Like the middle child always begging for attention, toners never seem to get enough of the spotlight when it comes to skincare lineups. They’ve always been overlooked by their sibs—serums and moisturizers, duh—despite still being an important step in any routine.
“Toners are products used traditionally to restore PH after cleansing the face,” explains New York City-based dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D. They also prep your skin for serums and moisturizers—helping them work even better—while also getting rid of excess oil and dirt that your makeup remover or cleanser missed.
But similar to other skincare products, toners should be chosen based on your biggest skin concern—especially since most come with extra ingredients to help exfoliate and brighten skin that might play nice with drier or more sensitive skin types.
Overwhelmed? Don’t worry—here are the best toners for your face, no matter your skin type:
“If you have oily skin, look for a toner that contains witch hazel,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC. “This natural astringent is extremely effective at removing excess oil from the surface of the skin.”
Clean & Clear
Clean & Clear
“Your go-to ingredient should be salicylic acid in your toner if you’re suffering from acne,” says Zeichner. Salicylic acid removes excess oil from the skin and dives deep into pores to remove dead skin cells—helping cut down on two major causes of acne.
“This alcohol-free formulation contains a variety of botanical ingredients including rose and cornflower extracts to calm the skin,” says Zeichner. “It is gentle enough to be used across all skin types.
“Look for glycolic acid if you have mature skin,” says Zeichner. “This alpha hydroxy acid helps strengthen the skin and stimulate collagen production while removing dead cells from the skin surface.”
“If you have dry skin, look for toners that contain skin-plumping hyaluronic acid, which is one of the best humectants we have to hydrate the skin,” says Zeichner. (This one has sodium hyaluronate, which is a smaller derivative of HA.)
“Sun-damaged skin is at the same time sensitive, contains extra pigment, and may have trouble with collagen production,” explains Zeichner. “Look for a gentle mix of hydroxy acids to cleanse, exfoliate, and help stimulate collagen.”
“Pitera (the main ingredient in this toner) is an ingredient produced through fermentation that contains a combination of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that help brighten the skin,” says Zeichner.
“If you have normal or combination skin, look for ingredients like lactic acid, which can gently exfoliate and deep clean across a variety of skin types,” says Zeichner.
“For sensitive skin, look for an alcohol-free toner with soothing ingredients like vitamin E and microdroplets of hydrating oils,” says Zeichner. This toner has all of those things, so your dry skin won’t feel stripped and parched after using.
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