Find Out Which Type of Toner Works Best for Your Skin

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Toners are not a must, but it’s always better to use one than not to. As an in-between skincare step, toners help remove any residue your face wash did not take off while adding extra benefits to the skin. Yet, a toner benefits your complexion only when picked in harmony with your concerns and skin type — like all products on your shelf. Hence, this post explains the different types of toners and how to pick the right one for your skin so you always get the best-in-class results.

Types of toners

  • Hydrating: These toners deliver a quick hydration hit while removing impurities from the skin’s surface. They are usually lightweight, don’t strip skin of moisture, and pack humectants like hyaluronic acidglycerin, aloe vera, and honey that aid in relieving dryness, plumping fine lines, balancing sebum, and easing sensitivities. Hydrating toners are suitable for all skin types but work best on dry, dehydrated skin.
  • Exfoliating: If dullness, excess oil, pimples, or dark patches concern you, keep exfoliating toners on your radar. These include alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids (like glycolic and salicylic acids) and fruit enzymes to encourage dead cells buildup to shed off and renew the skin. 
  • pH balancing: A toner that aims to recalibrate skin pH calms and is infused with replenishing ingredients, such as ceramidescholesterol, and hyaluronic acid. Hence, pH-balancing toners are most suitable for people who experience a compromised skin barrier.
  • Brightening: Some toners work incredibly well to support bright and luminous skin. Usually, brightening toners are made with glycolic acid, forms of vitamin C, licorice root extract, or resveratrol. These vitamin C toners are a great start.

Toner vs. astringent

Toners and astringents are suitable for removing leftovers the cleanser didn’t wash away. The difference between them is that toners are more gentle and can be used by everyone, while astringents are harsher, contain higher amounts of alcohol, and work on drying out excess oil. This means astringents are suitable for oily skin types only.

Toner vs. facial mist

Toners and facial mists have two different roles. Toners provide extra cleansing benefits and are usually the second step in a skincare routine, while facial mists work to set makeup as well as soothe and refresh the complexion and are often used as the last step of the routine.

How to pick the right toner for your skin

Toners are meant to prepare your face for the next steps in your routine, so you should pick a type of toner that complements your skin.

Oily skin

Oily skin folks need toners that aid in controlling sebum production in the first place and also hydrate and exfoliate. Your toner mustn’t dehydrate either, as that could drive the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, so balance is key when choosing a toner for oily skin. 

Salicylic and glycolic acids are the MVPs for providing sebum-balancing benefits while also helping unclog pores and prevent blackheads — two common concerns of oily skin.[1] Or, if you’re o the hunt for plant-derived formulas, look out for witch hazel-infused toners. Ingredients that sop up excess sebum are usually drying, so when picking a toner for oily skin, ensure it includes hydrators like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe vera, or other humectants, too. Last but not least, look for the non-comedogenic label when choosing your type of toner, which means the product doesn’t contain pore-clogging elements.

Related: 10 Salicylic Acid Toners to Balance Oily Skin

Dry skin

If your skin is dry, choose a hydrating toner infused with calming and replenishing ingredients. This goes for mature skin as well since it lacks moisture. So, a suitable toner for dry skin should pack amino acids, cholesterol, and ceramides, all of which are skin-identical actives that strengthen skin and relieve dryness.[2] Also, squalane, hyaluronic acid, trehalose, and glycerin work incredibly well at infusing moisture and hydration, while elements like bisabolol and allantoin are skin calmers, two must-haves in toners for dry skin.

Related: 8 Best Toners for Mature Skin To Keep It Hydrated

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin should aim for calming toners that aid in balancing skin pH. Nature-derived ingredients, such as Centella asiatica extract, aloe vera, and fermented rice are excellent for soothing skin and helping relieve reactions.[3] When the skin is bothered, what’s not in your toner is as important as what is. Thus, avoid toners that feature drying alcohols, fragrances, or salicylic acid.

Acne-prone skin

Acne-prone skin is vulnerable, so when choosing your toner, you must ensure it won’t make you breakout, dehydrate or irritate your skin, nor clog your pores. Similar to toners for oily skin, acne-prone folks should ensure their toner contains salicylic acid that helps clear breakouts and hydrators, like glycerin and sodium hyaluronate. A toner for acne-prone skin should also include calming agents, such as green tea, chamomile, or niacinamide, all good at easing inflammation and soothing redness, which often occur when skin is prone to breakouts. 

Related: 9 Toners for Blackheads Experts Swear By

How to use toners

Considering you now know what type of toner works best for your skin, it’s time to learn how to use toners in your skincare routine. 

  1. Use your toner after cleansing and before treatment, morning and night.
  2. Soak a cotton pad with toner until it feels damp, and gently spread the product over your face and neck. Avoid the eye area.
  3. Finish your routine by applying your treatment of choice and moisturizer. Don’t forget to use SPF during the day.
  4. If you like the refreshing and cooling feeling, use a misted toner after you’ve layered all your products.


  1. Kornhauser A, Coelho SG, Hearing VJ. Applications of hydroxy acids: classification, mechanisms, and photoactivity. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2010 Nov 24,
  2. Spada F, Barnes TM, Greive KA. Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin’s own natural moisturizing systems. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018 Oct 15,
  3. Puttarak, Panupong & Pichayakorn, Wiwat & Sripoka, Kanchana & Chaimud, Khwanrudee. (2015). Preparation of Centella Extracts Loaded Aloe Vera Transdermal Patches for Wound Healing Purpose. Advanced Materials Research,
Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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