Until you’ve had to try them all, you can never really understand what a difference the right toner can make. But you can take it from us, that there are toners that will do nothing for your skin, and there are others that will help fade your acne scars, get rid of those annoying little bumps, and soothe or plump your skin. These 10 tried and tested toners are the ones that really did make a difference to our skin, and we’ve broken them down into categories to make finding the right one for you extra easy.
So, whether you need something that will hydrate and keep flakes at bay, or something to prevent blackheads and pimples or even brighten and smooth skin texture, these babies are here for you. Scroll to the end to see our top toner tips to make sure you’re giving your skin what it needs.
1. Anti-Aging & Pore-Refining: The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner, $11
Uneven texture, fine lines and dark spots? This toner is for you! The 10% glycolic acid treatment toner helps minimize the appearance of pores and smooth out fine lines while brightening and evening skin tone. Witch Hazel also works to reduce excess oil production. We love this affordable toner for normal, oily, blackhead-prone, and combo skin types.
2. Hydrating & Soothing for Dehydrated & Normal Skin: Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence, $39
Okay so technically, this isn’t a toner, but it’s an amazing essence that can be used as a toner to give super hydrated, dewy-looking skin, especially if you find toner often causes your skin to feel tight. This lightweight but bouncy formula packs a punch with antioxidant-rich lotus extract, brightening niacinamide, age-defying yeast ferment, protective bamboo extract, and nourishing radish leaf extract.
After a day in the sun or whenever you want to keep skin hydrated to the max (like when using retinol or AHAs elsewhere in your routine), this is an excellent toner replacement. After makeup removal, apply to a cotton pad and sweep across the face to remove the last traces of makeup, then afterward, pat a few extra drops into the skin for added hydration and a dewy complexion.
3. Purifying & Clarifying for Oily & Acne-Prone Skin: Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Toner, $28
This toner is everything! We saw a noticeable difference in our skin within a week of using this – our breakouts were reduced, and blackheads contained. The formula is packed with exfoliating salicylic acid that flushes oil out of pores, gently removes dead skin, and improves skin texture. It’s also packed with soothing grape water and rosewater, and to prevent oil from oxidizing and turning into blackheads, it contains grapeseed polyphenols. Finally, antibacterial, fragrance-free and noncomedogenic essential oils (Lemongrass, Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon Balm) purify and clarify the skin. The results are 100% worth the price tag!
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4. Soothing for Sensitive Skin: The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner, $10
This light, refreshing toner is ideal for sensitive skin types as it’s formulated without fragrance, color, or alcohol and is packed with hydrating and soothing aloe and glycerin.
5. Brightening & Exfoliating: Rodial Vit C Glow Tonic, $55
Rodial’s exfoliating treatment toner doesn’t come cheap, but on the plus side, you only need to use it two to three times a week, so this big bottle will last you a long time. Containing 5% acid complex (lactic, glycolic, and fruit acids) to gently exfoliate and improve skin texture, and vitamin C to boost radiance and brighten the complexion, this is a great treatment toner if you’re not a fan of harsh, physical exfoliators. Amino acids also help even out skin tone, while vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid add hydration.
6. Hydrating & Protecting: Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Enriched Calming Toner, $15
Packed with skin-protecting antioxidants like niacinamide and vitamin C, essential lipids, and super hydrating and nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and panthenol, this is ideal for very dry and sensitive skin types.
7. The Pimple-Fighter: COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner, $17
This works wonders for acne-prone skin! Combining powerful salicylic acid that decongests pores and AHAs that gently exfoliate the top layer of the skin, this works amazingly to help ‘dry’ up current pimples and prevent new ones (plus blackheads and whiteheads) from forming. We noticed a difference in our skin within days. It also works brilliantly for body acne, as you can hold it at a distance and spray it into your skin to treat hard to reach places, like your back.
8. Soothing, Gentle & Refreshing: Mario Badescu Witch Hazel & Lavender Toner, $14
Boasting anti-inflammatory witch hazel, lavender, and hydrating aloe, this calming and soothing formula is great for all skin types (including acne-prone and combination), as it gently clarifies the complexion without stripping away natural moisture.
9. The All-Rounder Toner for Glowing Skin: REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, $30
Keep dull skin at bay with this do-it-all toner that combines different AHAs to help shed dead surface skin cells to reveal brighter skin underneath. Azelaic acid helps brighten the skin to fade pigmentation and acne scars, while salicylic and lactic acids help minimize pores and smooth skin texture. It’s potent, but not too strong. We use ours every evening.
10. Hydrating & Plumping: Leegeehaam Grow Hyal B5 Toner, $30
With five types of hyaluronic acid, glycerin and panthenol, protecting niacinamide, calming Centella Asiatica extract, and nourishing botanicals, this super hydrating formula soothes and plumps dehydrated skin. Use on a cotton pad to remove the last traces of makeup, or pat the gel-like formula onto your skin, and layer-up for glass skin!
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1. Choose two toners!
We know this sounds extravagant but trust us. If you’re oily or acne-prone, or even normal and combo, the exfoliating and clarifying toners with AHAs and salicylic acid are ideal for everyday use, but there are times when you may want to choose something less abrasive and more soothing and hydrating. We like to use a treatment toner at night, and something protective or hydrating in the morning. Similarly, if you exfoliate, it’s better to follow with something hydrating and soothing, so you don’t end up over-exfoliating your skin. Again, if you’re using retinol at night or vitamin C during the day, we suggest using something that doesn’t contain an exfoliating acid.
If you use an exfoliating toner, you may also want to cut back exfoliating with other products to just once a week, as you will be gently exfoliating your skin every day with your AHA-based toner.
2. You can layer!
With lightweight, hydrating toners, you can use them first on a cotton pad to help remove any lingering makeup or dirt after you’ve cleansed, and a second time, by patting the formula into your skin with your hands. In Korea, they use toners and essences up to seven times (the 7-Skin method) to achieve a super hydrated, plumped, and glowing complexion. The Leegeehaam Grow Hyal B5 Toner and Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence are ideal for this.
3. Always test first!
Although we’ve never had any reactions with these toners, everyone’s skin reacts differently to different ingredients. We recommend using a toner along one side of your jawline twice, before using all over your face, to see how your skin responds, especially if you have sensitive skin!
We hope you guys found this helpful! Let us know if you have any questions or toner recommendations in the comments below.