Do you really need toner in your skincare routine?
When you think about toner, you may think of witch hazel or acne-killing harsh liquids that teenagers use to cleanse and exfoliate their skin. But let me assure you that is no longer the case. Toner has come a long way since you were a teenager. Don't be afraid to start using it again. Celebrity esthetician and founder, Danna Omari of NOY Spa New York City, explains why they are important and what to look for when choosing a good one.
What do toners do?
Danna Omari: Think of cleansing as a two-step process; the second step is the toner. While the cleanser cleanses the skin superficially, the toner deep cleanses and ensures that the pores are free of makeup and dirt. Toner not only removes any remaining residue or impurities, but also helps to balance the skin's pH level. Tap water contains minerals that can dehydrate the skin, so using a toner after washing your face can help fight that.
Should everyone use a toner?
Do: Yes, everyone should use a toner. When you cleanse your skin, you also remove the natural oils. Toners help to balance the skin and bring it back to a neutral pH where it is healthiest and performs at its best.
What are the ingredients/keywords to look for when choosing a toner?
Look for a toner that contains brightening and hydrating ingredients such as sodium PCA to prevent water loss, aloe vera and cassia glucan to naturally calm and soothe the skin, and lactic acid to improve uneven skin tone. If your skin is congested or acne-prone, avoid toners that contain alcohol, which is an irritant that may actually increase oil production. Many people with oily or acne-prone skin think that using products that contain a lot of alcohol (along with other drying agents) will get rid of the oil, but they are actually making the condition worse. The key is to properly balance the oils, not eliminate them. Some of my favorite toners include CosMedix Mystic Hydrating Treatment, About B-Active Sebuton, and Living Libations Organic Rose Glow Complexion Mist.
When should I apply the toner?
Do: Apply the toner both in the morning and at night after cleansing. I often recommend two types of toners to my clients, one moisturizing and soothing and one active. Active toners are products that contain active ingredients that deeply cleanse and exfoliate the skin, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like lactic acid and salicylic acid. For those who experience breakouts or have oily skin, salicylic or glycolic acids can be very effective in balancing deep cleansing and oil production. For those with over-pigmentation or normal skin dryness, lactic acid is very effective in gently deep cleaning while brightening the skin. Thus, in that case, they alternate (hydrate in the morning and work in the afternoon).
What is the correct way to use the toner?
Do: Spray the toner on a round piece of clean cotton, moving from one part of the face to another. Continuously check to make sure there is no dirt left on it. If the cotton gets dirty, turn it over and clean it. Do this until the cotton is completely clean and clear. Once done, apply the serum and moisturizer immediately while the skin is still damp.
What are the other benefits of using a toner?
Do: Toners enhance the effectiveness of subsequent products (such as serums and moisturizers) because they cleanse the skin as much as possible to receive these products. Balancing the pH of the skin also increases the penetration of the products.