There could be just one thing standing between you and clearer skin: toner. If you don’t currently have one in your skincare routine, there are a few reasons why it’s worth adding a (very simple) step to your regimen.
Toners are an excellent way to get a deeper clean that can help improve the appearance of skin. Toners are able to get the dirt and debris left behind after you wash your face, helping to reduce the chance of breakouts or clogged pores. Toners help to reduce the size of pores, which not only helps to ward off breakouts, it can also make your skin appear younger. They also balance the skin’s pH levels after cleansing, which is necessary to keep your skin healthy.
Toners are especially beneficial for people with oily and acne-prone skin, but some toners also provide hydration, helping to minimize the appearance of scars while giving skin some added brightness. Most toners were previously made with alcohol, which could strip skin of moisture, but now toners boast hydration qualities that make them a must-have for your daily routine.
Toners should be used no less than one minute after washing your face with a cleanser. The majority of toners are applied with cotton pads (SPY has received a sample of the eco-friendly LastObject Cotton Rounds and no longer have to feel guilty about filling landfills with cotton balls). Toners for sensitive skin are typically safe for twice-daily use, while toners with more acne-fighting properties may be better for night use only.
So, which toner should you be using? Check out our favorites below.
1. Thayers Rose Petal Toner
Natural rose essence, vitamin E and Thayer’s proprietary witch hazel formulation will balance out combination skin by soothing dry areas and regulating oily areas by not stripping skin with harsh solutions like alcohol. A fan favorite with a massive following, Thayers can help control acne, minimize the appearance of pores and help to reduce redness and inflammation from breakouts. The alcohol-free toner helps to balance the user’s skin pH and gently moisturize.
2. Andalou Clementine + C Illuminating Toner
Andalou uses vitamin C, a naturally occurring skin brightener and antioxidant, and pairs it with aloe vera to help reduce traces of dullness and dryness. By infusing the skin with hydration and reducing the signs of damage from UV and hyperpigmentation, the toner helps to make skin look and feel younger. A spray pump applicator makes refreshing your complexion even easier.
3. La Roche-Posay Clarifying Toner
GOOD FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN
If you’re prone to acne, a clarifying toner is a vital product to have in your arsenal. Keep pores clear from oil, dead skin and dirt build-up while also calming irritated skin are key to managing flare-ups with the LaRoche-Posay Clarifying Toner. A gentle dose of salicylic acid helps to treat and prevent breakouts without aggravating sensitive skin.
4. Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner
SAFE FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
This famously old-school brand founded by European skincare guru to the stars, Mario Badescu, is still around because their products just work. Those with sensitive skin can still get the skin clearing and balancing benefits of a toner with this ultra-gentle, aloe-vera based product. Free from alcohol, this toner won’t leave skin feeling dry but it will help to clean out clogged pores.
5. Paula’s Choice Pore Reducing Toner
GOOD FOR OILY SKIN
Paula’s Choice Pore Reducing Toner is packed with antioxidants and hydrating ceramides that help balance skin so oily areas are less noticeable and overall complexion becomes more even and smooth in tone. Ideal for users with oily or combination skin or anyone with enlarged pores who are prone to breakouts, this toner helps to remove any traces of dirt left to prevent future breakouts and minimize the appearance of pores.
6. Oil Eliminator Refreshing Shine Control Toner for Men by Kiehls
FOR COMBINATION SKIN
Want a toner that is easy to use and safe for both combination and oily skin? Enter the Oil Eliminator Refreshing Shine Control Toner for Men by Kiehls. The fine mist can be applied directly to the skin using the bottles’ spray pump, making it easy to incorporate a toner into your skincare regime. Free from parabens and sulfates, the oil-free toner neutralizes excess oil and reduces the appearance of pores. We also like that skin looks less shiny thanks to the mists’ matte finish.
7. Oil Control Toner by Jack Black
Toners that help get rid of the excess oil that makes skin look shiny can sometimes leave skin overly dried, but that’s not the case with the Oil Control Toner by Jack Black. Free from alcohol, which can leave skin parched, Jack Black uses red microalgae to remove excess oil from the skin and protect it against the elements. Witch hazel is also included in the toner, which can help clean out pores by removing dirt and oil. The toner also includes alpha and beta hydroxy acids, which make pores appear smaller.
8. Starface Exfoliating Night Water Toner
HELPS TO LIGHTEN SCARS
One of the newer products on our list is the Starface Exfoliating Night Water Toner and it’s already developing a cult following. SPY was given a bottle of toner to try out and we were impressed with its ability to exfoliate and help prevent breakouts. The oil-free toner uses AHA, BHA, PHA, and glycerin to help clean up pores and minimize the appearance of blackheads. The toner also has niacinamide and onion bulb extracts, which have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to remove dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of scars. The toner may be too strong for users with sensitive skin, but those prone to acne and scarring may find their new fave with Starface.
9. Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner
SAFE FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
One of the first products released by Kiehls was its Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, which has been available for 60 years. The alcohol-free toner is ideal for sensitive skin since it uses calendula, allantoin, and great burdock root, which soothes skin and gently cleanses the face without leaving it feeling dry. A good option for users with normal and oily skin, the toner is part of a full lineup of calendula products offered by the Canadian skincare brand.
10. Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum by Fenty Skin
Rihanna’s new Fenty Skin isn’t just for bad gals — rude boys are invited too. The unisex line of skincare includes a two-in-one toner and serum product that is ‘Rihanna’s fave step in her skincare routine,’ according to the brand. Good enough for us! The toner-serum combo helps to brighten skin, reduce the appearance of pores, lighten dark spots, and has the intense hydration and plumping qualities of a serum. Plus, it goes on like a moisturizer, which means no need for a cotton pad.
11. Ceylon Facial Toner
FOR DARK SKIN TONES
Ceylon Skincare founder Patrick Boateng II had difficulty finding a skincare line that was made for men with melanin in their skin. So, he made one. Using naturally derived ingredients like witch hazel, lavender, glycerin and propylene glycol, the cruelty-free toner helps to improve skin tone and texture by pulling moisture to the surface. The toner also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help some users reduce the appearance of acne.
12. Hydra Life Balancing Hydration 2-in-1 Sorbet Water by Dior
The Hydra Life Balancing Hydration 2-in-1 Sorbet Water by Dior comes with a price tag that may add a few new wrinkles to your face, but the sticker shock does come with good news. The multipurpose product has several benefits that will help improve the appearance of your skin. Using prebiotics, Hydra Life acts as a powerful toning lotion that hydrates skin and helps bring it back into balance. Safe for daily use, the toner uses mineral powders to help reduce the appearance of pores and other skin imperfections. We also like that Hydra Life helps to clean up pores and has a soothing effect, making it safe for even sensitive skin types.
13. KLAIRS Supple Preparation Facial Toner
SOOTHES AND MOISTURIZES
For another toner that works overtime to provide several benefits to users, we like the KLAIRS Supple Preparation Facial Toner. Using botanical extracts, Lipidure and Beta-Glucan, the toner helps to balance pH levels. Skin looks and feels more hydrated and the toner has a calming and soothing effect even on users with sensitive skin. Klairs absorbs quickly and goes on after a cleanser to provide the much-needed moisture that can sometimes be lost when using a face wash.
14. Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Toner
ABSORBS EXCESS OIL
If you have combination or oily skin and are prone to breakouts, adding Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Toner to your skincare regimen may give you the results you’ve been looking for. The toner uses Jeju Volcanic Clusters and silica microparticles to help absorb excess sebum and oil and cleanse pores, leaving skin with a matte complexion. The toner also uses lactic acid, which can help to remove dead skin cells and make pores appear smaller.