Rebuild Your Routine: Toner Time!

Hello! I can hardly contain my excitement for our third installment of Rebuild Your Routine, because today we are talking about my most favorite skincare step of all-time: TONER! I love toner so much that once upon a time, I wrote an extensive blog all about toner. Much of this content is from that post but I do encourage you to check it out in its entirety here, as it includes a fun experiment you can try at home to test your toner. It also includes options for natural toners AND even more information about toner. For now, let's cover some of the basics.

Toner 101: So, you probably already know that toner is traditionally the step that comes after cleansing your face. Ideally, right after. The basic idea is that toner gets whatever your cleanser did not. The truth is that cleansers are great for removing most of the gunk from your face, but sometimes they don't get everything. Following a cleanse, it is not abnormal for stuff to get left behind - makeup sitting in nooks and crannies (I know. Ew. But this is why you need toner!), pollution, chlorine and minerals from your tap water, even traces of cleanser can still be clinging to your face. But not to worry! *Trumpet noise* Toner to the rescue!

Benefits: I once heard toner described as "the way to get Denver and your day off of your face." I couldn't agree more. Toner takes your face to the next level of clean in a way that cleanser doesn't always achieve. The other important function of a toner is to help restore your skin's pH balance. Following cleansing, it's not unusual for your skin's pH to be out of whack. Your skin is meant to be a little naturally acidic, but in the process of stripping your skin of excess oil and debris, your cleanser can also disrupt that natural protective barrier. Toner is what helps balance things out again, allowing the rest of your product to work better as well.

How much and how often? Ideally you should use toner day and night, but at least once a day. As we've already discussed, toner is meant to be used right after cleansing and before you apply other product. Always begin here. It's important to know that toners come in different formats from cleansing pads to spritzes, to just a big old bottle of liquid. To truly effectively cleanse the skin, I prefer to get a cotton round damp with toner and then swipe the whole face with it. Same goes for pre-soaked cleansing pads.

That said, a good spritzing toner can be nice for freshening up and hydrating. If your toner is the spritz kind, you have a couple of options - you can spritz directly onto your face and wipe off the excess with a round, or spritz on to the round and wipe clean. If you still feel you need extra hydration after that, you can always spritz directly and leave it be.

Photo by @gagewoodphoto courtesy of Sorella Apothecary

What to look for: On top of everything we've already discussed, it's important to know that different toners do different things. This is critical to choosing the right one. So many people make the mistake of grabbing a strong astringent toner geared at targeting breakouts, but many of those products are too harsh and can actually aggravate your skin by overdrying it. Luckily, you have many more options. Toners can be balancing, yes. But did you know they can also be hydrating? Some of my favorite toners contain hyaluronic acid, which helps bind water to your skin. This is beneficial for all skin types. Along with hydrating, toners can be soothing with ingredients like aloe or rose. Or exfoliating with ingredients like lactic or glycolic acid. If you are acneic, a balancing toner is good but you can also incorporate something that is antibacterial and astringent.

A note on alcohol as an ingredient: Many people are afraid of toner because they remember the awful, stripping, alcohol-based toners that we used in the nineties (hello, Stridex pads!) But don't let that scare you away from today's toners. The toners I work with employ special denatured alcohol or SD Alcohol, which is a cosmetic-grade alcohol. It is more sophisticated than rubbing alcohol and is used more as a binding agent to link other molecules together and drive other active ingredients into the skin. You don't need to avoid all alcohol in toners. Look closely at ingredient names. You want Alcohol Denat, SD Alcohol, Cetyl, Stearyl, and Cetearyl Alcohol - these are your "good" alcohols.

Photo courtesy of Native Nectar Botanicals

Toners i {heart} :

Hydrating Toners - Watermelon Mint Mist from Sorella Apothecary, Brighten Toning Mist from Native Nectar Botanicals, Cucumber Hydrating Toner from Skin Script RX

Exfoliating/Balancing Toners - Spiced Wine Toner from Sorella Apothecary, Glycolic & Retinol Pads from Skin Script RX


Do you lover toner as much as I do yet? If not, I hope this blog has at least inspired you to at least consider adding it to your routine. I can't wait to hear how it goes, so do let me know! And be sure to send any follow-up toner questions to jenny @

Until next time,

<3 Jenny

About the blog:

This is a blog about everyday skin health. As an esthetician I strive to provide comprehensive skin care advice and knowledge to anyone who wants to know more.

Read on and please don't hesitate to reach out! I love educating people about their skin and am always happy to respond to questions.

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