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The Ultimate Guide To Toners

Trifonia Asmar
Writer and expert11 months ago
View Trifonia Asmar's profile
Woman swiping facial toner over face in bathroom setting

We can’t deny it – toners have come a long way. We would even go as far and say they’re in a whole new league of their own. Toners no longer just keep blemishes at bay; today the featherweight formulas do everything from balance your skin’s pH levels to providing you with that post-cleanse glow.  

As an essential step in everyone’s skin care routine, it’s time we truly understood what a toner really is and how to optimise its use. So, without further ado, read on to discover our ultimate guide to… you guessed it, toners! 

WHAT IS TONER 

Toners are a water-like formula which should be used after your cleanser and before applying other products. Why? Because they prime your complexion in preparation for the rest of your routine. Absorbing quickly into your skin, they deliver an instant hit of hydration while removing any remaining dirt and debris. Historically, toners were used to remove excess oil from your face, but today they serve many more purposes.  

THE BENEFITS OF USING TONER 

While there are many advantages that come with incorporating a toner into your daily regime, below are three of the most rewarding benefits which your skin will thank you for. 

Minimising pores: The ultimate triple threat, there are three main ways in which toners minimise pores. Firstly, they assist in tightening them, so they become visibly smaller on your face. Additionally, the lightweight liquid typically uses ingredients – such as witch hazel extract – that control oil production from the sebaceous glands that sit under the pores. This reduces their visibility while blocking out blemishes. And, last but by no means least, toners are formulated to mimic the pH level of your skin, allowing them to match and maintain your complexion’s balance.  

Hydrating and replenishing the skin: Packed with antioxidants, soothing agents and vital hydrating ingredients, toners (particularly those infused with rose water or aloe vera) boost your skin’s ability to drink up the moisture from the serums you apply after.  

Removing impurities: Toners are renowned for their removal skills – sweeping your skin from traces of oil, make up, dirt and bacteria that linger after washing your face with a cleanser.  

Pouring toner out of the bottle

WHAT TYPE OF TONER SHOULD I USE FOR MY SKIN TYPE 

While face toners are suitable for everyone and anyone, it’s important to find the perfect fit for you and your skin concerns.  

If you have sensitive skin, you should… Avoid alcohol-based or exfoliating toners with a strong percentage of AHAs or BHAs. Why, you ask? Because these could be too harsh on your skin and can lead to irritation. Instead, opt for a hydrating toner with calming botanicals and humectants (we’re talking glycerine and aloe vera). These will get the job done while adding an extra dose of moisture.  

SHOP ALL SENSITIVE SKIN PRODUCTS >>>

If you have dry skin, you should… Choose a nourishing toner which is powered by a dew-drenching cocktail. These formulas are specially designed to retain moisture thanks their carefully curated blend of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. For best results you should use these saviours twice a day – once in the morning, and once at night before applying your moisturiser 

SHOP ALL DRY SKIN PRODUCTS >>>

If you have dull skin, you should… Use toners that are packed with natural exfoliants like papaya extract and lactic acid. Reducing hyperpigmentation while enhancing natural radiance, they don’t only reveal a bright finish but a clearer complexion too.  

SHOP ALL DULL SKIN PRODUCTS >>>

If you have acne-prone skin, you should… Look out for toners with salicylic acid. Supercharged with skin-loving ingredients, they penetrate deeply into oily pores and work hard to break up debris and dreaded blackheads.  

SHOP ALL ACNE & BLEMISHES PRODUCTS >>>

If you have oily skin, you should… Swipe your face with a lightweight water-based toner that fuses antioxidants and niacinamide. Like many of the above they will ensure your skin stay soft, smooth and soothed – but this time with the added benefit of controlling your oil production.

SHOP ALL OILY SKIN PRODUCTS >>> 

HOW TO USE TONERS 

Apply your toner immediately after cleansing and removing your make up – and when we say immediately we mean no less than a minute after washing your face. While this may sound a little too particular, like all our skin care hacks there’s good reasoning behind it. Most molecules penetrate the skin better when wet, so applying the active formula straight away will deliver better results.  

Simply soak a cotton pad with your toner or apply the liquid directly into your palm, then swipe it around you face and down your neck – covering all areas. You should use your toner both in the morning and night as part of your daily regime.  

THE BEST TONERS, RIGHT NOW 

Let us introduce you to our new hydrating hero. Enter: Then I Met You’s Sea Cleansing Tonic. Working hard to boost the rest of your skin care, this toner not only removes any leftover make up that your cleanser didn’t pick up, but also refreshes your complexion throughout the day. How? We’re glad you asked… Powered by 86% deep sea water – sourced from Gangwon – it deeply nourishes from within, without stripping your skin.  

How to use the toner: Apply onto a cotton pad to wipe away impurities from your skin or dispense directly into your hands and pat or press onto face and neck. 

SHOP ALL THEN I MET YOU >>> 

Reduce the appearance of pores, without tightening your skin, courtesy of Biossance's Squalane + BHA Pore Refining Toner. Supercharged with its not-so-secret ingredient – raw white willow bark – the formula has ample benefits, from calming inflammation to dissolving dead skin. What’s more, with the addition of squalene, it quenches your skin’s thirst while exfoliating away excess oil, dirt and debris. It’s a win-win.  

How to use the toner:After cleansing, pour the BHA toner onto a cotton pad and gently swipe over clean skin. May also be poured into palm, and gently patted over skin. 

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Doing exactly what it says on the tin, Glow Recipes’ Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner, clenches and closes those pores. Flooding your skin with restoring vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids, it’s powered by watermelon extract that soothes irritation while deeply decongesting your complexion. The result? Smooth, supple and super-glowing skin.  

How to use the toner:Use daily on clean, dry skin, paying extra attention to the T-zone and chin.  

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Cleansing, calming and most importantly Cult Conscious, Medik8’s Press and Glow Tonic looks out for both you and the planet. How? Well, not only is this toner refillable, meaning you are limiting the levels of landfill waste and can replenish your skin care saviour at any time, its formula is also entirely vegan too. Utilising intelligent poly hydroxy acids, it exfoliates the skin’s surface while working as a mighty moisture magnet. Plus, infused with aloe vera, you’re protected against free radicals too. Now, who said one product couldn’t do it all? 

How to use the toner:Twist the top half of the pump anti-clockwise until it clicks to activate. After cleansing in the morning and evening, hold a reusable cotton pad firmly over Press & Glow and push down 3-4 times. Sweep the pad over the complexion, avoiding the delicate eye area. Twist the pump clockwise until it clicks to avoid leakage.  

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Flourishing with real rose petals and hyaluronic acid, fresh’s Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner not only increases hydration but minimises the look of pores too. Laced with rose fruit extracts, skin-soothing rose water, nourishing rose oil and angelica leaf extract, the alcohol-free formula helps to hold moisture and enhance suppleness in your skin. Oh, and if you haven’t guessed it smells like the blossoming bud it’s named after too.  

How to use the toner:Pour onto a cotton pad and sweep over your face and neck. Use daily, morning and night, after cleansing and before your serum and moisturiser. 

SHOP ALL FRESH >>>  

Now you have everything you need to know about face toners, it’s time to amp up your skin care routine and optimise your complexion with the pore-minimising, impurity-removing hydrator.   

SHOP ALL TONERS >>> 
Trifonia Asmar
Writer and expert
View Trifonia Asmar's profile
Cult Beauty’s Senior SEO Copywriter, Trifonia started out in the industry when bold brows were just becoming a ‘thing’, and shares a passion for all things fashion and beauty. Currently embracing her curly girl journey (after endless years of straightening her strands), she is finally reverting to her natural ways! When Triffy isn’t busy testing out the latest curl-saving solutions, you’ll find her binging the latest reality TV show or on a long walk listening to her ever-evolving country music playlist.
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