Once seen as that unnecessary extra step in a skincare regime, having suffered from a more astringent reputation in the past, fast-forward to today and toners are targeted, technology-based treatments, formulated to give that extra boost to your moisturisation steps, and, to tackle a variety of skin concerns.
Weighing in in a variety of formulations and textures from essences to alcohol-free, lotions to tonics, how effective your toner is can depend on the ingredients it contains and how they interact with your skin. Find the right toner for your needs and it can purify, brighten, clarify and even hydrate skin to give a clearer and more radiant complexion.
While they are useful for removing residue often left by cleansers, there is so much more to the new generation of toners. Adding an extra element of deep-level exfoliation than the more surface-focused granular exfoliants, sweeping away dead skin cells, penetrating sebum production, priming and polishing, a toner can help your serum and moisturiser really reach the lower layers of your epidermis more effectively.
The Skin Types...
Over the years, toners have somewhat fallen out of grace with those of the more dry-to-sensitive skin types, while remaining key for those with oily or blocked pores. But with so many new toners out there, all skin types can reap the benefits if carefully targeted.
Dry Or Sensitive Skin
Opt for alcohol-free and fragrance-free formulations as these ingredients can inflame and irritate sensitive skin. Instead, look for toners that contain rosewater which is excellent for clarifying and hydrating skin while soothing and calming redness, or chamomile and aloe vera which both help to fight inflammation and have wonderful complexion-comforting properties.
For normal skin there is a variety of options, including toners that contain AHAs (glycolic or lactic acid). These are potentially helpful for dry-to-normal skin as they help dissolve sebum and slough off dead skin cells, binding in the moisture to the layers of epidermis. For other concerns, such as anti-ageing or hydration, look to the list below to find your perfect toner.
Oily Or Blemish-Prone Skin
Look for ingredients to heal and repair the skin’s surface and tackle grease and sebum production. For the more blemish-prone it’s best to opt for alcohol-free to avoid irritation. BHAs - salicylic acid is helpful for soaking up and penetrating through oil, cleaning out pores with its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, while silica is useful for absorbing excess grease. Look out for ‘non-comedogenic’ on the packaging which means it has been tested and proven not to block or clog pores.
La Prairie Cellular Softening
And Balancing Lotion
When it comes to creating skin-sensitive products to nourish and care for the complexion, La Prairie is one of our go-tos. A refreshing and re-balancing lotion to help soften and comfort skin, this gentle toner helps to lock in hydration and supports the effectiveness of your moisturiser.
Good for all skin types.
Sisley Floral Toning Lotion Alcohol-Free
Looking to nature as a source for more sensitive skin, the Floral Toning Lotion from Sisley contains rose, geranium, lavender and witch hazel to really help soothe and refresh the complexion, acting on any inflammation, without stripping away any natural oils.
Good for dry /sensitive skin.
DIOR Gentle Toning Lotion
This delicate and gentle toner from DIOR is perfect for purifying and hydrating the skin, prepping the complexion, ready for serum and moisturiser. Suited for dry skin types, it contains luxurious velvet peony extracts to replenish and restore skin. Apply delicately to avoid any irritation.
For oily to combination skin types, try the DIOR Purifying and Toning Lotion which is that bit more clarifying and oil-eliminating.
By Terry Cellularose Hydra-Tone
With rose at the heart of the brand, By Terry brings out the healing properties of the super-flower with this multi-tasking toner. Hydrating and perfecting, the formulation helps reduce the appearance of pores, pepping up skin and promoting a dewy complexion.
Good for all skin types.
SUQQU Face Refresher
Known for the now-cult GANKIN facial massage, Japanese brand SUQQU infuses its Face Refresher with refreshing and detoxifying Green Tea extract. Perfect for purifying and reducing oil after cleansing, pop it on before you moisturise for an added boost.
Good for all skin types.
Chantecaille Aromacologie Pure Rosewater
Featuring 100% rose de mai, one of the purest toners for treating skin to nature's healer; the rose, Chantecaille's formulation is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and boasts a good dose of Vitamin C, perfect for soothing, calming and comforting sensitive skin and skin that is prone to redness.
Good for all skin types but particularly good for dry and sensitive skin.
Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner
With a cult following, this toner from Clarins gently exfoliates, purifies and brightens, locking in moisture and tackling any inflammation thanks to its low doses of BHA salicylic acid and AHA – glycolic acid. While it does contain alcohol, it prevents a feeling of dryness after use with its blend of key ingredients including Tamarind and white nettle.
Good for normal to oily skin and can support with acne and rosacea.
La Mer The Tonic
Refreshing and revitalising, this pH balancing toner from high-performance luxury skincare brand La Mer infuses its signature ingredient, the super-soothing Miracle Broth into this formulation, replenishing moisture and supporting skin's natural renewal.
Suitable for all skin types.