What Does a Toner Do, Actually?

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If you’ve passed by facial toners at any point in the beauty aisle, you might have quite a few questions, especially if you aren’t familiar with the product. What does toner do? How do you use toner? You might even be wondering what is toner? Unlike moisturizers and cleansers that have clear purposes, toners are not as widely understood. (They’ve also gotten a bad rap for being drying in the past.) Still, new and updated versions deserve a front row spot in your skin-care regimen.

Whether you have dry skin, oily skin, or even combination skin, there is a toner out there for you. Once you understand how to use this skin-toning liquid in your routine, trust us, you’ll never want to go back.

Ahead, we answer all of your burning questions, like what is toner, what does toner do for your face, and how to use facial toner. (You can also find out how it differs from a serum or essence here.) Keep scrolling to learn everything there is to know about the multifacted product.

What is Toner?

A toner is a liquid solution that’s designed for use after washing your face. You can apply it using your hands or by putting it on a cotton pad and swiping it over your skin. The purpose of a toner is to help balance the skin’s pH and remove leftover dirt and residue that you may have missed with your cleanser.

The toners you see on the shelves of drugstores and beauty retailers today are not what they used to be. “The older generation of toners were characterized by their extreme drying effect,” clinical dermatologist Sejal Shah, MD, tells POPSUGAR. “But the newer generation of toners, influenced by Asian skin-care routines, are formulated to rebalance the skin after cleansing, prepare it for products that are applied afterward, and even address a variety of issues.”

What Does Toner Do?

Depending on the additional ingredients in the formulation, some toners can help minimize the appearance of pores, hydrate skin, or brighten discoloration. “They allow consumers to apply an extra layer of ingredients to their skin-care routine, as the toners can be applied underneath serums and moisturizers,” says New York City-based clinical dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD.

There are toners specifically formulated for those with oily, acne-prone skin, options for those with dry skin types looking for an extra boost of hydration, and even toners that serve as chemical exfoliants and help with fine lines, dark spots, and acne marks. The key to finding the right product is looking for one with your skin type in mind.

How to Use Facial Toner

Using facial toner is fairly easy to get the hang of. The biggest thing you’ll want to remember is which step you use it in your routine. After cleansing your skin, you’ll want to apply your toner to a cotton round or directly onto your hands before rubbing it on your face, neck, and decolletage. Once your skin has dried, feel free to go in with other products like serums and moisturizer.

Additional reporting by Kristin Corpuz and Renee Rodriguez

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