with active ingredients, you may not need a toner to give you the benefits.

If you want to give a toner a try, it is important that you choose based on your skin type:

Oily, Combination or Acne Prone

Those that have oily or acne prone skin should look for alcohol-based toners, known as astringents since their main benefit is to remove oil and excess debris. In addition to alcohol, astringents can also have ingredients such as witch hazel, or acids (like salicylic acid) all of which can help reduce oil production and fight acne. Astringents help to clean and tighten your pores, making it harder for debris and dirt to penetrate your skin and cause irritation or breakouts.  As the weather warms up, even combination skin tends to break out.  Using a toner with salicylic acid can help gently unclogging your pores and preventing summer breakouts.  But you need to be careful not to overdo it.  If you are already controlling oil in another way, like with a salicylic acid–based cleanser or an oil-absorbing lotion, adding an astringent may be too much for your skin.  If you over strip your skin of oil, it could become overly dry and irritated and worse, it will try to overcompensate by making more oil.

Dry or sensitive skin

Use an alcohol-free toner also known as a tonic or refresher. Those with dry skin should avoid using astringents or toners that have retinols, glycolics, or benzoyl peroxide in them. These will be too drying and may even cause the skin to breakout. Instead, look for one that is water-based and has ingredients like rosewater, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and vitamin B derivatives like panthenol, which help lock in moisture.  Many of the natural brands will offer added benefits driven by plant extracts and antioxidants that work well for sensitive skin.  Ingredients to look out for- brightening agents like orange extract, antioxidants like tomato extract, bergamot, and vitamins E and A and chamomile which is very calming, especially for those with redness and any inflammation.

Our take, toners aren’t an absolute necessary step.  Toners can be beneficial, but it depends on your overall regimen, skin type and skin care concerns.  Evaluate your regimen.  Adding a toner might require you to remove another product.


Are you pro toner or against?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments or share with us on Facebook.

Want to learn more about your skin and what products are right for you?  Let your personal skin care coach OKU guide you on your journey to healthy, glowing, youthful skin!  Learn more at

Toners – Necessary or a Waste of Money?

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Toners – Necessary or a Waste of Money?

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