When I was in middle school, I remember watching TV and seeing commercials for toner. Whether it was Sea Breeze, Dickinson’s or Noxzema, toners and astringents were a must-have in every at-home skincare routine. Who wouldn’t want to be dancing on the beach with a group of friends with perfectly flawless skin because you used the product? By the time I got to high school everybody seemed to be using some type of multi-step skincare kit that included toner. As I’ve gotten older, toner seems to have morphed into the redheaded stepchild of the skincare world. Some people even deem the product antiquated. I’ve had plenty of clients ask me if it’s really necessary or just another step for product junkies. “A well formulated toner improves all skin types and is a powerful ally in the fight to look younger—skipping this step means cheating your skin of soothing, repairing and hydrating ingredients skin uses to improve itself.” – Paulas Choice Skin Care
Originally, one of the main reasons for incorporating toner into a skincare routine was to balance the skin’s pH back to a more normal level after cleansing. Unless you’re still washing with a bar of soap, modern cleaners don’t alter the pH as much as they once did and they don’t leave much residue on the skin’s surface, either. With that said, toner is like a second cleansing. When it’s used properly, it removes any excess oil, makeup (think about the area at your hairline that never really gets totally clean), and any dead skin cells that remain after round one of cleansing to prep the skin for all of your active products. A clean, unadulterated surface will promote optimum efficacy of anything that comes next.
Toners use to be synonymous with acne care. They were chock-full of alcohol, menthol, and other aggressive drying ingredients that stripped all oils from the face, leaving it taut and with that squeaky-clean feeling. Toners are now formulated for all skin types. Beta and alpha hydroxy acids can be added to help exfoliate skin cells, promote healing for breakouts and even help prevent ingrown hairs. Glytone’s Acne Clearing Toner is a great example of a toner our office carries that is geared towards oily and acne-prone patients that doesn’t contain harsh irritants. If you’re dryer and more sensitive, look for a product that has humectants and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, allantoin, and green tea. Obagi’s Nu-Derm Toner is a good option with aloe vera and sage among other natural ingredients to sooth and hydrate the skin.
The bottom line is to pick a toner that is appropriate for your skin type. Stay away from any unnecessary irritants like alcohol and heavy fragrances. Find a product that has beneficial ingredients that correlate to your skin concerns, whether that’s antioxidants, moisturizers, anti-inflammatories, or acne treatment.
Summer is a great time to incorporate toner into your routine. With temperatures and humidity on the rise, a swipe of toner will help control oiliness that seems inevitable with summer. Throw it into your gym bag with some cotton rounds for a quick post-workout pick-me-up when you just don’t have time to do your entire skincare program. I like to use my toner after work to refresh my skin before touching up my makeup and heading out on the town.
Toner may not seem to be an absolute necessity in every skincare routine but if it’s properly formulated for your skin type, the benefits greatly outweigh the perceived inconvenience of using another product. It’s a great addition to any skincare program.