The Skin Edit looks at a forgotten skincare hero; the Skin Toner. Should you be using a Toner? Which Toner is best for your Skin Type? Ready, Get Set, Tone!
We’ve all heard it said. You know what I’m talking about; those three words that almost every skin therapist has uttered to you – over and over again – “Cleanse. Tone. Moisturise.”
Like me, it should be ingrained in your minds and although most of us follow those rules (most days at least), do we really understand why toning is in the middle of this mantra? Is it just the filling between the cleansing and moisturising or does it really provide tangible and visible benefits for our skin? In a world where there is a new hot product every twenty minutes (I think one was just launched as I typed that), the toner has been out of fashion for some time, being replaced by all-singing, all dancing cleansers which claims toning is a thing of the past. But, as a toner user, I can see revival ahead and try to impress on all of my clients that they have a place in any skincare routine. Thanks to some amazing new developments in skincare technology and more sophisticated ingredient delivery innovations; toners have become a valuable tool in the skincare-products arsenal.
What is a Skin Toner?
A skin toner, is a water-based product which is applied to the skin after through cleansing has taken place. (More on the importance of cleansing later). Toner’s are often packed with essential oils or plant extracts. They provide an invaluable element of your skincare routine; balancing the skins pH levels and rehydration. Toners are also excellent for creating the perfect foundation for your skin specific elements; masks, serums, moisturisers etc.
Although skin toners rose in popularity at the end of the last century, they have evolved vastly. Moving from aggressively drying, alcohol based lotions which were designed to remover cleanser residue, to alcohol-free options; now benefitting even excessively dry and sensitive skins. Alcohol based toners whilst effective for reducing sebum in oilier skins were unable to preserve the natural oils found on the skin that help to preserve your skin’s own protective layers. With modern day toners, skin is being treated rather than left facing astringent and drying products.
Why are we Talking About Toners?
Because we love all things skin! Duh! Actually, its because now more than ever (especially if you live in a highly polluted city like London) toners are a valuable skincare tool. Environmental factors such as fumes, smoke and city-living in general all take their toll on our skin and slow down the cells regeneration and collagen production. (For the science nerds, this is because of the nitrogen dioxide and free radicals in the air).
“Modern day toners no longer use alcohol and as a consequence are of more benefit than hindrance and do not ‘strip the skin’ of its natural lipid barrier (oils)”
The science behind toners is changing and the benefits hidden in these bottles should be considered in their own right; implementing good-toner-practice is great for not just balancing the skins pH, removing any make-up left from cleansing but also wiping away pollution. That’s what we call a trifecta! The range of skin toners available now is vast, suiting all skin types and concerns. Toner’s are offering every skin type the opportunity to go from good skin to sensational skin. Finding a home on your bathroom shelf for a toner should be at the top of your priority list!
So…Should You be Using a Toner? Yes!
Have you got the message yet? Yes? Good! Using a toner is a win-win decision! There are a vast number of varieties of toner available in the global skincare market and opting for the right one for your skin type is a little bit like a beauty-minefield. Always seek the advice of your skincare expert but if in doubt, keep it simple. Consider your skin type and select accordingly. We’ve listed some of our favourites at the bottom of this Skin Edit.
What are the Different Types of Toner?
As we’ve already discussed facial-toner, comes in all shapes and sizes. The right toner for you will depend on its specific benefits, key ingredients and whether it will meet your personal needs. Below is a breakdown of the most common types of toner:
- Balancing & Clarifying (Oily | Combination): bringing the skins natural pH back into balance. The natural pH balance of the skin should be 5.5.
- Supportive (Sensitive | Reactive): Using a clever blend of essential oils, plant extracts and other key ingredients to support fragile skin and gently nourish.
- Nourishing (Normal | Dry): Boosting the skins’ hydration levels.
- Exfoliating (Anti-Ageing | Pigmentation): We like to call these Hybrid Toners; using mild acids (AHA’s and BHA’s) to exfoliate dead skin cells and encourage cell regeneration.
“good-toner-practice is great for not just balancing the skins pH, removing any make-up left from cleansing but also wiping away pollution”.
Once you have discovered your partner-in-tone, consider how often you need to us it. Whilst most are recommended for use in the morning and evening (such as hydrating and nourishing toners) others should be employed on a once-per-day basis. Some balancing and clarifying toners should be used once a day to prevent any excessive drying effect to the skin. Follow your skincare professionals’ guidelines when it comes to exfoliating toners; most professionals will advise you not to use them more than three times per week as they can cause sensitivity. At the end of the day, with any skin product that you use, listen to you skin.
How Do You Tone?
With ease! Toner’s are water-based liquids with a consistency that makes them incredibly easy to use and apply. Some skincare houses produce toners with spray-nozzles. If you’re unsure of this method, spray onto some damp cotton wool pads and wipe gently over the face in the morning and evening. Other houses suggest that you can spray directly onto the skin however, we would save this trick for during the daytime if you feel the need for a skin-refresh over the top of your make-up.
Ingredient Spotlight: AHA’s, BHA’s + Key Ingredients
Antique toners (we’ve made them modern day relics), used to be alcohol based and as a result were overly drying to the skin. Modern day toners are generally alcohol-free and as a consequence are of more benefit than hindrance and do not ‘strip the skin’ of its natural lipid barrier (oils). Key ingredients often now include hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, saponaria extract, rose, apricot and cornflower extract. Within the Hybrid Toners (exfoliating toners) AHA’s and BHA’s are utilised.
Best Facial Toners
- Guinot Lotion Hydra Fraicheur: A complete toning all-rounder. Skin texture is refined and infused with rose extract to tone and soften the skin. Use this toner day and night on damp cotton wool pads.
- Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner: A calming treatment toner effectively tones the skin and helps to maintain the pH level, without the use of alcohol. Suitable for sensitive skins and great for hay fever sufferers; this toner can be multi-use. Keep it in the fridge and spritz directly onto the skin when eyes and skin are feeling particularly irritated.
- Elizabeth Arden PRO Hydrating Antioxidant Spray: A cocktail of anti-pollution antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and amino acids; designed to hydrate and refresh the skin after cleansing with hybrid (exfoliating) or traditional cleansers.
- Natura Bissé NBCeutical Tolerance Toner: Designed for skins which are in need of soothing and repair. We love this delicate lotion that restores the skin’s pH and reinforces its hydration barrier. Use day and night after cleansing. Spray a small amount onto cotton wool and wipe gently across the skin.
- Environ C-Quence Vita Peptide Toner: A concentrated toner that contains a combination of peptides that are known to work to help smooth the appearance of skin tone and wrinkles. Antioxidants assist in enhancing the production of collagen and elastin. Use morning and evening.