I am often surprised by the people who have access to luxurious serums and creams and yet don’t know the importance of the humble- Toner. Even if they do know they are almost always confused about why this needs to be an important step in their skincare routine. To be honest I was one of those people at some point, so I thought I need to share my knowledge about this misunderstood skincare staple.
Why use a Toner?
The purpose of toners is to balance the skin by replenishing the skin after removing makeup and cleansing, a step that can significantly help the skin. Even after cleaning with the gentlest of cleansers, our skin still needs to be replenished with what the cleanser removes. A toner can provide skin with generous amounts of antioxidants, soothing agents, and vital hydrating ingredients.
Obsolete narrative surrounding Toners
The original concept of toner was introduced ages ago, this liquid product was often associated with acne-prone skin and using astringents full of alcohol claiming to close pores and clean out the remaining makeup to get squeaky clean skin. This dried out the epidermis and give impression of shrinking the pores – hence the tightening and ‘toning’ narrative. This is no longer true! The Toner technology has advanced and now they are actually quite hydrating and packed with active ingredients to treat and soothe the skin.
Functions of a Toner
Cleansing temporarily changes the PH level of the skin. This is the same as cleaning any part of your body, think why you apply conditioner after shampoo. A good toner will gently reset the balance. Our skin is capable of doing this by itself, but it takes close to half an hour to do so, during this time oily skin continues to generate more oil to combat the dehydration from the cleansing and dry skins will end up becoming more dry creating that ‘tight- stretched’ feeling.
An effective toner (nowadays most often labeled as a lotion) will have ingredients that act as humectants – attracting moisture from the atmosphere and confining it on the top layers of the skin. Hydrating toners have ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin or aloe vera. Our skin is not capable of doing this naturally and since we are almost always dehydrated this is an important function of a toner. This in turn will also help the layers put on top like a moisturizer or a serum penetrate better and be more effective.
Lot of new Toners contain Acids which can be a very effective way of exfoliation even better than using scrubs with abrasive material that tend to create micro scratches on the epidermis.
- Toner closes Pores
A toner containing alcohol will give an impression of pores shrinking – but it’s not. It’s actually just drying the skin which will after a while make it oilier as the skin starts over-compensating.
- Toner is meant to remove the last bits of your makeup
Toner is not a cleanser, it is not supposed to do that! If while using the Toner the cotton wool/round comes back dirty that means the cleanser used prior has not done a good job at cleaning.
How and when to apply?
After cleansing the skin thoroughly (“Thorough” doesn’t mean rough, I mean after removing all traces of makeup / SPF/ dirt etc by using a makeup remover and then a face-wash) – saturate a Cotton Ball/ Cotton round with your Toner and gently swipe over to cover the whole surface area of face and neck. There is no need to exert pressure or go over the same surface repeatedly. Think of it as a first step in moisturizing and follow it up with Serum/ Moisturizer.
When I got introduced to this, my first thought was I don’t have the time for this after a hard days of work. But then I had to push my self to actually test if this works, and it did. So taking those few extra minutes will make all the difference and your skin will thank you for it.
Are you already on the Toner band wagon? Let me know your experience in the comments.