About Toners

If you've been asking yourself "what's the point?" and felt like you're the only one who "doesn't get it," then join the club. I have tried a variety of toners and each one has been as unsuccessful as the last.

Toners can balance, hydrate, exfoliate, and aid absorption of other products such as serums, moisturisers, and masks. pH balancing toners can address the issue of a stripped down mantle as the result of cleansing; chemical exfoliation helps make the skin appear brighter and smoother; hydrating toners help attract moisture and trap it in the top layers of the skin.

pH Balancing
The skin's mantle (a mixture of sebum and sweat) keeps the pH of your skin at around 4 to 4.5, making your skin naturally acidic, which helps fight off any harmful bacteria. This acidity is stripped away when you cleanse your skin and toners can help restore the balance. However, your skin naturally regenerates the mantle by itself so if you're like myself, with 'normal/dry' skin, this type of toner might be less useful; oily skin types would definitely benefit from a pH balancing toner.

Chemical/Acidic toners are said to be a more effective way of exfoliating the skin than manual exfoliation (using a scrub containing grains). The purpose of liquid exfoliants is to remove dead cells that accentuate dry lines and blocked pores, helping the skin appear brighter and smoother. But it's important not to overdo it; toners containing AHAs (glycolic and lactic acids) are useful for all except very sensitive skin types and BHAs (salicylic acid) are better for spotty, oily, and sensitive skin types.

Whether you have normal, oily, or sensitive skin the chances are it's dehydrated; our environment and lifestyles rob the moisture from our skin leaving it needing rehydration in the form of moisturisers, serums, and toners.

I've tried a variety of toners with little to no success; I have 'normal/dry' skin, a little on the dehydrated side perhaps, but aside from that I have very few complaints. With the Clarins Gentle Exfoliating Toner I saw and felt little change in my skin; having relatively even skin tone, few blemishes, and little scarring I felt chemical exfoliation wasn't a step in my skin care routine that I needed. Gentle exfoliation, for me, comes from the wash cloths I use to cleanse every evening and I find that's enough for my sensitive skin. The LUSH Tea Tree Toner Water (and my DIY equivalent) is something I definitely rely on when I'm suffering a minor breakout, although I see this more of a blemish treatment than a true toner. I use the Caudalie Beauty Elixir as a midday pick-me-up in summer when it's too hot to think straight; it does absolutely nothing to rehydrate the skin, due to the alcohol and fragrance content it dries the skin out, making it totally unsuitable as a toner. The Clarins Daily Energizer Wake-Up Booster impressed me enough to consider repurchasing, my skin looked brighter and more radiant, but it did little in terms of rehydrating or moisturising. The No7 Soft & Soothed Gentle Toner is by far the best toner I've ever tried, providing a non-drying, pH balancing, rehydrating formula for sensitive skin. It doesn't contain alcohol, is fragrance free, and hypo-allergenic; it's the closest I've come to a suitable toner but I'm still left feeling "what's the point?"

My skin doesn't feel or look noticeably different when using a toner than when I'm simply applying a hydrating moisturiser or serum after cleansing. Perhaps I haven't found the one yet or perhaps using toners is a step I can afford to skip altogether.