Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Mahek Chawla (Dietitian & Nutritionist) on 02nd Mar 2021

Toners for Oily Skin and Skin-friendly Ingredients

Toners For Oily Skin & Skin-Friendly Ingredients

You probably have had enough information about the importance of having a fixed skincare routine by now! Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing (CTM) are not just trends to follow for the sake of following. These are rules to live by if you want your skin to behave itself.

What are toners and why should they be used is covered by us in a different article. Today we are here to give you an insight into what goes into the making of a toner.

Like most of the products, toners should be used as per your skin type, not because they can cause harm if used differently but because they are such mild products that they might be of no use if they are not used correctly.

Oily and acne-prone skin is a major problem worldwide, with more than 80% of youth cribbing about their breakouts. This group of the population has given the industry to come up with tons of products to choose from. Although all skin types should use toners, oily and acne-prone skin needs more toning ingredients.

The broad category of ingredients used in toners are astringents, preservatives, emulsifiers, water or chemical bases, etc.  

The Function of Toners: 

Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner
Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner
Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner
Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner

Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA) 3% Face Toner

₹ 395

When to use: AM / PM

Frequency: Everyday

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Let's recap this quickly! Toners work as pore minimizing agents by cleaning any residue from makeup or any other products. Thus, they provide an extra cleanse for your skin, especially when it's exposed to so much dirt, dust, and pollution.

Now that you have a brief of toners, below are certain ingredients that should be looked for when choosing a toner to reduce sebum production, greasy look, acne, pimples, blackheads, et al. 

  • Tea tree - it is an antiseptic ingredient with a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, which is why it can be used as an anti-acne agent. Toners with such claims usually contain tea tree extract or oil in different amounts.
  • Clary sage - clary sage oil is thought to have antibacterial qualities. A 2015 study research looking at the antibacterial effects of clary sage essential oil found its antibacterial qualities worked against all bacterial strains tested. Clary sage essential oil was also found to reduce the growth of E. coli significantly and appeared to attack bacteria cells in several different ways. Some other studies have also proved its antifungal effect.
  • Salicylic acid - Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). Hence, lipid or oil-soluble acid can break through the lipid barrier and penetrate deep into the skin to remove the excess gunk and oil accumulated. A 2015 comprehensive review stated that this component/ingredient is effective & safe for acne treatment. Additionally, a small 2018 study showed that commercially available salicylic acid could reduce comedones and inflammatory papules.
  • Witch hazel - This wild herb has many benefits. Witch hazel is a natural astringent derived from leaves, twigs, and barks of a flowering shrub called Hamamelis Virginiana. Phenolic compounds like Tannins and gallic acid present in witch hazel have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, instantly calming down the skin's redness, pain, and irritability. It is also used as a go-to product to ward off inflammatory-related conditions such as sunburn, insect bites, acne, eczema, and psoriasis affecting your skin. It cleanses the pores, preventing blackheads and acne.
  • Green tea has polyphenols that reduce the activity rate of sebaceous glands, reducing oil or sebum being produced. Though there is little evidence-based information regarding its efficiency, anecdotal reports claim that green tea is an efficient toner
  • Acids - Look for beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), or polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) like salicylic, glycolic, or lactic acids in lower concentrations or combination with milder ingredients like aloe vera, as they exfoliate the skin, clear your pores, and reduce sebum production. 
  • Aloe vera - this homegrown plant deals with all your skin-related issues, be it acne, mild pigmentation, sunburns, hair growth, dull skin, et al. A 2008 study has documented an entire review of how aloe vera can be highly beneficial for the body. Particularly for oily skin, it has attributes like antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, etc., because it has certain phenolic compounds called anthraquinones responsible for its abilities. Moreover, it even has many vitamins like C and E, minerals, sugar, and antioxidants, making it a multifunctional ingredient.

Aloe vera is also very mild and has high compatibility with other products, making it a perfect base for adding concentrated ingredients.  

Now that you know what the different options available for you to choose a product are, have a look at how to use it : 

  • Toners being the second step in the CTM regimen, should always be applied via spray or leave on post-cleansing. This is to make sure that your pores have broken through the outermost layer.  
  • Pat dry your face after cleansing before applying any toner.  
  • Let it sit or stay for about 3 to 5 mins to absorb well into the pores.  
  • For very oily skin, toner and serum or acid can be used regularly without moisturizing.
  • Stay away from irritants that may or may not show you the sign of irritation. Toners with alcohol can be used by oily skin to control the excess oil, but otherwise, alcohol can sting and cause some irritation.  
  • If you have your makeup on for a very long time, try to double cleansing by first cleaning your face with a makeup remover, then cleanser, and then applying a generous amount of toner via a cotton pad or spray bottle.  
  • Let the toner sit for a few minutes before you moisturize.  

How many times should one use a toner? 

Technically, a toner should be applied each time you cleanse your face to cover the pores that become open after you cleanse. So, particularly for oily and acne-prone skin, if you are washing your face twice a day, make sure you use a toner twice. However, it isn't a compulsion to use a toner each time you cleanse, so if your skin has shifted from feeling oily to dry, post using toner once a day, keep following that. Toners are complementary products; hence you shouldn't be worried about their use. 

Will the above ingredients help me with acne?

Yes! All the mentioned ingredients can help you deal with acne more holistically. Toners containing these ingredients can leave your skin a little dry, eventually reducing oil on the surface.

How much time does it take for a toner to show visible results? 

Well, toner is no magic potion to show immediate and drastic results, but with consistency comes good skin. In about 2 to 3 weeks, one can expect to see and feel a less greasy look and reduce acne or pimples' redness and inflammation. Thus, you can consider toner as a treatment and prevention if you are vulnerable to open pore damage.  

How much toner to use? 

An even layer all over the face works just fine for everyone. Please avoid the eye area or spray with your eyes closed as these toners contain acids that are not good for your eyes.

Who should be using oil reducing toners? 

People with oily and acne-prone skin. Teenagers, adolescents, and people in their early 20s should be more careful to include such toners. During this age, sebaceous glands are very active, and pollution and stress add to the preexisting skin conditions. Thus, they should include toners that suit their skin without any worry.

How do we know if toners are working? 

With toner, a significant change observed is smoother and plumper skin. Though it depends on a toner's ingredients, they usually leave your pores looking smaller or shrink it up to make the skin surface look more even.  

For how long should one use a toner? 

There is no definite period for you to use toners. Occasionally skipping toners doesn't harm either. So, making it a staple for your skin can be better.  


With so many products available to help you with your target problems, it is expected to cause a lot of confusion at your end, which is why we are always here to break down the science of beauty. In general, along with the ingredients mentioned above, you can try many others which claim the same properties as they will more or less do the same job. Trying what suits you and keeping a hold of it will help you in the long run.
Happy toning!