Skin Toner: Do You Really Need It?

Serenity Calming Facial Toner, from Radium Skin, with Lavender and Chamomile to soother skin

Very often, I get asked if we need to include a toner in our skin-care regime. Yet conventional wisdom always tells us: Cleanse, Tone, Moisturize.

What does this extra step do for your skin?

What Makes a Toner?

A toner is a solution used on the skin, designed to cleanse the skin. It is often used after a make-up remover and facial cleanser.

The main function of toners is to cleanse off the remaining traces of dirt and make-up which prior cleansing may have failed to remove.

Depending on the type of toner, they can contain humectants to seal in moisture, alcohol to cleanse the skin, or essential oils and extracts to soothe the skin. Other active ingredients can also be added to the toner to better treat your skin problems.

Toners also help to restore the natural pH of your skin after cleansing, preparing it to absorb other skin-care products.

Types of Toner 

There are many different types of toners, some helping with acne, some for sensitive skin, etc etc.

However, to me, the most important classification is whether they contain alcohol, or not.

Toners which contain alcohol are commonly called Astringents. These are harsher on the skin, and in my opinion best avoided unless you have really oily skin, or bad acne. The alcohol cleanses the dirt, but also dries up your skin big time. It is probably a better idea to only use an Astringent to treat problem spots on your face, and the most oily areas such as your T-zone.

Remember that Astringents will exacerbate the dryness caused by commonly used anti-acne products (such as Retinoids), and may even make your acne worse.

Non-alcohol containing toners are generally known as Skin Fresheners. These usually contain a humectant such as glycerin to attract water into the epidermis and keep it hydrated. All our toners, for example belong to this category, as we believe that toners should be gentle on the skin.

What a Toner DOES NOT do 

The biggest myth about toners is that they close pores. This is absolutely untrue, as pores are not like doors which can be opened or closed easily!

What they MAY do, is make the pores appear less visible, by virtue of its water drawing properties. However, I could get the same (or better) effect by simply using a moisturizer.

Do I Need It? 

That really depends.

If you use alot of make-up, it will be better to use a toner to mop up any residue. Otherwise, many people, especially men, are just too lazy to add an extra step to their skin-care regime. For the less motivated, I usually advise them to forego toning, but make sure that they stick to the rest of their skin-care regime religiously instead.

Toning is definitely a good step to include in the skin-care regime – it allows you to prepare your skin for other treatment products, and also leaves you feeling fresher. But it is not as important as the other steps such as treatment serums and sunblock.

Choose a toner suitable for your skin. If you have acne prone skin, one containing anti-acne ingredients such as Sloane Inc Calendula Toner will be very helpful; if you have sensitive skin, look for one which contains less fragrances and soothing ingredients such as Aloe Vera Extract.



  1. This toner is a great step to add to your skincare routine to maintain clear and healthy skin. It can be helpful to restore skin’s balance. I like this article so much. Thanks for sharing.