Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Sritama Dutta (Medical Science) on 02nd Feb 2021

Everything About Using Toners: 50 FAQs Answered By Experts

Everything About Using Toners

What is a Toner?

Skin toner or facial toners are concoctions or lotions that are applied to the skin for various benefits. Primarily, toner is designed for deep cleansing of the facial skin. It also helps in moisturizing and refreshing the skin. Toners also help in minimizing open pores.  

Why Should I Use a Toner? 

Toners are versatile. When regularly used, a toner can have a great impact on the health of the skin. A toner will help remove dirt, grime, and other impurities from the skin's deeper layers. It also helps in cleansing the excess sebum that can clog skin pores.

Toners can also hydrate and refresh the skin. They can also minimize enlarged pores—this aids in reducing the signs of aging.  

How Does a Toner Work? 

The ingredients that compose a toner are usually mild on the skin. Being lightweight and smaller in size, toner molecules can penetrate deep into the dermal layers and effectively pull out dirt, dead cells, debris, and excess sebum. This deep cleansing activity of toner helps in unclogging the pores and thus refreshes and rejuvenates the skin. Toners may also contain a low concentration of facial acids with a mild exfoliating action on the skin.  

When Should You Use Toner?  

Toner is recommended for daily use. You can use it in both your morning and night-time routine. Experts must advise it to cleanse your face first to get rid of the superficial impurities and then apply toner to help in a more extensive cleansing of the skin.  

Is It Important to Use Toner Everyday? 

Our skin is exposed to an assault of pollutants, dirt, and thousands of microorganisms every time we step outside. However, those impurities in the skin can cause the skin to suffer drastic impact. Thus, it is necessary to cleanse your skin at least twice daily with a good quality toner. Toning will help eliminate the dirt and debris and help maintain the skin's ideal pH balance. This, in turn, helps in strengthening the skin's natural immune power.  

How Should I Apply a Toner?  

Toners are generally available as liquids that you can readily dab onto your skin. You can soak a cotton pad with your preferred toner and swipe it on your skin after cleansing, washing, and drying the skin. If you do not want to use cotton pads, you can take a few toner drops on your palm and gently press them on your face. You can use toners in spray form too. 

At What Age Should You Use a Toner? 

Anyone above twelve years of age can use toner. Teenagers are recommended to use mild toners to keep the post-pubertal acne at a minimum and help maintain the skin's optimum pH balance.   

Should a Toner be Washed Off?  

No, you do not need to wash off the toner. Washing off the toner will prevent you from enjoying its beneficial effects.  

Does a Toner Help in Reducing Acne?  

Few toners in the market are incorporated with AHA or similar facial acids that can have a mild exfoliating activity on the skin. This property of toners can help in preventing mild cases of breakouts and blemishes. However, it is not that effective against persistent cases of acne.  

Are Toners Good for Dry Skin?

Most toners available in the market usually contain some amount of alcohol. Using such toners can irritate dry skin, and you might feel a stinging or burning sensation, which can prove harmful to your skin's health in the long run. However, the advanced toners introduced in the skincare market are incorporated with some humectants in them. Using these toners can help in hydrating and soothing dry skin. 

Can Toner Help in Reducing Sun Damage?

Exposure to sun rays can cause the development of sunspots on the skin and give rise to uneven skin tone. The ingredients in a toner can reduce hyperpigmentation spots on the skin and thus reverse the damaging effects of UV rays.  

Is Good For Oily Skin?  

Toners help remove excess sebum from the deep layers of the skin and give you clear, matte skin. It also helps in minimizing open pores that reduces sebum secretion to some extent. Individuals with oily skin also sometimes prefer using alcohol-based toner. They can dry the skin that keeps the excess oil at bay.

Should Toner Include Alcohol?  

Alcohol is often termed as a "double-edged sword." Though it has some beneficial properties, alcohol can have some negative impacts on the skin too. Alcohol-based toners have antimicrobial properties that can kill acne-causing bacteria. But, they can also strip the skin of its natural moisture.  

Should You Use Toner on Sensitive Skin?

Yes, you can. But it would help if you were a little vigilant in choosing the ideal toner for your skin. According to skin experts, a toner containing moisturizing ingredients such as glycerine and hyaluronic acid is beneficial for sensitive skin. It is also recommended for individuals with sensitive skin to avoid alcohol-based toners as they will strip off the moisture from your skin cells and cause irritation.  

Can Toner Act As an Anti-aging Agent? 

The toner containing hydrating agents such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid helps draw and retain moisture in the skin. This helps in making the skin appear more plump and supple. The toner's facial acids can help remove the old, dried up, dull skin cells, revealing the younger skin cells underneath.

Thus, regular toning can make your skin look youthful to some extent. However, it is not an absolute substitute for anti-aging and can be used as a conjunction.  

Does a Toner Help in Skin Hydration? 

Yes, toners with moisturizing ingredients do help in hydrating the skin. The toner being thin and of watery viscosity, quickly gets absorbed in the skin, pulls moisture from the environment, adequately hydrates the skin, and restores its pH balance.  

Can Rose Water be Used as an Alternative for Toner?

Rosewater has long been in use as a natural toner. It is derived from distilling the petals of the Rosa damascena flower or Damask rose. It will help in hydrating skin. Rosewater also has antioxidant and antibacterial properties that keep acne-causing bacteria at bay and also reduces skin hyperpigmentation.

Can Toning Brighten Your Skin? 

Regular toning, the skin with toners with facial acids, can help exfoliate the superficial dead and dried up skin cells. This brings out the fresh, younger-looking skin cells from beneath, making your skin look brighter. Adequate hydration with toners also plays a part in this. 

Can a Toner Refresh Your Skin?  

Undoubtedly. Cleansing and toning your skin after you wake up can prep your skin for combating the assaults you will face during the day. After a long hard day, toning can refresh your skin and make your skin ready for its natural reparative process.

Can You Use Toners on Body Skin?  

Yes, of course, you can, for the same reason, use a toner on your facial skin. It can help in deep cleansing the skin and promote the skin's natural process of shedding.  

Can Toner be Used as an Alternative to After-shave Lotion? 

Yes, you can. The toner containing witch hazel is proven to be very beneficial for the nicks and cuts that happen on shaving. Its mid- astringent property can help in tightening the pores. Toners will also soothe skin irritation and calms inflammation.  

What is the Difference Between Toner and Essence?  

Toners are formulated to help restore the skin's pH balance and for deep cleansing of the skin. Simultaneously, the essences are directed towards skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, dull or uneven skin tone.  

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Difference Between Toner and Astringent? 

Astringents usually contain the same ingredients, such as toner but in higher concentration. Astringents contain higher amounts of alcohol than toner and have a similar function. However, all astringents are alcohol or chemical-based, but toners are water-based too. Astringents are not suitable for dry or sensitive skin.  

How Should You Choose the Ideal Toner for Your Skin?

It would help if you chose your facial toner according to the skin types. If you have oily skin, a toner with facial acids.   

Can You Make a Toner At Your Home?

Yes, you can. If you are not comfortable using commercial toners, you can easily concoct a DIY toner with all the right natural ingredients. Then, you can be sure of the ingredients that you put on your skin.

How Long Does It Take a Toner to Work?  

With religious use, you can expect to see the results within one to two weeks. Your pores will tighten, and you will see a visible difference.  

How Should You Know Your Toner is Working? 

You will be able to appreciate a visibly clear and brighter skin tone. Your pores will get tightened and make your skin appear youthful. This should happen within 1-2 weeks of use. 

Can I Skip Toner?  

No, skin experts do not recommend skipping toner.  

Do Toners Work?  

Yes, toners do impart multiple beneficial effects on the skin. Within a few weeks of regular toning, you can expect to feel your pores tightened and visibly brighter complexion.   

Can I Skip Moisturizer and Use Toner Instead?  

This is not generally advised. However, toners contain some hydrating agents like glycerin and hyaluronic acid that can moisturize the skin to some extent. But, proper moisturization is always necessary.  

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What is the Different Between Toner And Mist?

The main difference between mist and toner lies in their function. While toners help minimize open pores and maintain pH balance, facial mists only keep the skin hydrated. They have no action on the pores.

How Are Toner and Cleanser Different?  

A cleanser will only help clean the skin's superficial layers and might not reach the deeper layers. On the other hand, the toners can penetrate the deeper dermal layers and pull out dirt and grime. It also helps to keep acne in check and maintains the optimum pH balance of the skin.  

How is a Toner Different from Micellar Water? 

Micellar water is formulated to break down the makeup residue and effectively remove the last bits of the makeup from your skin. Whereas toners are meant for deep cleansing of the skin, it also helps tighten pores and maintain skin's pH balance.

What Does a Toner Do to Balance the pH of the Skin?

Toners usually have a pH level of 5-7 that matches the skin's acid mantle's pH. However, due to various external influences on the skin, such as bacteria, allergens, and pollutants, the skin's pH balance can disrupt. Using a toner can recalibrate the skin's pH balance to its optimal level.  

Is a Toner Supposed to Burn?  

No. Toners are formulated to soothe your skin and should not cause any burning sensation on your skin. If you face such consequences, you should immediately wash off your face. If the stinging or burning persists, it is advised to consult your doctor immediately.  

Can a Toner Help in Evening out Skin Tone?

Yes, it can. The ingredients in a toner can mildly exfoliate the skin and eventually remove the hyperpigmentation spots on the skin. Thus, in turn, it can gradually help in improving uneven skin tone.  

What Should be the Ideal Consistency for a Toner?

A toner should have the lightest possible consistency to allow the ingredients to get rapidly absorbed in the skin. Toners must not feel sticky. It should have a pH of 5-7.  

What Should You Apply After Toner? 

You can apply your choice of serums after you have applied toner. After that, you can apply moisturizer. For your AM regime, you should end your skincare routine with a broad spectrum moisturizer.  

Is There Any Alternative to a Toner?  

If you prefer not to use commercial toners, you can make DIY toners in your home with natural ingredients. Micellar water, too, can work as a cleansing ingredient that can help in removing makeup residue, dirt, grime, and sebum. Adding facial mist to the skincare regime can also help in hydrating and minimizing open pores.  

Is Using Witch Hazel as a Toner Good For the Skin?  

Witch hazel is often attributed as one of the best natural toners for skin by skin experts. It is beneficial for individuals with oily or combination skin. Witch hazel, in higher concentration, acts as an astringent. However, in diluted form, Witch Hazel can help in minimizing enlarged pores and reduce sebum production.  

How do Toners Help in Minimizing Enlarged Pores?

The toners, especially those containing salicylic acid, have a mild exfoliating property that can help pull out the dirt, cellular debris, and sebum that clogs the pores. The unclogged pores appear smaller. It also has antioxidant properties that help in tightening the open pores.

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What are Basic Ingredients in a Facial Toner? 

Facial toners can be infused with various ingredients. They can contain apple cider vinegar, rose water, different essential oils, witch hazel, and aloe vera. Commonly, toners also contain alcohol.  

Can Toner Cause Your Skin to Break Out? 

According to a dermatologist, Dr. Sam Bunting, regular use of alcohol-containing toner can exacerbate acne-prone skin sensitivity. This develops skin irritation and redness, makes the skin inflamed, and increases the risk of frequent skin breakouts.  

Is Tea Tree Toner Good for Acne? 

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that can render multiple benefits to your skin. It can combat oily skin, calm itchiness and can also help in improving acne on the skin. Thus, tea tree oil-infused toners can be beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin.

Can You Use Apple Cider Vinegar as Toner? 

Apple Cider Vinegar/ACV is an astringent that helps clean the skin, tighten pores, and remove excess oil from the skin. However, if used in diluted form, ACV can be used as a toner.   

Can You Use Toner as a Primer?  

No, you cannot. A toner helps remove dirt and grime, while a primer is used to smoothen the skin and prep your skin for putting makeup on your skin.  

Can You Use Toner as a Setting Spray? 

Yes, you can spray toner on your face after applying makeup and allow it to dry to let it act as a setting spray. However, a hydrating binder spray may function better. 

Should a Toner be Used in Winters? 

Yes, Toning is necessary all year round. It will help to keep the skin moisturized in the extremes of weather conditions.  

Should You Use Toner Before Using a Face Mask?

Applying toner will help unclog the congested pores and make your skin more receptive to enjoy the benefits of face masks.  

Are There Any Side Effects of Toning Your Skin?  

Usually, the application of toner is very safe for the skin. But, few cases have been reported where individuals have experienced a stinging and burning sensation. Some also have suffered hypersensitive reactions while using alcohol-based toners.

The Bottom Line: 

Toning your skin is undoubtedly a necessary act for its health. We hope this article has helped you to have a better idea about toners and have addressed all the major concerns you ever had about toning your skin.