Why do we need toner? Expert explains the importance of this skincare step

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Why is it important to use a toner? Skincare expert explains.
Why is it important to use a toner? Skincare expert explains.
Photo: David Espejo/Getty Images
  • What is toner and why do we need it in our skincare routine? Renowned specialist in aesthetic medicine, Dr Alek Nikolic, explains.
  • The basic function of a toner is to prepare the skin for the next step in the skin regime.
  • Dr Nikolic walks us through some other benefits of toners and shares advice on picking the right toner for your skin type. 


When it comes to skincare, there are three basic steps we always hear people talk about - cleansing, toning, and moisturising. 

But what exactly is a toner and why do we need it? 

"The basic function of a toner is to prepare the skin for the next step in the skin regime. It also helps to balance the skin's pH levels, which can help prevent issues such as acne," a press statement from renowned skincare specialist Dr Alek Nikolic explains. 

Below, Dr Nikolic walks us through some of the benefits of using a toner and shares recommendations on which toner works best for which skin type.

Benefits of using a toner:

Toners provide an extra layer of cleansing

Cleansing does not always remove all make-up or dirt from the skin. Toners help by providing an extra layer of cleansing. 

"Toners have the ability to clean leftover makeup and penetrate deep into pores to ensure that the skin is fully prepared for the next step in your skincare regime," says Dr Nikolic. 

READ MORE | Do these three popular anti-ageing skincare ingredients work? Here's what the evidence says

Toners tend to add an extra layer of skin hydration

Modern-day toners contain humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerine, ceramides and other moisturising ingredients, which act to soothe, repair and hydrate the outer skin barrier. This is especially handy during the colder months when many face the battle of dry skin. 

Toners provide much-needed ingredients to rejuvenate the skin

Today's toners contain ingredients that act as antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients. These help to remove and neutralise environmental free radicals enhancing the rejuvenating capability of the skin and the rest of the skincare regime. As previously mentioned, these benefits can also include balancing the skin's pH or acid/alkaline level.

How can you choose the best toner for your skin type?

"Choosing the incorrect toner will cause unwanted skin reactions, including stripping the skin of essential nutrients, upsetting the natural pH, overly drying the skin and even increasing sebum production," says Dr Nikolic. 

Normal to combination skin

For normal to combination skin, Dr Nikolic recommends toners which contain ingredients that normalise the skin's pH and remove access impurities. Ingredients to look out for include alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids.

Product recommendations:

EXUVIANCE Bionic Tonic 

OBAGI C-Balancing Toner 

READ MORE | Blue light: what we do and don't know about the damage it causes our skin

Sensitive skin

"People who suffer from sensitive skin may believe that they should stay away from toners. However, the correct toner can be a crucial step in healing, calming and balancing the pH of the skin," explains Dr Nikolic. 

Go for toners that replenish and repair the skin barrier without stripping it. Ingredients to look out for include hyaluronic acid, glycerine, antioxidants, and even ceramides.

Product recommendations:

EXUVIANCE Soothing Toning Lotion 

LA ROCHE -POSAY Effaclar Micellar Water 

Oily or acne-prone skin

When searching for toners for oily or acne-prone skin, ingredients to look out for include beta hydroxy acids and fruit-based exfoliants, such as papaya or pineapple extracts, that will provide both proteolytic and keratolytic effects on the skin.

Product recommendations:

NEOSTRATA Oily Skin Solution 

SKINCEUTICALS Blemish + Age Toner 

Those who suffer from dryness should look out for toners that hydrate and repair the skin. Ingredients to look out for include hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerine, vitamin E, and even aloe vera.

Product recommendations:

OBAGI Nu-Derm Toner 

QMS Hydrating Boost Tonic Mist 

"Using a toner specifically for your skin type is a key step that should not be overlooked. It will provide your skin with numerous benefits, including hydration, balancing your skin's pH, soothing and repairing properties, protection against environmental free radical damage, and most importantly, preparing your skin with an effective deep cleanse. I would suggest using a toner twice daily, which will allow you to see the positive effects on your skin," Dr Nikolic adds. 

Source: The Friday Street Club


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