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Are Facial Toners Essential to Your Skin Care Routine?

They’re certainly refreshing and fragrant, but are facial toners really a necessary component for skin health?

What Exactly are Facial Toners?

Skin toners are typically used after skin washing and before moisturizing. They’re designed to balance the pH of the skin and help deliver antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients to the skin. They can prep your face for a moisturizer by hydrating, which can help with the absorption and assimilation of oils, creams, and butters.

The types of skin toners vary: The most common are alcohol-based, water-based, or water-glycerin based formulas. Ideally, you avoid the alcohol-based as it can dry out the skin. Water, or water and glycerin-based toners are better and more gentle on delicate facial skin.

How Toners Work

The beauty and magic of a good skin toner lies in its botanicals—essential oils, hydrosols, plants, flowers, seeds, and herbs, can be used in toner formulations to deliver both beneficial ingredients and a lovely, refreshing spritz. Seriously: If a toner does nothing more than cool you off and refresh your skin, it’s still a worthwhile investment—especially in the summer heat! What’s better than a beach or poolside spritz?

Toners can help to address skin issues ranging from blemishes to excess oil or dryness. Hydration is the key to healthy skin, so that is why you want a water-based product. At the very least, your toner should hydrate your skin. But since our skin absorbs nearly 70 percent of what we put on it, those botanical infusions can be complimentary, even if they seem subtle. Ingredients like witch hazel or lavender can help to even out skin tone, rose can aid dry or aging skin, chamomile can hydrate and soothe wind or sunburned skin.

How to Pick a Facial Toner

Like your soap or moisturizing faves, you want a toner that works best for your skin type. Whether you choose a serum that you apply with cotton balls or fingertips or one you spritz on with a pump spray, doesn’t matter nearly as much as the efficacy of the product and the compatibility with your unique skin type.

Serums are more efficient, if cost and sustainability are a factor in your consideration—you won’t lose as much with a serum as in a spritz. But spritzing feels really, really nice, especially during a hot day. The fragrance of a natural essential-oil-rich spritz can be (almost!) as energizing as a midday cup of coffee.

For optimal, natural skin care, you most likely want both—a dedicated toning serum to apply after cleansing and before moisturizing for deep penetration and skin-soothing benefits and a toning spritz (you can even make your own) in your purse or gym bag for whenever you need a bit of refreshing.

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