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woman applying toner to a pad

What does face toner do?

23 Nov 2022 • 1 min read

Some people swear by toner as an essential step in their skincare routine. Others have never used face toner, and have no idea why you would. Toner doesn’t clean, and it doesn’t moisturise, so there’s a bit of mystery around what it does. However, toner is a skincare powerhouse. Of course, you should rinse skin thoroughly, but, occasionally, some soap or cleanser is left behind. And that’s when toner comes in, to remove excess product from the skin. While your pores are open post-wash, toner’s soothing ingredients can permeate the skin to calm and clear. In this article, we’ll explain what face toner is, when you should use it, and how to use it effectively.

What is a face toner?

Toner is a water-based liquid which shares the same consistency as water unless it’s an acid toner – in which case, it’s more gel-like. Most toners contain skin salves like aloe vera, grape extract, and chamomile, which soothe skin, reducing puffiness and redness in the process. Acid toners exfoliate the skin. You can choose between AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) or BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) acid toners. Be advised that AHA toners enhance skin’s sensitivities to UV Rays, whereas BHA toners do not.

When to use face toner

You should use face toner whenever you cleanse or moisturise, as the second step in a three-step skincare routine. No matter how many steps you follow, you should always use toner second, after cleansing. To improve skin luminosity, it’s best that you diligently stick to your skincare routine every morning and night. Pollution and makeup get lodged in pores throughout the day, which can affect skin appearance. Luckily, toner helps to further cleanse the skin, picking up the debris from inside pores, which cleansers alone might miss. Some people swear there’s no need to clean your skin in the morning, but you might disagree. Unless you change your pillowcase every night, unfortunately, bacteria gathers on their surface, as a consequence of environmental dust and sweat expulsion. Make sure this bacteria doesn’t contribute to the development of skin issues, like acne, by cleansing, toning, and moisturising your skin each morning.1

How to use face toner

After cleansing, gently dab your face with a clean towel. Then, soak a reusable cotton pad in toning liquid and apply to your face. Start at your nose, moving across each cheek. Then, run upward across your forehead. Finally, apply toner to the chin. Do this each time you cleanse, tone, and moisturise. Use acid toners twice a week as an exfoliator. Because acids are active ingredients, its best to use them in the evening, when your skin will be exposed to less environmental stressors, than on a busy working day. Shop Toners Expertly reviewed by: Last updated: 2 December 2020 Sources  1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6560440/

Manisha Taggar


Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: May 2019

BSc Hons in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Science

Manisha started her career at a Cosmetics distributor as a Regulatory Technologist followed by a Regulatory Affairs Officer, ensuring the regulatory compliance of cosmetic products from colour cosmetics to skincare.

After 3 and half years in this role, Manisha joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Manisha specialises in Cosmetic products, both own-label and branded lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

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