What Does Facial Toner Actually Do?

What Does Facial Toner Actually Do?
At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW - prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

When it comes to your skincare routine, it probably feels like you’re already lathering on way too many products — cleansers, serums, oils, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, moisturiser — so a facial toner feels like something you can skip. However, we’re here to make a case for why you shouldn’t. 

What is facial toner?

Traditionally, facial toners were made to remove leftover makeup, dirt, and oil post-cleanse. Early formulas often got a bad wrap for being very astringent and drying. However, these days, toning formulas are a great way to make sure your skin is getting an extra dose of those active ingredients it desperately needs. Plus, they’re mostly alcohol-free, so they’re not as drying as the one you tried out in high school. 

What does it do?

Whether your skin is acne-prone and needs excess oil removed, or dry and thirsting for more moisture, the right toner could be the perfect solution. One of the major benefits of facial toners is that they help to balance the skin’s pH levels, restoring an acidic mantel. This means the skin is clean and clear to absorb your serums and moisturisers better.

When and how to use a toner?

Facial toners typically sit somewhere between your cleanser and your serums. You can use it both day and night and either swipe it on with a cotton pad or dab it into the skin with your fingers like you would a serum or oil. They’re also best applied while the skin is still damp, so we’d recommend cleansing your face in the shower, stepping out and applying your toner while your your pores are open and your skin is still damp.

Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best facial toners depending on your skin type, so you can find one that works effortlessly into your routine. 

Oily: Laneige Essential Power Skin Toner for Combination to Oily Skin, $40

tone
Image: Sephora

This hydrating toner from Laneige helps to replenish the skin and retain moisture levels. It’s formulated with hydro ionised mineral water — which contains moisture-maximising minerals like zinc, manganese, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and potassium — as well as Vitamin B3 to hydrate and brighten the skin.

You can buy Laneige Essential Power Skin Toner for Combination to Oily Skin ($40) from Sephora here.

Acne-prone: FRESH Umbrian Clay Purifying Facial Toner, $50

Facial toner
Image: Sephora

The Umbrian Clay Purifying Facial Toner works to absorb excess oil on the skin’s surface without stripping it of much-needed moisture. It helps to mattify and soften the texture of the skin while minimising the appearance of pores. Formulated with Fresh’s proprietary mineral-rich Umbrian clay, this balancing toner combats skin congestion and purifies acne-prone skin.

Buy the FRESH Umbrian Clay Purifying Facial Toner, $50) from Sephora here.

Dry: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner, $36

Image: Sephora

The First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner is an alcohol-free, oatmeal-powered toner that hydrates and soothes dry skin while supporting overall skin health for a more balanced complexion. The wild oats work to relieve irritated skin, while the hyaluronic acid boosts the skin’s moisture content, helping it appear smoother and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Buy the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner ($36) from Sephora here.

Sensitive: Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner, $36

Image: Adore Beauty

For those of us with sensitive skin, Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner is a soothing and mildly astringent toner that works to perfectly balance your complexion post-cleansing, without the need for harsh or stripping ingredients. It’s formulated with cucumber extract and allantoin which both help to soothe and calm irritation. 

Buy the Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner ($36) from Adore Beauty here. 

Dull: Murad Essential-C Toner, $48

Facial toner
Image: Sephora

Murad’s unique formula helps to restore radiance to your skin and delivers antioxidants to help fight free radicals. Formulated with coneflower and liquorice root extracts, it works to tone and brighten your skin, while natural moisture factors like rice amino acids, as well as vitamin C, help your skin to retain moisture, leaving you with a healthy glow.

Buy the Murad Essential-C Toner ($48) from Sephora here.

Mature: Pixi Glow Tonic, $25

Image: Adore Beauty

This brightening facial toner from Pixi is a cult favourite. It lifts away dead skin cells, hydrates, and calms sensitive skin. The 5% concentration of glycolic acid also helps to firm and tighten, giving a more youthful appearance. One swipe and your skin is left feeling renewed, balanced, and ready to soak up your anti-ageing serums and oils. 

Buy the Pixi Glow Tonic ($25) from Adore Beauty here. 

Log in to comment on this story!