Why You Should Be Using A Toner

Most 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, skincare expert and celebrity facialist Kate Kerr explains why incorporating a toner back into your skincare routine could yield unexpected benefits…
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Toners Are Essential For Healthy Skin

“There’s a lot of debate as to how necessary they are, but everyone should use a toner in my opinion. Why? Because their 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, too much can impede the efficacy of our skincare regime, because products can’t penetrate through it 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 when it comes to maintaining a strong and healthy skin barrier as they help rebalance pH levels, too – it’s crazy that it’s dropped off the grid completely.”

They Help Your Other Products Perform

“Older-generation toners tended to be extremely drying and quite unnecessary for most people. 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.”

The Ingredients Are More Sophisticated

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

It’s A Great Step After Cleansing

“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 is so any actives from your serums and moisturiser can 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 in the evening will encourage natural cell turnover overnight and a bit of gentle exfoliation, too.”

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, too. They’ll gradually work to 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.”

Regular Application Will Help Minimise Pores

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

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 as stand-alone products. Essences, in my opinion, are more of a beauty fad. They claim to help increase moisture and deliver ingredients by way of water, but just having extra hydration 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 and help conditions like rosacea, sensitivity and even dermatitis.”

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