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Toners go on right after cleansing, and are a fun addition to your skincare routine.
They are also effective in improving dullness, acne scars, and hydration.
We picked 14 of the best toners for various skincare concerns, so you can find the best one for you
Lots of dermatologists agree toners aren't a necessity, but they can be a huge boost to your skincare routine and skin health.
“Toners are water-based products that get applied to the skin immediately after cleansing and have various effects on the skin depending on their ingredients. In general, their purpose is to remove any leftover debris and prep the skin for other products like serums and moisturizers,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jennifer David said.
“Depending on the active ingredients in the formula,” she said, “toners can be used to chemically exfoliate dead skin, control oil, or boost hydration levels.”
That said, it's important to know which ingredients to avoid and which ones to look for, which we lay out in our FAQ section below. “When trying to find the perfect toner for yourself, it comes down to a lot of trial and error,” Dr. David says. “Know your skin type and if you're not sure, consult your dermatologist.”
We picked 14 of the best toners you can buy and rounded them up below. Whether you struggle with dryness or are looking for toners within a specific price range, we've got you covered with the best options.
The best toners in 2021
Fresh’s Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Deep Hydration Toner
Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Deep Hydration Facial Toner (small)
This toner is all about hydration. Fresh’s toner uses hyaluronic acid and an abundance of rose ingredients — including rosewater, rose oil, and real rose petals in the bottle — to hydrate and soothe skin. Plus, its rich rose smell is unmatched.
The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (small, Preferred: Sephora)
The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is especially good for people facing dullness, uneven texture, and acne scarring. The formula simultaneously exfoliates with glycolic acid and soothes via ingredients like aloe and Tasmanian Pepperberry Derivative. Some users recommend starting slow to make sure the glycolic acid doesn’t cause irritation.
Dr. David also notes that this toner is not ideal for daily use if you’re using a strong retinoid. She uses it twice a week.
Neutrogena’s Alcohol-Free Toner
Alcohol-Free Toner (small)
Neutrogena’s Alcohol-Free Facial Toner is best as a general toner that cleanses skin without drying it. The oil and alcohol-free formula is recommended for normal skin.
Mario Badescu’s Witch Hazel & Rose Water Toner
Witch Hazel & Rosewater Toner (small)
Mario Badescu offers a wide range of toners, and their Witch Hazel & Rose Water Toner is a customer-favorite. It’s made to remove impurities while keeping the skin’s moisture barrier protected. Their anti-inflammatory Witch Hazel & Lavender Toner is another favorite.
Innisfree’s Balancing Toner with Green Tea
Balancing Toner with Green Tea (small)
K-beauty brand innisfree offers a selection of toners including their Balancing toner, which champions green tea extract to hydrate and balance oil levels. Their antioxidant-rich blueberry toner is another great option.
Laneige’s Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer
Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer (small)
Laneige’s toner is actually a two-in-one product. The creamy formula works like a regular toner while also functioning as a moisturizer. It’s best for normal and dry skin.
Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow PHA +BHA Pore-Tight Toner
Watermelon Glow PHA +BHA Pore-Tight Toner (small)
Glow Recipe’s toner is all about hydration and minimizing the appearance of pores. The toner is made with pore-clearing BHAs and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Fans say this toner is hydrating and lightweight, but not at all sticky. With ingredients like watermelon extract and cactus water, it also has a pleasant, fruity smell.
Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum
Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum (small)
The Fat Water Toner from Rihanna’s Fenty Skincare line is a two-in-one product. It’s also a serum. Made with niacinamide, Barbados Cherry, and witch hazel, this formula works against dark spots, brights, and reduces the look of pores.
Sustainability bonus: This formula is thick enough to apply with your hands, so you don’t have to use cotton rounds or tissue.
Farmacy’s Deep Sweep Toner
Deep Sweep Toner (small)
Farmacy’s Deep Sweep is made with a mix of salicylic acid, papaya enzymes, and moringa extract that effectively clean pores while controlling oil. It’s best for oily and combination skin.
Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner
Niacinamide Brightening Toner (small)
Niacinamide has a variety of skincare benefits which the Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner wields to brighten dull skin and manage unevenness. The formula’s pH of 6.2 is conveniently included on the label.
Read more about why pH matters in skincare products.
Paula’s Choice’s RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner with Hyaluronic Acid
RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner with Hyaluronic Acid (small)
This fragrance-free toner is made for people concerned with fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, and dullness. Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner uses hyaluronic acid and evening primrose oil for hydration, and linolenic acids to minimize dullness.
First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner
Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner (small)
First Aid Beauty’s fragrance-free toner is all about soothing and restoring hydration. Best for all skin types, this toner is powered by oats which can help restore your skin’s moisture barrier with ceramides.
Kiehl’s Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner
Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner (small)
This toner by Kiehl’s targets dryness and uneven texture with almond milk and Lipo-Hydroxy Acid (LHA), which gently removes dead skin like a chemical peel.
Ambi Even & Clear Intense Clarifying Toner
Even & Clear Intense Clarifying Toner (small)
Unlike most toners, Ambi’s toner comes in a spray bottle and gives the option to spray or apply the solution with a cotton pad. Especially helpful for reducing acne and breakouts, the Even & Clear Intense Clarifying Toner is made with salicylic acid and soothing agents like green tea extract.
Lush’s Tea Tree Water Toner
Tea Tree Water Toner (small)
Known for their ridiculously good smelling bath bombs and lotions, Lush also offers a few toners Their Tea Tree Water Toner is made to rejuvenate oily, dull, and tired skin with a mix of tea tree water, grapefruit extract, and juniper berry water.
Ingredients to look for in a toner
There are some key ingredients to look for in your toner, like acids. These can be superstar ingredients and perform a lot of different functions.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are great for brightening and exfoliating skin. These include glycolic and lactic acids as well as citric, mandelic, and malic acids.Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), like salicylic acid, are ideal for controlling oil on acne-prone skin. These trap and wash away excess sebum.Hyaluronic acid is a helpful ingredient if you’re looking to boost hydration. Additionally, rosewater, glycerin, and vitamin E are also hydrating ingredients.
Ingredients to avoid in a toner
“Historically, toners were formulated with alcohol and other astringents which dried and irritated the skin so they fell out of favor for a while,” Dr. David says. Today, most toners do not contain alcohol and are much gentler on the skin. However, like all skincare products, finding the right toner is a matter of testing different formulas to see which one is right for you.
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