Toners: What and Why

I love toners.

Toners are one of the more mystifying aspects of skincare, both for those getting started AND for those who have been dutifully using them for years but have no idea why. My first toner experience was just from stealing my mom’s big green bottle from Clinique, which was really astringent-y (and hence very much my jam as a teenager), but in the years since, oh, the progress we’ve made, kids!

Toners do a bunch of different things. I am supposed to say “restores pH balance to your skin” because everyone does, but I am not 100% on what that means. For me, toner both acts as a bit of an extra cleanser (no matter how well you cleanse, who among us has not had some grime show up on a cotton ball after you’ve swiped your face with toner), a pore-tightener, and a place-setting for the rest of my routine. I have…too many of them. I’m a bit obsessed.

Let’s walk through ones I can recommend JOYFULLY to you. Your needs will determine which will suit you best (it’s not just for oily skin anymore!) I like a hydrating toner, as I age, but if I’m ever feeling like I want to Get Serious, I reach for:

Biologique Recherche 50: This is, I know, a controversial choice! It was recommended to me online with MANY DISCLAIMERS, such as “okay I know this ingredient was banned in the EU” and “it smells like a corpse” and “the bottle is TINY” and “I mean it’s for preserving dead people, what do you expect” and “it’s hard to buy online” but also “but it’s changed my life,” “I have not had a breakout in seven years,” “it was a little stingy for a week but it seems to have gotten rid of all the little dry bits AND cut down on my sebum production?”

Ladies and gentleman, all of the above are true. I may drift to other toners (I will not get into my standard Beauty Water by Son and Park, as it got covered in my Holy Grail edition) but this is indeed The Real Thing. Buy EXACTLY this one, do not buy the 1970 variation, it’s…a bit much.

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner: I mean, A of all, it’s FILLED WITH ROSE PETALS which makes me feel like an elf princess? But it’s exactly what it says on the tin, and it’s VERY gentle. I like it a whole bunch.

Etude House Wonder Pore Freshener: This is the one I would grab if I had more of an oily tendency, the peppermint really dives into those pores and wakes them (and you!) up.

Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner: There is a REASON this is one of Soko Glam’s bestsellers! It’s divine, simple, and a beautiful canvas for the rest of your skin regimen.

Pixi Glow Tonic and Burt's Bees Brightening Refining Tonic : These last two toners are at a lower price point, bc I think toners are getting too expensive bc the market will bear it. Every bit as good as the average $25-30 toner, and, especially in the case of the Burt’s one, free of all the things people don’t like. These are good for oily OR dry complexions, though I would recommend Burt’s for oilier and the Pixi for drier skin, if I had to choose, due to the dash of glycolic acid in the former.

Now you know about toner!! Next time? ESSENCES.