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A Quick Guide to Using Skin Toners

Toners are often misunderstood and most people don’t know if they should use it, or how to use it. Before moisturizing and following your facial cleanser, a face toner is a quick, absorbing liquid that helps to remove excess dirt, traces of oil and makeup, correct and balance the pH of your skin and control acne. In other words, a facial toner thoroughly cleans the skin and helps remove built-up surface dead skin cells. By helping to clean and close pores, it’s especially beneficial for acne-prone skin. 

Difference Between Toner and Astringent

A simple way to describe the difference between a face toner and an astringent is that an astringent is usually formulated with solvent alcohols. Toners can also contain alcohol, but they are also available in alcohol-free formulas. An alcohol-free toner is milder on your skin than an astringent. They can also be used every day to help finish the cleansing of your skin. 


A simple way to describe the difference between a face toner and an astringent is that an astringent is usually formulated with solvent alcohols. Toners can also contain alcohol, but they are also available in alcohol-free formulas. An alcohol-free toner is more mild on your skin than an astringent. They can also be used every day to help finish the cleansing of your skin. 

Like a facial toner, astringent minimize the appearance of pores, however, the alcohol can be overly drying, especially if you have sensitive skin. 

Examples of astringents include calamine lotion, distilled vinegar, rubbing alcohol, silver nitrate and witch hazel. Astringent solutions are recommended for insect bites, fungal infections, and minor skin irritations, more than daily cleansing like a toner. 

Choosing a Toner for Your Skin Type

First of all, it’s important to always use an alcohol-free face toner. The other ingredients should be picked based on your skin type. 

  • For acne-prone skin, choose an alcohol-free toner with alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). This will leave your skin clean and glowing without flaking. A gentle tingle for a few seconds will let you know it has just the right pH level that is slightly acidic. This form of acid is gentle even for sensitive skin, unlike irritating ingredients like retinoids.
  • Salicylic acid is often recommended in a facial toner for acne-prone skin. However, this ingredient can be harsh and irritating, especially for sensitive skin.
  • Other ingredients for normal to combination skin may include coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and vitamin C.
  • Although essential oils and plant extracts have had marketing to help give them a ‘natural’ and ‘good for you’ feel, these ingredients may result in skin irritations so it’s best to avoid these.

How to Use a Face Toner 

  • Start by cleaning your face with a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin suited for your skin type. Choose one free of harsh detergents, such as sodium lauryl sulfate and fragrance.
  • Dampen a cotton ball with the alcohol-free toner, and apply it on your face.
  • Allow it to dry.
  • If you have combination or oily skin, you can use alcohol-free toner at day and night. For dry skin, it’s best to only use it once a day at night time.
  • Always follow with a moisturizer for your skin type.

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