What is a Skin Toner and How Does it Work?


Skin toner, also known simply as “toner,” is a common product used in skincare regimens. It’s often marketed to cleanse the skin and minimize the appearance of pores. But what exactly is skin toner and how does it work?

Skin Toners: The Basics

While there are dozens of different types of skin toner, they are all designed for the same basic purpose: to improve the appearance and health of the skin. Normally, skin toner achieve this goal by flushing oil and impurities from the pores while also moisturizing and refreshing the skin in the process.

Among the most common types of skin toners is fresheners. Fresheners contain water and glycerine, a combination that helps to moisturize the upper layers of the skin and subsequently protect against dryness. Fresheners are said to be the gentlest type of skin toner, making them a popular choice for individuals who suffer from sensitive skin.

Another common type of skin toner is tonics. They may contain up to 20% alcohol as well was water and a humectant agent. Skin tonics are typically recommended for individuals with normal, oily or combination skin.

A third type of skin toner is astrigents. While fresheners are the mildest, astrigents are the strongest. They may contain up to 60% alcohol as well as antiseptic ingredients, water and a humectant agent. Regardless of your skin type, astrigents can be irritating and cause redness. Therefore, it’s best to avoid them and instead stick with either a freshener or tonic.

Tips on Using Skin Toner

Now that you know a little bit about skin toners, you might be wondering how to use them. Well, instructions regarding the use of skin toner varies depending on the specific product. With that said, the following tips generally apply to all skin toners:

  • Apply by placing a small amount of skin toner on a cotton ball and then blotting the toner onto your face.
  • Wait until you wash your face before applying skin toner. Applying it beforehand may cause oil and impurities to get stuck inside your pores.
  • Choose a pH-balanced toner to help balance your skin’s pH levels.
  • When applying toner, gently rub it into your skin to prevent irritation and discomfort.
  • Because some toners can dry out the skin, it’s recommended that you moisturize shortly after applying toner to your skin.
  • Perform a test application of new toner is a discreet area of your skin to ensure it’s safe and effective for your skin type.