A deep dive into the most pro­found beauty ques­tion of our times.

Waikato Times - Your Weekend (Waikato Times) - - Fashion & Beauty -

Most women have used toner at some point. Per­haps you read about it in a mag­a­zine as a teenager, or watched your mum ap­ply one at her dress­ing ta­ble, or were just obe­di­ently ad­her­ing to the in­struc­tions on the back of those three-step beauty packs in the cos­met­ics sec­tion of depart­ment stores.

But ask most women what it does ex­actly, and you’ll find that there are as many an­swers as there are prod­ucts on the mar­ket.

Re­mov­ing makeup residue; bal­anc­ing ph; re­strict­ing the skin’s nat­u­ral oil pro­duc­tion; re­plac­ing the nat­u­ral oils lost in cleans­ing and de­liv­er­ing a po­tent cock­tail of nu­tri­ents, are all com­mon, seem­ingly con­tra­dic­tory rea­sons you’ll hear for em­brac­ing the beauty rou­tine’s puz­zling mid­dle child.

If you’re any­thing like me, you prob­a­bly con­cluded that the an­swer was far sim­pler: toner ex­ists to sell con­sumers an ad­di­tional prod­uct.

As it turns out, there is a rea­son for the myr­iad of ex­pla­na­tions – dif­fer­ent ton­ers are de­signed to do dif­fer­ent things. In fact, of­ten the only thing they have in com­mon is that they go on after cleans­ing and be­fore mois­tur­is­ing.

Here, we break down the toner fam­ily to help find the one that’s right for you.


This is the OG toner and the one you most likely grew up us­ing. It’s de­signed to con­tract the skin’s tis­sue (hence the “pore-refin­ing” claims) and of­ten con­tains anti-bac­te­rial in­gre­di­ents like al­co­hol or witch hazel to treat acne-prone skin.

While this can re­strict se­bum pro­duc­tion in the short term, pro­ceed with cau­tion. Any­thing that strips the skin of too much mois­ture may lead to an ex­cess of oil later.


The skin’s nat­u­ral ph sits at around 5, so most ton­ers aim to re­store the nat­u­ral acid­ity that’s lost when we cleanse our faces.

In ad­di­tion to re­turn­ing mois­ture to the skin, humectants have the added ben­e­fit of prim­ing skin to bet­ter ab­sorb the in­gre­di­ents in your mois­turiser or serum and prep­ping it for smoother makeup ap­pli­ca­tion.

If your skin skews dry, look for ton­ers con­tain­ing low-ph


in­gre­di­ents such as rose water and hyaluronic acid.


Th­ese are the prod­ucts that do ev­ery­thing else, from de­liv­er­ing a con­coc­tion of in­gre­di­ents di­rect to the skin (al­most like a serum) to ex­fo­li­at­ing for­mu­la­tions that leave be­hind a fresher, brighter com­plex­ion.

Anne Fuller­ton

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