Why You Should Be Using A Toner
Why You Should Be Using A Toner

Why You Should 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 somewhere along the way. Here, two skincare experts explain why incorporating one back into your routine could yield unexpected benefits…
By Rebecca Hull

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Toners Boost Healthier-Looking Skin

“There’s a lot of debate as to how necessary they are, but everyone should use a toner in my opinion. Why? Because its prime job is to exfoliate the skin and break down the oil that sits within it naturally. 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 it 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. It’s one of the best products to use for a strong and healthy skin barrier, as they help rebalance pH levels, too – it’s crazy that they’ve dropped off the grid completely.” – Kate Kerr, skincare expert & celebrity facialist

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 Help Other Products Perform

“Older-generation toners tended to be extremely drying and quite unnecessary. But they’ve recently undergone a transformation, making them a great tool for preparing the skin for more active ingredients within the rest of your regime. 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

The Ingredients Are More Sophisticated

“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


Sensitive Skin Types Should Be Cautious

“Most of us can benefit from using a toner, but if you have extremely dry skin or any conditions like psoriasis or dermatitis, you should use them carefully. This is because toners tend to strip away essential oils, potentially worsening any conditions you may have. For those with very sensitised skin, try using an essence instead of a traditional toner. These are gentler but work in a similar way. My favourite is Fresh’s Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence.” – Emma

A Toner Should Always Follow Your Cleanser

“It’s confusing to know when and where to use a toner in your regime. In the morning, they should come after you’ve cleansed and exfoliated but before you apply your first serum. This will help actives from your serums and moisturiser be better absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin. Come night-time, apply your toner immediately after you cleanse your skin, then lock in the benefits with a moisturiser on top. Doing that will encourage natural cell turnover overnight and a bit of gentle exfoliation.” – Kate

The Best Results Come From Daily Use

“Consistency is key in any skincare regime, so if you start incorporating a toner, stick to it. They can be used morning and evening, especially as most formulas are gentler now. They’ll gradually remove dead skin cell build-up and open the channels for all your products to penetrate more easily. Having said that, if you’re using a drying toner (for oily or acne-prone skin), it’s best to use it every other day and gradually increase your usage as your skin adjusts.” – Emma

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

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

Follow @EmmaWedgwoodAesthetics & @KateKerrLondon_Facialist for more skin tips & advice.


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