what does face toner do & Do you really need it?

When it comes to skincare, there are a plethora of products out there promising to work wonders for your complexion. One such item is face toner. But what does face toner do? This is a common question that arises in the world of skincare, and rightly so. Face toners have been a staple in skincare routines for years, but their exact role and benefits may not always be clear. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the mysteries of face toners and explore the vital role they play in maintaining healthy, radiant skin. 

What is Face Toner?

Face toner is a liquid solution that is applied to the skin after cleansing but before moisturizing. It is designed to balance the skin’s pH level, remove any remaining traces of dirt and makeup, and prepare the skin for the next steps in your skincare routine. Toners can come in a variety of formulas, including those with alcohol, witch hazel, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid.

what does face toner do for your skin?

Removing impurities

Toners can help to remove any remaining dirt, oil, and makeup that may not have been removed by cleansing alone. This is especially important for people with oily or acne-prone skin.

Balancing the skin’s pH

The skin’s natural pH is slightly acidic, but cleansing can disrupt this balance. Toners can help to restore the skin’s pH to its natural level, which is important for maintaining healthy skin barrier function.

Prepping the skin for other skincare products

Toners can help to increase the absorption of other skincare products, such as serums and moisturizers. This is because toners can help to loosen dead skin cells and clear the way for other products to penetrate the skin more deeply.

How to Use Face Toner

Using face toner is a simple but essential step in your skincare routine. After cleansing your face, apply a small amount of toner onto a cotton pad or into your clean hands. Gently sweep it across your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Allow it to air dry or pat it lightly with your fingers. Follow up with your favorite serums and moisturizer while your skin is still slightly damp to lock in the benefits. Depending on your skin type and concerns, you can use toner both morning and night, ensuring that it’s a valuable step in maintaining balanced, refreshed, and well-prepped skin.

Is toner necessary?

You do not need to use toner. Most people can achieve the benefits of a toner through other skincare products, such as cleansers and moisturizers. For example, most cleansers are now pH-balanced, so there is no need to use a toner to restore the skin’s pH. Additionally, many moisturizers now contain ingredients that can help to exfoliate the skin and prep it for other skincare products.

However, toners can be a beneficial addition to a skincare routine for some people. If you are considering using a toner, it is important to choose one that is right for your skin type and concerns. According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, dermatologist in New York City “If you have sensitive skin, look for a toner that is alcohol-free and fragrance-free. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, look for a toner that contains ingredients such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid. If you have dry skin, look for a toner that contains hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin”.

Toner vs. essence


Toner primarily focuses on balancing the skin’s pH levels, removing any remaining traces of impurities after cleansing, and preparing the skin to absorb subsequent skincare products.

Essence is a more concentrated treatment product designed to provide targeted benefits like hydration, brightening, or anti-aging. It contains active ingredients that penetrate deeper into the skin to address specific concerns and provide long-term results.

Texture and Consistency

Toner typically has a watery and lightweight consistency. It is applied immediately after cleansing and is absorbed quickly into the skin.

Essence has a slightly thicker consistency compared to toner, often described as a “fluid.” It’s designed to be applied after toner and can be a bit more viscous, allowing for better absorption of active ingredients.


Toner primarily focuses on maintaining skin balance and ensuring proper hydration. It helps remove any last traces of impurities, soothes the skin, and can have gentle exfoliating properties in some cases.

Essence is more targeted and can offer a wide range of benefits depending on its formulation. It may provide intense hydration, improve skin texture, brighten the complexion, or target specific skin concerns like fine lines and wrinkles.


  1. What is the best time to use face toner? Toner should be used after cleansing and before moisturizing to properly prepare the skin for the next steps in your routine.
  2. Can toner replace cleansing? No, toner cannot replace cleansing. Cleansing is crucial for removing dirt, makeup, and other impurities from the skin, while toner helps to remove any remaining traces and balance the skin’s pH level.
  3. Do I need to use toner if I have dry skin? While toner can be beneficial for all skin types, those with dry or sensitive skin may want to opt for a gentler formula or skip toner altogether to avoid over-drying the skin.
  4. How often should I use toner? This can vary depending on your skin type and concerns, but most people can benefit from using toner once or twice daily.
  5. Can toner help with acne? Yes, certain toners containing active ingredients such as salicylic acid or tea tree oil can help to address acne-prone skin.

Final Takeaway

Face toner can be a beneficial addition to your skincare routine, but it’s important to choose the right formula for your skin type and use it correctly. By balancing your skin’s pH level and removing any remaining traces of dirt or makeup, toner can help to prepare your skin for better absorption of serums and moisturizers. Remember to read labels carefully and patch test new products before incorporating them into your routine.