Skincare Routine 102: Toners

If you’re ready to advance beyond our 101 series (learning about cleansers, moisturizers, and sun protection), it’s time to move on to Skincare 102 series where we explain toners, eye treatments, facial oils & serums.

This series is meant to help educate you on the products in your skincare routine, how they should be applied, and when they should be applied. Additionally, we’ll tell you what these products do, what their benefits are, and which one is best for different skin states.

This post will help you better understand the most common second step in an optimal skincare routine: Toners!


On the most basic level toners are an essential part of your routine for these 2 reasons, 1 – they prepare the skin to absorb the rest of the products in your routine. Because your skin can absorb the ingredients in your products better, it increases the effectiveness of the product. 2 – some toners can help start the process of resetting your pH after cleansing, especially after using foam cleansers. Foam cleansers are naturally alkaline, while your skin is naturally acidic. Resetting your pH is important to stop inflammation or dehydration.

Toners have a wide range of hydrating, soothing, and gentle resurfacing benefits. The most common types of toners are hydrating mists, exfoliating/pore clearing astringents, and denser softening lotions. The style of toning product that’s best for you is generally based on your skin state, the skin concerns you have, and how you want to apply the toner.   


Best for: Most skin conditions

Hydrating mists are presently one of the most common toner styles you’ll see offered. The trend toward more gentle, natural ingredients has had a heavy influence on hydrating mists. They usually have a water-like consistency and are packed with nourishing antioxidant blends and calming botanicals. You’ll often see different teas, aloe vera juice, or hyaluronic acid (a moisture-binder found naturally in skin) in their formulations. Oils and moisturizers love mixing with hydrating mists, and can then travel deeper into the skin. These same moisture-binding properties make hydrating mists perfect for setting makeup as well. 

Their spray application is both refreshing and convenient (hold the bottle six inches from your face and spray – no wiping required). Their benefits for skin are calming, soothing, and moisturizing.  


Best for: Most skin states (unless sensitive to acids + enzymes)

Resurfacing tonics are kind of special in the category of toners. These are great alternatives to physical exfoliators, like scrubs. These toners prepare your skin to receive other products by dissolving dead skin and anything lurking in your pores. These toners are incredibly active and should be used at night (no more than four nights a week). Avoid using them in the day time, since resurfacing with acids will make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. 

Resurfacing toners require a bit more work than sprays. They’re generally poured onto a cotton round and swiped over the entire face and neck to help lift away the debris loosened by the acids. Their benefits are exfoliating the skin and clearing out clogged pores due to the active ingredients they contain like alpha and beta hydroxy acids (plant acids that exfoliate without rough particles). 


Best for:  Most skin states, especially dry/aging

In the last few years the beauty industry has seen an explosion in the popularity of Japanese and Korean skincare trends; they know a thing or two about making toners that are both luxurious AND effective! This group of toners can be confusing; “softening lotion” sounds more like a moisturizer than toner. The naming mostly comes from the slightly thicker consistency they have compared to other products in the toner category. 

They can be applied by swiping with a cotton round. However, for maximum benefit, they’re best applied by pressing directly into the skin with fingers. Essences and softening lotions tend to have extra nourishing properties making them ideal for dry, aging skin; but most skin states can benefit from this category.

If you’re not sure of the different states of your skin, don’t worry – our software is meant to capture your specific skin needs so we can help you. Make sure to set up your profile if you haven’t already by visiting our homepage, and we’ll be happy to help you find toners that are best for your skin (plus, all of our new customers get a discount off their first order)!

Hopefully we have made the different styles of toners a little easier to navigate, and piqued your interest in trying one out to boost your daily routine. Next up in our Skincare 102 series: Oil & Serum Treatments!

To see any of the other posts in our Skincare 101 & 102 series, click on any of the links below:

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