Skin toners are liquids or lotions that have more than one purpose in the care of facial skin. Sometimes toners are confused or mislabeled as astringents, which have another purpose.
Let’s start with astringents. Astringents are designed to cleanse the skin of the final environmental waste and toxins that are deposited on the skin during the day and the dead skin cells that accumulate during the night time hours.
Astringents are usually drying and shouldn’t be used more than several times per week and are specifically designed to fight the effects of oil and sebum on the development of acne and pimples.
Teens and those with oily skin who choose to use an astringent or toner with alcohol or witch hazel should be warned that stripping away too much oil will cause the skin to over produce sebum and make the problem much worse. Alcohol also will help to dissolve the collagen directly below the skin which aids in the effects of premature aging. (1)
On the other hand toner also serves the purpose of cleansing the skin after a good washing but it is milder and designed to be used daily, and even twice daily. Toners tend to nourish the skin and keep them hydrated while astringents are more drying and tend to strip the skin of oils.
In either case the product you use should not have a negative effect on your skin and skin type. Teenagers are more apt to find benefits from astringents while people over 30 probably should not use them at all. Check the labels of the products you’re using before purchase.
If you have an allergy to any of the ingredients you will want to avoid those products. Toners should also not contain any alcohol because it is a drying agent and can cause the skin to dry too quickly.
Skin toners are often used as the second or third step of a skin care regimen. The first step is makeup removal, the second is cleansing and the third is the final cleansing and nourishing step – skin toner. These products often freshen the skin and prepare them for moisturizer and the application of makeup.
Skin toners also restore the acid/base balance of the skin. When you wash your face the pH balance becomes distorted which can lead the skin to work hard to rebalance the skin pH. Skin toners come in to do the job of rebalancing and cleansing at the same time.
The common method of applying skin toner is to put it on a cotton ball or pad and wipe it across the face. Some toners come in spray bottles that are spritzed on. You don’t have to wash the toner off because it is meant as the finishing touch on your skin.
Those toners that are spritzed off are designed to rebalance the pH of the skin while those meant to be wiped off will rebalance the skin and effectively remove the rest of the dirt and dead skin cells you may have left behind when you washed.
Toner should not be applied close to the sensitive skin near the eyes. If you have areas of your face that are badly broken out then you’ll want to address those areas last so you don’t transfer bacteria to other areas of the face.
Not all people require the use of a toner in their daily skin care regimen. People with combination skin may find that toner works best in their T-zone, the skin over the forehead and down the center of the face, over the nose and chin. If a gentle toner is purchased then it can be used over the entire face without irritating the skin and causing any discomfort.
Once finished using the skin toner, allow the skin to dry completely and then apply your next step in skin care. This might be an anti-aging serum or final moisturizer. Once your final step is completed wait at least 10 minutes for the moisturizers to soak into the skin before applying makeup.
(1) Whole Living: Skin Toners