What's the point in toner anyway?

How To Style / 1 month ago

I'm not one for an extensive skincare routine- but there have always been a few products that I come back to time and time again. Once I had landed on a daily skincare routine that suited me... I throw the routine out the window and try and experiment with new products. It's understandable really. I read, and write, about beauty products every week and there's something that usually peaks my interested. My latest exploration has been into toners. 

For years my mum harped on at me about skincare products, amongst other things, but in particular that I should keep using a toner. Aside from the obvious benefit of 'nicer skin,' I never really understood the real reason to use a product such as a toner - until recently. I have been using a new toner for a few weeks now (thanks mum!) and I can already see a noticeable different in how soft and smooth my skin is. And that got me thinking:

What are toners used for? How do toners impact your skin?

Do you remember toners back in the noughties? It was a chemical smelling water that felt as though it was stripping your face of any excess oil (...and moisture). Although I regularly tried to integrate toners into my skincare routine- I just couldn't get behind it. The smell. The daily use of cotton balls. The feeling of dry skin. It wasn't for me.

Did you know that toner formulas have changed in recent years? Yep! Whilst next gen toners, like older formulas, still remove excess dirt from your face; it now will also nourish and replenish the skin after cleansing. No wonder my experience has been so different this time round.

what are toners used for?

What are toners used for?

I'm sure that you know the generation old mantra: cleanse, toner, moisturise. Whilst 2 of out the 3 steps became non-negotible for our skincare routine the toner was left up to personal choice. I see-saw as to whether toner really is a necessary step in the routine however it seems like yes, it's really nice nice-to-have.

There are 3 major benefits to using a toner as part of your skincare routine:

  • Toners remove impurities
  • Toners prepare your skin to better absorb moisturisers
  • Toners protect the skin

Firstly, yes. Toners act as one extra step to cleansing your face and wiping away any last traces of makeup or dirt. Rather than an astringent (old school) toner, toners should gently refresh your skin without stripping it of its natural moisture.That's why new-age toners leave your skin feeling clean and fresh. Next to cleansing, toners can actually help to better protect the skin as it closes up your pores and helps to balance out your PH levels. Closed pores = spot free. Good. Finally, toners prepare your skin to drink up that all import post-cleansing moisuriser (and other treatments). To me, that's one of the biggest benefits of regularly using a toner. I wanna make sure that all that good-stuff is going into my skin (and bad stuff, out!).

Like with all skincare products, you need to find out what product suits you best based on your skin type.

  • Light toners (best for sensitive skin)
  • Strong toners (best for oily skin)

How to apply toners:

The best way to apply to toners to your skin is using a cottonpad or ball. It helps to wipe away excess dirt and apply the product to your skin. Now, like many others trying to reduce their plastic consumption, I was stuck for a while with how I could apply toners to my skin without needing a cotton pad.  Obvioulsy nowadays there's heaps of options when it comes to plastic free alternatives. So you could continue to use a reusuable cotton pad. The beauty industry also clocked onto the need to create more sustainable beauty products so there are some new ways to apply toners. Toners come in all types of bottles; namely spray bottles that you can apply straight to your skin. You can actually apply toners straight to your face using clean hands. It won’t have exactly the same cleansing effect as when you use a cotton ball but your skin will still drink up all those other great properties.

Alternatives to cotton balls

Like the eco-friendly 20-something year old that I strive to be, I stopped using cotton balls and cotton pads years ago. However, in my mind, this became a barrier to being able to use skincare products because they typically required a wipe or a pad - but of course there are now solutions to this.

Firstly, I found out throughout researching for this blog, you don’t always need to use a pad. Like with toners for example, you can apply the toner directly onto your skin just using your hands and it will have pretty much the same effect. 

However, the best way to apply toner to your face is with a little pad and in 2022 there of course sustainable solutions for this. You could switch your usual cotton pads for organic cotton or bamboo pads which are an improvement - of which you can find plenty of options on Etsy. Or an alternative to disposable cotton balls altogether would be to use a reusable cotton pad, such as the brand I recently discovered, Last Object.