Why Toner Is The Unsung Hero Of The Skincare World

Full-profiled girl posing with toner on her skin face

Tone Up!

Skincare can be complex and confusing, especially when it comes to navigating the various uses and roles of specific products. We've all heard of toner at this point in our lives, but what exactly is it good for? Well, in a nutshell, toner is the in-between step taken after cleanser and before serums and moisturizer. While its original purpose was to rebalance the skin's pH levels (as harsh soaps and cleansers can do quite the number on the complexion), that has evolved and changed over the years, making toner more necessary than ever. See, these days, toners are key in prepping skin for the targeted serums and creams we apply, and ensure our complexions are in optimum shape to absorb and receive the full benefits of said products. They help rid the skin of excess oil and often include exfoliating properties to ensure a clean and balanced working space. Many even include nourishing properties of their own to complement subsequent skincare.

By now, you've probably familiarized yourself with your skin type and know what types of products, formulas and ingredients work best for you in terms of makeup and skincare. Well, that knowledge and discernment should apply to your toner selection as well. With so many options on the market touting new and buzzy ingredients, it's hard to decipher which one will work for your skin. For this reason, we enlisted the help of NYC dermatologist, Dr. Hadley King, to break down the comon ingredients found in toners and which are best for each complexion type. Get ready to have your skin feeling and looking fresher than ever.

For Oily Or Acne-Prone Skin

Salicylic-infused toner is ideal for those with acneic complexions, as the ingredient, "penetrates deeper into the pores to remove excess oil," says Dr. Hadley. Those who are prone to sudden breakouts have a bit more oil to extract, so this magic potion will help keep your skin clean as a whistle.

Another ingredient to look out for in toners is witch hazel. This natural herb wipes out excess oil without stripping the skin of moisture.

For Dull Skin

Is your skin looking dull? There's a toner for that, too. Dr. Hadley King says that glycolic acid is one of the best ingredients for targeting dullness. It gently exfoliates the surface, sloughing away dead skin cells, so your complexion is left looking brighter and more rejuvenated. (It's great for complexions with existing sun damage, as it helps boost collagen production and thicken the skin.)

For Uneven Tone

According to Dr. King, another ingredient that is great for brightening and evening out skin tone is lactic acid. Similar to glycolic, lactic acid is an AHA and natural exfoliant. However, lactic acid has more hydrating properties and can be less irritating, so it's best suited for dry and sensitive skin types. A lactic acid toner can help balance the tone of the skin, lending a more illuminating finish and minimizing the appearance of pores—yes, please!

For Dry Or Mature Skin

For those with dry or mature skin, Dr. King recommends either hyaluronic acid toners or rosewater-infused formulas. Both of these ingredients are extremely hydrating and absorb well into the skin for longtime moisture. They'll help plump up the complexion and retain its moisture, leaving your face looking healthier and smoother.