6 Reasons You Need To Be Using A Toner
6 Reasons You Need To Be Using A Toner

6 Reasons You Need To Be Using A Toner

Many of us grew up repeating the mantra: cleanse, tone and moisturise. And yet, thanks to a string of new beauty innovations, toners have fallen out of fashion. Here, two skincare experts explain why incorporating one back into your routine could yield unexpected results – plus, we share some of our favourites…
By Sapna Rao & Eleanor Magill

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.


They Help Other Products Perform Better

“Older-generation toners tended to be extremely drying and quite unnecessary. But they’ve recently undergone a transformation, making them a great tool for prepping the skin for more active ingredients. They’re also commonly used as a second treatment to target different skincare concerns. For example, if you have acne-prone skin, look for a toner that controls oil, while anyone with sensitive skin should look for formulas containing lactic acid.” – Kate Kerr, skincare expert & celebrity facialist


The Ingredients Are More Sophisticated Now

“Look for formulas with a lactic, salicylic or glycolic base, as well as anti-inflammatory ingredients. This will help exfoliate the skin and stimulate cell turnover by ensuring dead skin cells (which often block pores) are sloughed away, keeping your complexion clear of any build-up. Toners can also help protect against any inflammation from over-exfoliation – and glycolic acid is especially good if you’re after a formula that targets the early signs of ageing. If you suffer with particularly sensitive or dry skin, choose alcohol-free hydrating toners and look for ingredients that soothe, calm and nourish the complexion – like glycerine, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.” – Kate


They’re Easy To Use

“Toners don’t necessarily need to be applied with a cotton wool pad. Countless new formulas come as a spray, which can simply be misted over the skin, making them easier to use than ever before. Some even come as essences, which are designed to be splashed on quickly and washed off straight away – they’re minimal faff, so ideal if you’re someone who prefers a quick routine. That said, it’s important to know the difference between essences and toners. Essences, in my opinion, are more of a fad. They claim to increase moisture and deliver ingredients by way of the water, but extra hydration alone doesn’t mean you’ll get optimum delivery of key ingredients. Toners, on the other hand, are more about exfoliation and breaking through the surface of your skin to deliver ingredients that are proven to have an impact on conditions like rosacea, sensitivity and even dermatitis.” – Kate


Those Prone To Oiliness Will Benefit The Most

“Toners are beneficial in any skincare routine – but they’re particularly effective at minimising oiliness and breakouts. They’re able to get down deep into the pores thanks to their thin consistency, so they efficiently get rid of grime and build-up while limiting sebum production and excess grease. Though they aren’t essential, I do advise using a toner if you wear make-up regularly. That way, you’re guaranteed to get rid of any leftover product and minimise the bacteria that gets left on your skin.” – Emma Wedgwood, skin expert & founder of Emma Wedgwood Aesthetics


They Boost Healthier-Looking Skin

“While we all need some level of oil in our skin, too much can impede the efficacy of our regime because products can’t penetrate as effectively. A toner can break down that oil, boost exfoliation and encourage a more radiant glow. Our cells are meant to turn over regularly on their own, but the products we apply – be they SPF or moisturiser – can stop that from happening, so you need a toner to mimic the effect of natural exfoliation and prevent issues like dullness and inflammation, both of which can be caused by a lack of cell turnover. A toner is one of the best products to use for a strong and healthy skin barrier, as it helps rebalance pH levels, too.” – Kate


Regular Application Will Help Minimise Pores

“It’s important to emphasise the word ‘minimise’ here. Any toner that contains exfoliating ingredients will tackle the appearance of large pores, but nothing will physically shrink them. The only way to do that is to stimulate better collagen production, which puts pressure around your pores to shrink their size. Toners, however, will soften the pore. Think of pores as a ‘V’ shape. A toner will soften the thinner parts of that ‘V’ by way of exfoliation, so you’ll see a marked improvement. If pores are your bugbear, always look for a toner that contains salicylic and glycolic acid to break down excess oil and in turn minimise issues like blackheads.” – Kate


We think these are the best toners out there…

Best For Acne-Prone Skin

Heartleaf 77% Soothing Toner, £34 | Anua

We all know Korean skincare is a cut above. This ANUA soothing toner is made up of 77% heartleaf extract – a godsend for those looking for a low-chemical, vegan-friendly formula that’s still effective. This all-natural ingredient won’t overdry the skin, yet it still has clarifying properties. Those who are prone to blemishes will be aware that skin can be sensitive and if you over-strip it, or use heavy chemical-laden formulas, it can actually cause more breakouts. Instead, ANUA’s toner promotes moisture retention, creating a dewy base for your make-up or further skincare, without making the skin feel greasy or overloaded.

Available at BeautyAndSeoul.co.uk

Best For Dry Skin

Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner, £43 | Fresh

Formulated without any drying alcohol, phthalates or silicones, this toner will inject a healthy dose of moisture into your complexion while also removing any leftover make-up or pollutants. Without compromising natural oils, it gets to work soothing, nourishing and plumping the skin with rosewater and hyaluronic acid. Skin is left feeling softer, and ready for the rest of your skincare regime.

Available at SpaceNK.com

Best For Textured Skin

No.3 Super Glowing Essence Toner, £15.12 | Numbuzin

This next Korean export is made up of over 50 fermented ingredients, which includes skin-loving new amino acids, organic acids and antioxidants to help cleanse, hydrate and nourish the complexion. It also has a decent dose of powerhouse ingredient niacinamide, which helps to smooth texture, reduce pore size and minimise the appearance of fine lines.

Available at Amazon.co.uk

Best For Glowy Skin

Radiance Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, £30 | REN

We put our skin through a lot. Between make-up application and removal, and even just stepping outside – hello pollutants – our skin battles with a lot of unwanted build-up and dead cells. That’s where REN’s cult-status Ready Steady Glow comes in. It blends AHAs with BHAS, so these effective but still gentle acids help to break up dead cells and remove any build-up.

Available at SpaceNK.com

Best For Blackheads

Glycolic Acid Toner, £13 | The INKEY List

When it comes to tackling pesky blackheads, make glycolic acid your best friend. The Inkey List has long been a favourite for its ‘no frills, just works’ approach and this toner has a high concentration of the acid to maximise results. The glycolic acid acts as a chemical exfoliant and gets to work dissolving any build-up in your pores – just sweep it across your face and neck on a cotton pad in the evening for that clean-skin feeling come morning.

Available at TheINKEYList.com

Best All-Rounder

Baby Cheeks All-In-One Hydrating Milk, £16.50 | Versed

This one is a real multitasker: it can cleanse, tone, hydrate and exfoliate all at once. The silky, milky consistency is great for getting rid of any make-up dregs, and the nourishing cocktail of coconut water, bamboo extracts and algae works to cleanse and rehydrate your complexion. It won’t leave any kind of tacky or greasy residue on the skin – just the perfect canvas for more skincare or make-up.

Available at Boots.com

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