Reader Question: do I really need toner?

Do I really need toner

 Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free TonerBiore Blemish Treating Astringent | Kate Somerville Clarifying Treatment Toner | Mario Badescu Special Cucumber Lotion | Boscia Balancing Facial Tonic


Hey Jamie!

I have a question…what is the purpose of toner? Is it necessary? AND, after I take off my makeup (using Queen of the Quarter Life Crisis-approved Neutrogena makeup removing wipes) and wash my face, when I put the toner on should there be dirt or some kind of grey to brown on the cotton ball or does that mean that my face wash isn’t working well enough?




Hey “E”!

That’s a great (and really common) question.  My first experience with toner was when I did PR for Sea Breeze back in the day…that stuff was hard core, let me tell you, but it had a cult-like following.  Here’s the story: toners are greatly misunderstood.

What are they? Toners are traditionally used to balance the skin’s pH and remove anything that your cleanser missed (hence why you see color on your cotton ball after you use it).  Newer toners actually can be really hydrating and have added benefits with good-for-you ingredients, depending on the product.

Should I use one?  Since there are so many different kinds, you just have to do some research to see which toner is best for your skin (my favorites are above).  Some contain alcohol, which removes excess oil and helps prevent breakouts but can also dry out skin.  However, most derms say that anyone with eczema or rosacea (ahem, me!) should avoid them due to sensitivity.

  • If you have oily skin, look for toners with salicylic acid, sulfur, or tea tree oil
  • If you have dry skin, grab ones with panthenol, hyaluronic acid, aloe, and glycerin

Good luck!



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