What exactly is a toner?

So: toners. Often mentioned in skincare routine breakdowns, it seems they’ve been around for ages. Their uses and/or benefits though can be a bit vague – and to further complicate matters, no two are created equal.

What is a toner?
In basic terms, a toner is a skincare product – usually a water-based liquid. In the old days they were often very astringent and used to remove (in other words, strip away) excess oil, thereby ‘toning’ the skin. Now they’re also considered a post-cleansing step, to clear off any residual cleanser (oil formulations can sometimes leave a film) as well as any leftover pollution, makeup etc.

Do they have skincare benefits?
The new era of toners definitely do. A simple, classic rosewater is a good option if your skin is basically fine or you could choose one that’s targeted to deal with specific skin concerns, such as excess oil or dryness.

When do you use one?
After cleansing and before you apply your moisturiser.

How do you use them?
The traditional way is to put some on a cotton pad and wipe it over the skin but face spritzy sprays are increasingly popular as a skin prep/toning step. (In addition, they’re also lovely to freshen the face during the day. Your makeup will stay put – just don’t rub your face.)

Should you use a toner?
It’s entirely up to you! Some people find them unnecessary, some love using them. They may be useful if you have a particular skin concern, for example rosewater and chamomile can be good to soothe while more astringent ones can keep excess oil in check. They can also clean out pores, making them look smaller. Don’t opt for one that is very stripping though as that will just make it all worse.

Anything else?
Not entirely convinced that you need one as a essential skincare step? They do make for a great skin-freshener in the morning before you put on your moisturiser and makeup.

Five to try

Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist, €25, Aveda @ Brown Thomas
A hydrating and soothing option with echinacea and rosewater.

Glow Tonic, €23.50, Pixi @ Arnotts
This is a bit of a cult buy and has 5 percent glycolic to gently exfoliate and brighten skin.

Hydrating Toner, €34.99,Murad @ Littlewoods Ireland
Give drier skins a helping hand with this alcohol-free, moisture-rich toner from Murad.

Effaclar Clarifying Solution,€11.24 La Roche-Posay @ Boots
Tackle oily or blemished skin without stripping, with this blend of glycolic and salicylic acid.

Beauty Elixir, €14.45,  Caudalie @ Look Fantastic
Spritz on this refreshing toner before makeup or over your makeup during the day.

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