Cleanse, tone and moisturize – anyone who knows anything about skincare knows these are the three steps to follow if you want perfect skin. A three-step guide seems so easy, right? But when you factor in the MILLIONS of products, all with different “miracle” ingredients, it gets a little… Okay we admit, it’s confusing AF. Even choosing your toner is a dilemma! The thing is, so many of us have a go-to moisturizer or a cleanser we swear by, so when we look for toner, we either just choose something the Sephora staff told us was amazing, or we skip it – which BTW, is a huge mistake. The thing is, you can slap on a ton of moisturizer and cleanse religiously, but without the right toner to rebalance your skin, you’re never going to get that coveted It-girl glow.
The right toner is an essential step between your cleanser and moisturizer, not only will it remove any residue from your cleanser and leftover makeup that your cleanser couldn’t budge, it will remove skin irritating chlorine and minerals that are in the water. As well as giving one last sweep of our pores, a toner can even restore your skin’s PH balance, as many cleansers have an alkaline base that leaves your skin off balance. Finally, a good cleanser will tighten your pores and close the space in between surface skin cells, which helps to reduce the penetration of environmental impurities. So now you know how important a toner is, we’ve created the ultimate guide to picking one that’s perfect for you.
Dry/ Sensitive Skin
It’s no surprise to those of you with sensitive skin that you have to be careful with the products you use, and when it comes to picking your toner, it’s no different. Start by looking for the gentlest toner you can find, making sure that it’s alcohol-free and packed with natural ingredients. We love formulas with naturally awesome ingredients like Tea Tree, green tea, rose water, and Witch Hazel, the latter is an amazing extract that has anti-bacterial properties that will tighten and tone. Products that include hyaluronic acid and glycerin will also help support skin hydration making them ideal for you. Avoid harsh ingredients like salicylic acid or parabens as they could cause breakouts. Skin soothing ingredients like vitamin E and Aloe Vera are perfect as they help reduce the acidity of your skin, achieving a more balanced pH level to keep your complexion clear.
Avoid: Alcohol-based products
Key ingredients: Witch hazel extract, hyaluronic acid, aloe, vitamin E.
Normal/ Combination Skin
For you, a lightweight formula that will hydrate your drier areas but won’t leave your problem areas feeling greasy is ideal! Ingredients such as niacinamide and ceramides will help balance your skin’s pH levels, repair your skin and tighten your pores. Botanical oils will also work well for normal/ combination skin, as it will even out your complexion without the formula sitting too heavily on your skin. Look for plant-based oils high in linoleic essential fatty acids, like borage and evening primrose, which help to control sebum production, moisturize, calm and soothe. Dermatologists also recommend changing your toner depending on the seasonal demands of your skin as normal/ combination skin can be easily affected by the weather. Look for something light and refreshing with cucumber extracts and vitamins for summer, and an oil-based, nourishing formula for the winter months. One of our favs is the Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2, as it removes oil as well as getting rid of any flaky skin leaving your face-feeling super fresh!
Key ingredients: niacinamide, ceramide, hyaluronic acid, evening primrose.
Oily/ Acne-Prone Skin
For oily or acne-prone skin, a good toner is essential. Look for a toner that gently exfoliates as this will help shed dead surface skin cells that could block your pores. When combined, salicylic acid, AHAs, and glycolic acid work together to take down blemishes by cleaning deep into pores and getting rid of any dirt or toxins. Natural ingredients like ginseng, rose or chamomile will help to reduce inflammation and tighten your skin, and are all bursting with antioxidants that will help to keep free radicals at bay.
Key ingredients: AHAs, salicylic acid, and ginseng.
For those of you who have slightly more mature skin and want to turn back the clock, you need a toner that will moisturize and simultaneously rebalance your skin. Toners infused with ingredients similar to your moisturizers such as natural botanicals and peptides, which are bursting with antioxidants are great for aging skin as they help neutralize free radicals that cause your skin to sag and age prematurely. Nourishing ingredients such as honey extracts and almond oil are ideal, as they will replenish your skin, giving it a more even tone.
Key ingredients: Natural botanicals, antioxidants, almond oil, honey
A DIY for all skin types
If you love DIYs as much as we do, this DIY toner will do the trick, even celebs like Scarlet Johansson swear by it! The key ingredient? Apple Cider Vinegar, and if its good enough for the A-listers, it’s good enough for us. In a bottle, combine equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water. Apply to a cotton ball and wipe across your face, avoiding your eyes – it will sting! Find out other ways you can use ACV here.
If you want to be fancy, this extra soothing, hydrating DIY with honey (amazing antibacterial and moisturizing properties) and chamomile (super soothing for sensitive skin) is also great for all skin types. Brew a chamomile teabag in one cup of boiling water for ten minutes, when cooled, add one teaspoon of honey and three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Store the mixture in a bottle and use with a cotton pad after cleansing.
Check out our guides for finding the right moisturizer for your skin type, choosing the right cleanser, and the right facial oil. Let us know if you have any other skin concerns that you’d like us to write about in the comments 🙂