Should You Use a Toner?

How many steps does it take to mimic the impeccable skin of a beaut like Kate Bosworth? One too many, making our skin regimen feel more like a chore. And with the array of multi-purpose products on shelves today, we tend to ignore the seemingly useless ones. Case in point: Toners. Remember those? Here, we’re giving you the skinny on the forgotten skincare product and whether or not you should add it to your routine.

What it is:

In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, toner is defined as, “a liquid that is used to clean and tighten the skin.” Toners are often applied after cleansing to remove any residue your cleanser missed. Sounds beneficial, right? The answer is tricky. Toners, especially those with a high alcohol content, strip all traces of oil on your face—even the good kind—and can be too drying. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should disregard them altogether. Carla Watts, the lead esthetician at the Hotel Bel-Air Spa by La Prairie, says that cleansing interrupts the chemical balance of your skin and toners actually restore the skin’s natural pH level, thereby making it easier for your skin to absorb moisturizer. And in case you didn't already know, the ability of our skin to lock in moisture is key to a supple, glowing complexion.

Who should use it:

Because of its drying effects, toners are ideal for collegiettes with oily skin. But here’s the good news: Not every toner is created equal, which means that toners can benefit all skin types, as long as you use the right one. According to Dr. Nathan Newman, M.D., for those with oily and acne-prone skin, a toner with acids or alcohol can reduce shine and tighten pores. Dry and sensitive skin types should look for a water-based toner with soothing ingredients like rosewater, cucumber, or vitamin E that will simultaneously keep oils in check and satiate parched skin.

The verdict:

Yes, you should use a toner so as long as you choose one that’s compatible with your skin. Utilize a toner as a midday skin freshener or make it the step between cleansing and moisturizing. 

Keep scrolling to see our picks for the best toners according to skin type.

For Oily and Acne-Prone Skin:

Matis Paris Pure Lotion Toner ($38)


Murad Acne Complex Clarifying Toner ($22)


For Dry Skin:

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner ($9.95)


Algenist Hydrating Essence Toner ($25)


For Sensitive Skin:

DeVita Cool Cucumber Facial Toner ($15.19)


Rodial Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic Tonic Spray ($42)


Do you use a toner? If so, what's your favorite one?