The mention of toner pads may evoke Y2K memories of swiping on Stridex the second a blemish started brewing, extinguishing it with a potent combo of salicylic acid and witch hazel that made your eyes burn. However, South Korea’s most popular skin care product category at the moment is about to give you a corrective toner pad experience with their ultra-gentle, deeply moisturizing formulas.
Toner pads’ resurgence in the Korean beauty market — and on TikTok — is largely because they are incredibly easy to use, New Jersey-based board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Hee Jin Koh, M.D., shares with TZR. “It’s a mess-free way to apply toner. You don’t need a separate cotton pad,” she explains. “You can just directly place the toner pads onto the skin.”
Because Koreans often seek out the most efficient ways to streamline their complexion regimens, toner pads feature just the multi-functionality they seek out, Daniella Jung, the founder of Korean beauty incubator Most Inc. based in Seoul, tells TZR.
The pads often offer major hydration and soothing benefits, as well as gentle exfoliation for even the most sensitive of skin with the help of chemical exfoliants, like LHA and PHA, Dr. Koh says. Plus, you get a bit of physical exfoliation via the texture of the pad itself, so you can instantly sweep away the dead skin, dirt, and excess oil on the surface of the skin while simultaneously working towards a smoother complexion as the exfoliating acids delve into pores.
Jung loves to use toner pads as a second step in her double cleansing routine. “I don’t wear heavy makeup, so I tend to use gel cleanser as my first cleanser and then toner pads with mild exfoliation,” she says. From there, you can slather on your favorite serum or you can go straight for the moisturizer.
As if that weren’t enough, toner pads also act “as a quick morning sheet mask before applying makeup” for a smoother, fresher canvas, Jung adds. Try placing one on your forehead, cheeks, and chin, and then wait five minutes for a more concentrated application of your toner pad’s ingredients, as Dr. Koh often does. You can even mix and match different formulas depending on what each part of your face needs. “I sometimes use hydrating toner pads on my cheeks and use more intense exfoliating ones on my T-zone area,” Dr. Koh says.
Ready to add toner pads to your skin care routine? Keep scrolling to discover the most popular toner pads in Korea.