Toner is often referred to as “the forgotten step” in a skin-care routine. Maybe it’s because there’s often confusion as to why it’s needed and how it really benefits the skin. While it isn’t a fit for everyone, a great toner can balance your skin’s pH and leave it looking healthier and more radiant. And what if we said there were toners that had exfoliating benefits, too? Here’s what you should know:
How they work:
According to celebrity aesthetician Nerida Joy, exfoliating toners contain ingredients that provide a deeper cleansing of the skin both topically, with absorbing ingredients such as allantoin, as well as deeper-cleaning ingredients such as alphahydroxy acid and other types of acids.
How they’re different:
“Regular toners are used for more superficial hydrating or sometimes just spritzed on the face for a refreshing, cooling effect,” says Joy. “Regular exfoliators—creams and scrubs—can be aggressive and more abrasive with a scratching of sorts on the skin’s surface, sometimes even causing capillary damage.”
How to use them:
Joy says to start by using a gentle cleansing cream or gel and then rinsing with lukewarm water or a warm washcloth. Next, apply the exfoliating toner all over your face using a cotton ball. “How often you apply will depend on your skin type and condition, plus your daily skin-care regimen, the climate you live in and the season of year.” Ask your dermatologist if there is room in your current routine for an exfoliating toner and if your skin can benefit from using one. “I would suggest that they are good for someone who wears heavy, show-type makeup, or someone who has a congested or oily skin type,” adds Joy.
If you have sensitive skin, Joy recommends rinsing your face with lukewarm water after using an exfoliating toner and adjusting your usage as the seasons change.
Why we like them:
They work great for oily skin (but you might want to avoid if yours is super dry) and they can help with keeping your pores cleaner, which means they’ll look smaller (a huge plus!).
Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner ($39, clarinsusa.com)
REN Clean Skincare Clarimatte Clarifying Toner ($28, renskincare.com)
Lancôme Tonique Radiance Clarifying Exfoliating Toner ($25, lancome-usa.com)