What’s the story with toner?

Somewhere between college when I barely bothered to take my make up off (I know, number one skincare sin) and working for a women’s glossy magazine, I began trying every different type of product. From lotions and masks, to serums and primers. But one of the longest standing ones that I was always less sure of was toner. Some experts say it’s essential, others say you can skip it, and some even encourage you to leave it out.

Why are they advised against by some?

Toners were once used to restore your skin’s natural pH levels after using harsh cleansers or even bars of soap. But now, there are so many gentle cleansers that don’t radically change you skin’s pH, that a toner for that reason isn’t needed anymore.

With this in mind, many skincare experts advised against them, not only as an unnecessary step, but also as a product that is likely to contain ingredients that might actually damage or irritate your skin.

Why are they considered essential by others?

Some experts still maintain that various environmental factors can affect the skin’s pH level, so toner still brings it back to normal.

It’s also considered an extra step after cleansing to remove any extra dirt, oil and cleanser residue on your face.

A lot of toners have added plant extracts, natural oils and hydrating ingredients that can penetrate deeply after cleansing and keep your skin looking youthful, hydrated and clean.

toner flatlay

So do you really need one?

Personally, I always use a toner, and it’s definitely for the double cleansing effect. Any remaining eye makeup or cleanser is swept off. I also love the hydrating feeling that comes with toner. Finally, even though I have slightly oily or combination skin, after cleansing – and this goes for all cleansers – my skin feels a little tight and dry, and using toner rehydrates it a bit and gives it a suppler feel before I go for my moisturiser.

Some toner shopping tips

  • Not all toners are the same. Avoid alcohol-based toners, because they’re the ones the experts are talking about damaging your skin.
  • There’s no ‘one size fits all’ for toners. Know your skin type and research what toner and ingredients would be right for your skin. For example, rosewater is particularly hydrating and a good toner ingredient for dry skin.
  • For DIY beauty queens, you can make actually make your own. Add a half a teaspoon of honey to a cup of green tea. Let it cool and add a few drops of your choice of essential oil, depending on what you want for your skin.

My favourite

Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner. It’s alcohol free and it’s for normal-to-oily skin. However, it is on the pricey side (€40 in Arnotts) so a budget-friendly alternative I love is the L’Oreal Skin Perfection Velvety-Soft Toner for €5.29 in Boots.

Jenny x

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