Toner: Consider These 3 Kinds Before You Rule It Out Completely

Toner gets a bad rap, but if you take a moment to find the right one, it can be your skin's new BFF.
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Toner gets a bad rap, but if you take a moment to find the right one, it can be your skin's new BFF.

If there's one skincare product that gets a lot of bad buzz, it’s toners. 

I've been using a toner as part of my three-step skincare routine since I was a preteen. At first, it wasn’t really a decision; I just thought it was something that was done, like wearing a hat to church or having a baby out of your bellybutton (I’m starting to think I had a lot of weird ideas as a kid). 

Since then, I have come to understand many things about skincare (and where babies come from) and one of the most important things I now know is that you should do whatever works for you. So, while toners have come under a lot of scrutiny, I know that it is one of the best parts of my skincare regimen and that it works for me. 

The main reason people are anti-toner is because they associate them with drying, alcohol-based, face-stinging formulas, but this is only one type of many toners you can buy. Toners can be used for cleansing, refreshing, exfoliating and calming the skin, and different toners do different things.


These are the type of toners you may be wary of. They are typically alcohol-based and are generally intended for people with oilier skin. They tighten your pores and remove excess oil. 

I love using my Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion for this very reason, wiping it over my oilier areas, like my T-zone and nose, with a cotton pad.


If you have dry or dehydrated skin, avoid astringents at all costs. Some people advise against astringents altogether, but I have a soft spot in my heart for them. I like to FEEEEEL my products working. (Perhaps some of my weird childhood ideas are left over?)


These toners are also made to tighten the skin, but utilize ingredients like caffeine instead of alcohol. Fresheners usually have a humectant in them to ensure that the skin’s moisture stays put. For this reason, these types of toners are best for people with drier skin, as they are moisturizing. 

Many people use rosewater mists as fresheners, but it is important to remember to wipe your toner on, as spritzing doesn’t effectively remove makeup, excess cleanser and other unwanted chemicals from your skin. 


I use Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol Free Toner in colder months for added moisture. I love using fresheners mid-day when I just need to, you know, freshen up.


These are toners with a little bit of alcohol in them, and are suitable for any type of skin. They generally also contain beneficial ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids and antioxidants. 

A great tonic is the Mario Badescu Glycolic Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion, which exfoliates the skin while also keeping it taut and moisturized. Best of all worlds, really.

Sure, toner can dry or irritate skin, but the right toner can also soothe and moisturize your skin. It’s really a matter of knowing which one to use; after all, don’t we take the same things into account when buying a cleanser or moisturizer? Skincare is never one-size-fits-all, so take some time to find the best toner to add to your routine.

Are you pro-toner? Would you include toner usage in your presidential campaign?