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The Truth About Toners

The Truth About Toners

Before you think about skipping the step of toning, think again. Eleanor Pendleton reveals why toners are making a comeback.

To tone or not to tone — that is the question. Over the years, toners have become a confusing category of skin care as a result of out-dated information and formulas.

Originally, toners (or “astringents”) were developed to remove mineral oil based cleansers. Since traditional cleansers were tissued off because mineral oil couldn’t be washed off the skin, a toner had to contain SD alcohol to remove the cleanser and mineral oil off the skin’s surface. As a result, many people found toners — or more specifically, SD alcohol — irritating and drying to their skin.

But, those days are over and a lot has since changed. Nowadays, toners come in a variety of gentle splash-on and spray-on formulas.

“Toners not only rebalances the skin but removes any trace of cleansing particles – making sure the skin is super cleansed, balanced and pores are refined – preventing the skin from becoming congested,” says Nichola Joss, Sanctuary Spa skin expert. “It might seem like an unnecessary step after you’ve just washed your face, but honestly, your skin will be so much better for it.”

Modern toners are designed to intensely hydrate the skin, calm and refresh thanks to gentle yet effective ingredients such as plant botanicals; and give the complexion overall clarity and evenness.

Here, we reveal the do’s and don’ts of using toners.

DO use a toner if you have oily skin:

If you have combination or oily skin, a toner can help balance your sebum levels and restore your skin to it’s protective pH level while removing residue. Opt for a formula that contains hydroxy acids — these will gently exfoliate and remove dead skin cells while botanical extracts such as witch hazel, rosemary, aloe vera and chamomile work to soften, sooth and tone the skin.

L’Occitane Angelica Lemon Mattifying Toner

DO apply a toner after cleansing: 

By applying a toner to freshly clean skin, the skin’s barrier is more susceptible to skin-nourishing ingredients. Soak a cotton pad with your toner or splash some in the palm of your hand and then pat gently onto your skin. Skin will be hydrated and texture smooth — and your face will be ready to tackle whatever serum and daily moisturiser you throw at it.

Dr. Lewinn’s Synergise Toner

DO apply a toner if you have sensitive skin: 

Those with dry or sensitive skin typically shy away from toners because of their astringent, drying reputation. After all, the last thing dry, sensitive skin needs are irritants that make it even drier or redder. But the right toner for dry or sensitive skin can make a world of difference: you’ll see less redness, less flaking, and your skin will feel comfortable and soothed.

NP St Detoxifying Tone

DON’T apply a toner after your makeup: 

It’s a no brainer: a splash-on toner will muddle your make-up, however, a spritz formula won’t. In fact, a spritz toner is a great hygienic option, which will rehydrate your skin and cool and refresh your complexion — all the while keeping your make-up in check.

Dermalogica Multi-Active Toner

DON’T use alcohol based toner: 

While most toners are now alcohol-free, it doesn’t hurt to check the ingredients list and label. When choosing a toner, natural ingredients come out on top. Look for calming naturals such as calendula, which is an oil extracted from the common marigold flower. Its mild properties make it ideal for use on all oily skin types including sensitive skin.

Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal-Extract Alcohol-Free Toner

DON’T use a toner if you want big pores: 

But, who wants enlarged pores anyway? It’s true — a toner can help minimise the size of them. Pore refining toners are best applied after cleansing or a mask (as opposed to over the top of make-up). A gentle toning formula will help shrink the size of pores and reduce the formation of blemishes, without stripping the skin.

Sanctuary Spa Deep Cleanse Facial Pore Refining Toner

Written by Eleanor Pendleton

Eleanor Pendleton is a leading authority on all things beauty. The award-winning journalist has been published in some of world’s largest publications including Harper’s BAZAAR Australia and Cosmopolitan Bride. She has also served as Beauty Editor at magazines including InStyle and FAMOUS. Eleanor is responsible for editing the popular beauty website, Gritty Pretty. Here are her stories and videos during her time as The Carousel's Contributing Beauty Editor.


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