First of all "toner" is a loose term, practically any skin-product in liquid form calls itself a toner.
So, what is a toner ?A toner is a product that restores the acid mantle of the skin after cleansing, and to refresh the skin during the day. Some products labeled "toner" are actually liquid forms of applying with AHA or BHA acids -- so I would call them serums, not toners.
What does a toner do ?
- Restores the pH balance of the skin after cleansing
- Removes traces of cleanser
- Refreshes the skin
- It usually has cleansing properties
- Additionally, it may have other properties (such as moisturising, soothing, removing blemishes, etc), depending on the ingredients
Should I tone after cleansing ?This depends upon the cleanser you use. Typical cleansing products -- whether gels, milks or other -- are usually alkaline, so wiping your face afterwards with something with a lower pH is a good idea. If you cleanse using a pH neutral product, you don't need a toner to restore the acid mantle, but you could use it for it's other benefits.
Should I moisturise after toning ?I've always had a problem with this one, since I don't like product layering: you never know how ingredients interact with each other. Besides, products work best alone. If you do want to moisturise after toning, wait for a bit to let the toner sink in. 15 minutes would be optimal. Personally, I don't bother to moisturise in the summer since my skin does not need extra moisture (thank you oil cleansing).
Toning to refresh the skin in the dayThe way I like to use a toner is to wipe my face with it during the day, especially before going out or to clean of the dust and sweat when I get home. I confess I also like the nice smell !
What about my skin type ?Toners used to be advertised as a product for oily skin. Toners contained alcohol, which removed the oil, mattified the skin and gave a tingly feeling --- "instant effects" the price of which was irritation and over-drying of the skin, which usually led to more oil production !
Any skin type can use a toner -- as long as the toner does not contain an ingredient that should not be used on that skin type.
Right, I wanna use one. Which one should I get ?Avoid anything with alcohol. It will only dry out and irritate the skin.
For my toner recommendations as well as some great DIY recipes, watch this space !
Update: Hydrolates make great toners !
A big thanks to Janine for motivating cover this important topic that I had neglected so far !
Photo by topupthetea