Skin Care Routine

Toner is compulsory? True or False?

What does face toner do?

There are other names of toner that you should aware of: skin freshener, balancer, lotion, pre- lotion, emulsion, tonic, astringent. If you did read my blog about skincare routine steps for beginners, you would realize that I have not mentioned anything about toner. You may think I forgot about this, don’t you? No, no, how can I forget about this stuff. But I would say that using a toner is not really necessary for your skin. I know it sounds weird, while everyone using toner, a standard Korean skincare routine must have 7 different steps of toner. So, how can this weird guy say toner is not necessary? Following me through this post, I would elaborate an answer to the question: Does your skin really need a toner? Does skin toner really do great work as a holy water, which can cure skin’s problems?

face tonerUnderstanding toner: the history

Back then in the 1970s, when people still using soap to wash their face, after cleansing, their face will tend to be so basic, over- dry irritated so they need a thing that can normalize their skin pH, provide instant humid to the skin, and that is toner. But in our modern area, that is not an issue anymore, soap has been evolved, become to our friendly friend cleansers, more gentle and pH is around 5.5 to 6.5, so it is companionable to minimize the disruption of harsh washing.

Skin toner helps minimize your pore?

Nope. Our pore is not working like a muscle. It can not open or close in day 1 day 2. Our pore will minimize itself when it is cleaned and treated well. Using a toner is one among many solutions.

Does toner balance your skin pH?

The term pH refers to “potential of hydrogen”. It gives information about whether the solution is acidic or basic. pH scale is run from 0 to 14, the higher the pH is, the more basic the solution. In skincare, pH is critically important, if our skin surface has pH too low, it would likely to be irritating and if pH is too high, our skin would be dry. Ideally, pH for our skin is from 4.5 – 5.5, which is slightly acidic, I live in Australia, at here tap water has pH varies from 6.5 to 8.5, that does not even include the pH of cleansing products, that’s why after washing your face, you may feel your skin is really cracked down, have you ever try to smile after cleansing your face? I have, it feels like your mouth muscle is betraying you.

So, the answer is yes, but also no. Normally, toner is used at the last step of your washing process as it helps removes excess oils and dead skin cell that may lurk on your skin. There is “myth” about the toner is that toner neutralize your skin pH level. This is not true. Our skin is proved to be waterproof, and pH just matters in the aqueous solution, our skin is not a solution, so it does not have pH. Toner balance the pH of our biological system, sebum, natural oil on our skin surface, it removes excess oil, contaminants that still left on our skin after cleansing. So, basically, toner does not affect your skin structure, everything still going fine without it. In case you want to add to your routine, you surely have to understand what is that toner contains, what are you apply on your skin.

In the next section, I will walk you through the process of choosing toner that suits your skin.

Choosing toners in this mass market.

From my experience, I realize that there are 3 main types of toner:

1. Moisturizing toner

This toner contains Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin B5, Glycerin, Plant Extract… This toner instantly moisturize your skin, make skin softer, smoother.

2. Acidic toner

This type of toner usually has a small concentration of BHA, AHA, PHA, LHA,… This toner can do anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial on skin, help your skin get used to with acid treatment. These toners suit for who is looking for a low acid concentration treatment. You don’t want your skin to be irritated with acid, let it be “warm-up” with this first.

3. Calming toner

These toners have Niacinamide, Centella, Witch Hazel, … means these can calm your skin, restore the skin barrier. Generally, your skin barrier is strong, the less likely it will be irritated by Vitamin C or Acids that you apply on the next steps.

Cautions: When choosing toners, please choose free- alcohol-based toner, means it don’t have denatured alcohol, such as alcohol, alcohol denat, SD alcohol, ethanol, alcohol isopropyl, … these are some widely used alcohol in skin care products. These low molecular weight alcohol are liquids that evaporate very quickly, bring water outside from your skin, and when your skin is dry, it’s open to irritated and inflamed. There are a lot of toner now contain this unhealthy alcohol. But this is not mean alcohol is bad for your skin, I will clearly discuss this in some posts soon.

Your skin may not need toner.

I feel like toner is like an additional step to your routine, it is not really a game-changer. Regarding moisturising character, you can replace it by a moisturizer and some serums do also have this service. About acid toner, yes it’s true that it contains a low concentration acid, but there are some tips for you to use acid without irritation (I promise I will share it soon, trust me ????). Calming toner is good, but they’re also a better moisturizer out there also have these ingredients, money-saving. But like I said, feel free to try it, because skin care depends on your feelings, some you may feel suit for your skin, keep using it.

applying tonerHow do I use toner?

I don’t use toner in the evening, cause after cleansing, I will apply a layer of acid that also have a moisturizing agent. Usually, I will use toner in the morning, after cleansing my face with lukewarm water, as this time your face is bared and I don’t want to apply heavy layers of ingredients in the morning. Toner, moisturizer, sunscreen, that’s it for me. I also used toner in the afternoon, after coming home from school or work, you wash away your make up and then you can apply toner to your skin, then enjoy your dinner and start again your routine in the evening. I find this really works for my skin cause this allow my skin to have a spare time to breath and relax but still also moisturized.


I think this is enough for you guys to choose and use toner correctly. Overall, toner is an optional step, you probably can skip this and pay attention to treatment and sunscreen products. Unless you want a routine with all the steps, as I say, skin care is actually so indulgent, in that case, feel free to carry on!! So, what do you think?

Thank you for reading my post! As usual, if you have any question, please leave a comment below or you can send to my email, I would be more than happy to figure out the problem with you guys.




  • Lisa

    This made very interesting reading, I was not really aware what a toners purpose was. This explains it perfectly. I use a good ph balanced soap so I don’t need to use a toner, this is good to know.
    Thank you for sharing this need to know information I’m sure people will learn a lot as I have

  • Cynthia

    When I was younger (decades ago), skin toner such as witch hazel were big skin care items. I had not considered that the improvements of cleansers and moisturizers had made toner less important but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jeff

    Being I am very serious about my health and health products I find this very interesting, and I notice more women seem to use skincare products than men. I was just wondering do you think this is true with this face toner skin care product, so being a guy would this benefit me as well as women?


    • Stephen

      yes, of course, Jeff, everyone does need a skin care routine basically, genders doesn’t really matter here. But you may find some ingredients may work well with others but would irritate your skin, so hmmm, it’s hard to answer that whether face toner superiorly effects on one’s skin, I can only say that, if you know what your skin needs and what you are applying on your face, it definitely beneficial for you, of course, not for your wallet😁.

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