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What is face toner and what role does it play in your skincare routine?

what does face toner do

Navigating the complex and constantly evolving world of beauty is a skill that takes years to perfect. With what feels like a continuous influx of new products popping up on our beauty radar every week, it can be difficult to keep track of which products you're using and why – other than because your dermatologist instructed you to do so. Although the advice of a professional is a trustworthy source, it's important to know just how hard each element of your skincare routine is working for you. The most perpetually overlooked product in the skincare line-up? Toner. So, what exactly is face toner and what does it do for your skin?


What is toner?

Toner is a water-like substance that is considered an 'in-between' skincare step between your cleanser and serum or moisturiser. Although the substance itself might not look very potent, toners are packed with much more than just oxygen and water. The solution is normally infused with a mixture of acids, glycerin, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories, depending on the type of toner you use.

Just like most other skincare products, there is a face toner for every skin type, from sensitive, to dry and every step along the way. In a nutshell, a toner's primary function is to gently refresh and hydrate the skin without stripping it of its natural moisture. For this reason, the right toner will not cause irritation or increase dryness.


What do toners do for your skin?

As mentioned above, toners are a fast-penetrating liquid that offer the skin a quick hit of hydration while simultaneously removing surface-level dead skin cells. Face toners also function as a type of 'primer' for your serum or moisturiser; preparing the skin to soak up the nutrients these products provide. Although toners do help to remove excess oil, stubborn dirt or makeup leftover on your face after you wash it, they should not be used as a replacement to your cleanser.

When incorporated as a mainstay step in your skincare routine, toner brings your skin back to its normal acidic state, or pH level as it's commonly known – smoothing skin by refining rough patches and improving skin tone. There are also anti-ageing benefits to using a face toner, resulting in plump, tight and glowy skin. Essentially, every person's skin dream.


How often should I use toner?

Most beauty professionals recommend including a toner in both your day and night-time regime, following the 'lightest to heaviest' approach your skincare routine is built upon. If you're using a gentle toner with the main focus of hydration, it's typically safe to use your toner morning and night. However, if your chosen product includes stronger active ingredients like AHAs or BHAs, it's advisable to only apply the toner two-three times a week.

Similarly, you may want to apply a less-heavy duty toner in the morning for daytime wear and a more active solution at night to compliment your other skincare products. Regardless of your approach, like any other product in your routine, it's imperative to be guided by your skin type and advice from beauty and skincare professionals – especially when you begin exploring AHAs/BHAs.


How do you apply toner?

Thankfully, applying toner is one of the most straight-forward steps in your skincare routine. Traditionally, toner is applied to a clean cotton ball or makeup pad. Soak your pad of choice with toner and begin gently wiping the product on your T-zone outward. A recent tip we learnt is to pre-soak your pad or cotton ball in water, squeezing out any excess before applying the toner. This prevents the product from seeping into the pad, instead keeping it on the surface for a more targeted application.

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