Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Let’s Talk About Toners – Again June 12, 2013

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Sometimes it is necessary to revisit subjects I’ve already blogged about in the past once I come upon new and/or relevant information about the subject.  So today we’ll be revisiting the subject of toners (see the links below for my previous posts on the subject).

In my first post about toners I explained (back in February, 2010 but the information still holds true):

When you don’t need a toner:    I don’t think that you need a toner every night in order to make sure that you have removed all your make-up or cleanser.  Using  a good make-up remover and the proper cleanser is definitely more than enough in order to make sure that your make-up is all off (the only place you might feel the need to go over again would be the eye area since waterproof eye make-up can be hard to remove).  If after washing your face you feel that you still have cleanser on your face than switch your cleanser.  A properly formulated facial cleanser will certainly wash off your face easily without leaving residue behind.

The claim that toners will close your pores is a silly claim.  First of all, there is no need to seal your pores shut.  Toners will give you a temporary tightening effect but why do you need that anyhow?

The issue of your skin’s pH level being disrupted because of cleansing is really only a problem if you use soap, which is very alkaline, to wash your face.  If you use a facial wash or cleanser you won’t have to deal with the issue of your skin’s pH being disrupted.

When you could consider using a toner:  There are lots of toners available that can actually hydrate the skin and even leave behind a number of beneficial antioxidants.  These types of toner are good for use during the summer when your skin feels more oily and you don’t feel that you need to moisturize (your skin isn’t actually producing more oil during the summer; it just feels that way because of the increased humidity in the air).   In addition, there are some people who don’t feel the need to use a lot of moisturizer ever so using a toner could be a great way to add some moisture to the skin and get some antioxidant benefits as well.

If you have combination skin (oily T-zone, normal skin everywhere else) you might consider using a toner with witch hazel extract, lactic acid, or salicylic acid just on your T-zone.  But don’t go overboard since too much toner with the above mentioned ingredients can be drying.  Use them on as needed basis and no more than once a day.

Some toners have ingredients that can actually soothe the skin and reduce inflammation so using a product like that if you have sensitive skin might be a good option.

Recently I came across two articles to expand on what I had written above.   The New York Times article Toner, Often Met With A Shrug, Is Having Its Moment explains:

As temperatures climb, our thoughts turn to toner: that post-cleansing, pre-moisturizing, cooling concoction treasured in adolescence (Sea Breeze, Bonne Bell Ten O Six) for its ability to remove facial grime onto a cotton ball. Some insist that even in adulthood, their beauty routine would be incomplete without it. Others think it’s an unnecessary step, scoffing that toner, while often refreshing, doesn’t offer any real benefits to the complexion.

“Before cleansers became so effective, people needed to do what cleansers could not, which is why people gravitated towards toners,” said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of the cosmetic and clinical research department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical. “But formulation and technology has helped the cleanser evolve to the point that they’re so good, you don’t need the toner.”  …

They may not be the BB cream of tomorrow, but “toners have a bad rap,” said Dr. Paul Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist and the founder of the Fifth Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center. “They used to be associated with pimply skin and were alcohol-based or made to control the production of oil while rebalancing the skin’s pH levels,” he said. “Like anything else, they’ve dramatically changed. They’re now used as a second stage of cleansing, and treat a variety of issues. They can exfoliate, reduce redness, fight aging and brighten the skin.”

Besides preparing the skin to receive the benefits of products applied after, he said, they can soften and smooth the skin, and serve as a delivery system for antioxidants, vitamin B derivatives, retinoid and even glycolic acid.

And Allure explains just how to use a toner properly in Do You Really Need A Toner?:

When should we use them? “As the weather warms up, even combination skin tends to break out, so toners with salicylic acid can be really helpful for gently unclogging your pores and preventing summer breakouts. They are even great in the winter, when the ambient air is dry,” says [Erin] Gilbert [a New York City dermatologist]. “I like to recommend toning while traveling,” says Harper. “The air in-flight is so drying, and a toner will cleanse, hydrate, and leave you feeling refreshed.”

Can a toner be hydrating enough to replace your daily moisturizer? “They are not exactly a replacement,” says Harper. “I tell my patients with extremely oily skin that they can sometimes get away with skipping a moisturizer in the summertime if they use a toner instead,” adds Gilbert. “A toner can be hydrating enough, but don’t forget sunscreen.”

Recently I rediscovered my toner since my skin was feeling very dehydrated.  Now after cleansing I apply Epionce Balancing Toner to my face with a cotton pad (I hate spritzing my face with toner though that is an option.  I always seem to get toner in my eyes and mouth when I spritz – yuck).  In the morning I apply my Vitamin C serum (currently I am using Tecniche SupremeC Serum) afterwards and in the evening I apply my exfoliating serum after the toner while my skin is still a little damp.  I definitely feel that my skin is better hydrated since I added that step to my skincare routine.

Do you use a toner?  Is this a must step in your skincare routine?  Share your thoughts below!

My Previous Posts:

Products to Consider Trying:

Image from Epionce.com

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One Response to “Let’s Talk About Toners – Again”

  1. jill Says:

    I like to use Witch hazel as a toner and get my antioxidants from a nice serum afterwards.


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