From the Beauty Closet

A Lesson in Toner

9 years ago by

Over the weekend I went to get a facial…

In my head I was imagining this hour of total blissful pampering, where I would fall into a wonderful relaxation nap and wake up glowing like Gisele. However I’m just way too chatty and spent my hour asking my facialist, Suzanne, just about every skin related question I could. “Oh hey, what’s that tool your using? Can I open my eyes and look at it? Oh cool, so tell me exactly how microdermabrasion works again? Wait, diamonds? Oh that smells good, what is that? And how do you use it? How often should I be doing a mask?” I learned a lot about my skin.

Right now it’s slightly out of balance. Suzanne said it’s probably because I’m trying out a lot of new products (YOU’RE WELCOME) and suggested I create a routine for myself so my skin doesn’t totally hate me in 5 years. Anyway, I took home a few pearls of wisdom that I couldn’t just keep to myself… the most important being the benefits of toner.

Toner? Say what?!

Despite my 27 product skincare routine of randomness, I haven’t been using a toner. Suzanne put it best when she said “Toner has a bad rap. People associate it with alcohol and stripping the skin.” Thats definitely true for me. I still associate toner with that bright blue drugstore astringent that made my pre-teen face burn and sting like crazy. Today many toners are alcohol-free, which means it doesn’t dry out your skin (or sting!) and can actually be moisturizing. (those with oily skin can reach for an astringent, which often includes alcohol and will reduce oil). Mind blown, right?

Use it after you cleanse. The toner will help to take away any residue left behind and prep the skin for you to put on a serum or moisturizer (I love a good serum, so I was like “How did I never prep my skin properly for my serum before?!”).

I’ve now seen the light thanks to Suzanne…and my inability to fully relax…

Are you a toner user?


Add yours
  • Un jour, dans une parfumerie, l’esthéticienne m’a demandé si j’utilisais bien tous les jours ma lotion tonique. J’ai bien dû lui avoué que je n’en avais pas… devant son regard réprobateur, j’ai bien compris que je commettais là une graaaaannnndddde faute. Depuis, j’utilise ma lotion matin et soir (hm, hm enfin presque) avant d’appliquer ma crème hydratante. Non seulement, cela termine de nettoyer la peau, mais en plus, elle me laisse un belle sensation de fraicheur!

    Merci Suzanne de nous rappeller les bonnes règles de conduite esthétique :-)

  • i like kiehl but i love aesop :)

  • hi Alex i love a toner especially with a lovely fragrance …Shiseido revitalizing essence it’s as old as the company and comes in the most exotic bottle…I bought DHC cleansing oil…they gave me a sample of Emo oil…looks like a ostrich…also from Australia…it’s incredible…sold on line and good for an abundance of uses not expensive


  • Ah ben moi c’est tout le contraire. J’en ai toujours utilisé, je considérais cela comme essentiel puis un jour je suis allée voir une dermato et je lui ai dit de me conseiller. Elle m’a donné une lotion nettoyante et m’a dit que c’était suffisant, que les lotions toniques c’était pour les grands-mères! Je reste sceptique…

  • My favorite toner (and also cheapest) is Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner. There is no alcohol and artificial fragrance. It also contains aloe vera.

  • I use witch hazel too! But it’s Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel. It smells kind of like fermented salad dressing in my opinion. Perhaps I’ll try Thayer’s next.

  • je n’en ai jamais utilisé, c’est grave…?

  • I’ve never used toner. It always made my skin feel so dry!
    I may just have to give another go and see how it goes!

  • je me deteste toujours apres un soin! ma peau est claire avec des rougeurs ca ne me convient pas du tout en faite
    en revanche je vais acheter le pac mascara dont tu parlais la derniere fois et les vernis marc jac aussi! des bisous

  • Try this, it’s amazing. its handmade by a small business and it works really well. my skin loves it – Aloe is the secret !!

    this also may be the best sea salt spray ever

  • My favourite toner is by Avene – simply called the ‘gentle toner’ – very hydrating and just… Its love. Vichy purete thermale (the pink one) is amazing too, although the blue version is for oily skin.

    You should really check out Caroline Hirons blog, she’s amazing. It’s called Beauty Mouth. :)

  • I suggested she check out Caroline as well. Love her, and her advice has worked for me.

  • Love your beauty posts!

    I can’t handle more than 2 things on my face so toner is out (moisture and foundation are in!)

    Keep the info coming!


  • Check out Caroline Hirons cheat sheet and video with Pixiwoo on Body Talk
    She suggest some of the best toners. She gives great skincare advice

  • I’m SUCH a fan of toners and I’m so glad you’ve been turned onto them! Not the biggest fan of Kiehl’s though – they test on animals. The toner that changed my life was Yuli skincare’s Panacea Elixir. Changed. My. Life.

  • At a young age, I was always obsessed with toner…plainly because I could see all the dirt on my face transferred to a piece of cotton pad! Truly mind blowing. Still use it, of course!
    Your Friend, Jess

  • Yes! Glycolic exfoliating cleanser!! Love your blog and this is my first comment! Woo!

  • I came out of a similar “Sea Breeze” battle and went years without a proper toner, but Shiseido’s EUDERMINE Revitalizing Essence changed all that. Love its peony scent and its magical dual power of smoothing your pores while lifting any remaining grime. Cannot live without it!

  • Toner is awesome! It can totally help the PH of your skin! I used to use Darphin toner (which I still love). However, a month ago I did an experiment for my blog post, and now I use apple cider vinegar as a toner! I love it and it’s cheap!
    Read more here:

    a href=””>Hilary x

  • Toner is so great! It can help balance the PH of your skin. I used to use Darphin toner and I still love it. But a month ago I did an experiment and now I use apple cider vinegar for my toner!

    Read more here:

    a href=””>Hilary x thehealthycollective.comt

  • i use my own pure rosewater..definitely no stripping of the skin feels soft, calm and nourished..

  • pink dessert August, 30 2013, 4:34 / Reply

    Ah la lotion tonique. J’ai commencé ç l’utiliser il y a 5 ans et aujourd’hui je peux plus m’en passer.
    J’utilise principalement des eaux florales c’est doux ça sent très bon et ça laisse la peau niquel ;)

  • Merci pour cet article :)


  • I definitely definitely use a toner, loads of it!!! With the right kind my skin feels completely hydrated, then I use my eye cream, serum and moisturiser.

  • Il me faut aussi un toner je savais que ça faisait cette sensation mais en fait ce n’est pas pour ça que je ne l’utilise pas en fait jaime bien cette sensation tout en sachant que j’ai la peau grasse. J’oublie tout simplement d’en acheter c’est aussi simple que ça. Et elles ne sont pas dispendieuses du tout en plus. :)

  • Ma lotion tonique, c’est un spray d’eau thermale, qui enlève les restes de démaquillant et d’huile. Je laisse sécher et ensuite j’applique mon soin.

  • I absolutely agree with Suzanne. I’ve been using toner+serum for this couple weeks and I can feel my skin is more glowing :)

  • EMERAUDE August, 30 2013, 9:19 / Reply

    Pas besoin d’être “esthéticienne” pour savoir que la “lotion tonique”, est indispensable non ?

  • i have always been using Clinique toner #3 (with alcohol). it thoroughly cleanses my skin and i totally love it :)

  • Je prends une eau florale ROSE ou FLEURS D’ORANGERS chez Melvitta, très douce après un lait démaquillant bio Melvitta ou autre.
    Je ne pourrais pas m’en passer – c’est également très agréable le matin pour se nettoyer-réveiller et cela évite le calcaire de l’eau du robinet. Et cela sent si bon.

  • Stéphanie August, 30 2013, 10:48 / Reply

    moi, comme tonique, j’utilise l’eau de rose de la section multiculturelle de l’épicerie. En m’assurant que c’est bien que de l’eau de rose, pas mille ajouts chimiques!

  • I LOVE toner. I’m very bad with keeping up with my skin care routine and while I hate applying moisturizer I love applying toner and I use Mario Badescu cucumber cleansing lotion, it has witch hazel and is slightly moisturizing (and I love kiehl’s so i might have to try theirs) so I feel a bit better about usually skipping out on my moisturizer. I really need to get a bit more strict with my moisturizer.

  • hey alex! the same revelation happened to me last month…walking thru the clarins aisles, the sweetest girl sat me down to give me a mini-facial, and was shocked to learn i never used a toner. she explained that toner was to face wash as conditioner is to shampoo…. !!!!!! NO ONE had ever made that distinction, and it has since transformed my skin.

    Try Clarins Toning Lotion with Chamomile if you’re ever unhappy with your current product. Rose water is also supposed to be excellent

  • Alors si j’ai bien compris, c’est fini le temps où vous suiviez les conseils de votre dermato parisienne qui préconisait le jamais d’eau ni de coton, masques, gommages et une simple crème hydratante….??
    Finalement, vous en pensez quoi? merci ;-)

  • Anyone tried Muji?

  • I tried them. They have 2 different toners. Both are very good. The green bottle (organic) was more moisturizer than the clear bottle.

  • I dont usually use a toner, tried some as a teenager, but my best ever toner is from Clarins, the Iris toner….it feels and smels like being in a Spa…..!Every product from Clarins feels and smels like that, they use esential oils, and many herbs……

  • Yes, the Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner is great, worked wonders for my skin!

  • Yes! Absolutely, 2 times every day. I am 36 years old and thanks to my mother I have been using toner since I was 15. Now I can’t imagine I could not use it after my face washing.

  • I used different toners through the years (from very expensive to drugstore brands) , but found out that rose water is the best solution for every skin (including oily). It removes every possibly dirt or make up remaining and at the same time hydrate skin unbelievable. In Europe, you can found rose water in every pharmacy or drugstore, I don’t know about US.

  • moi je préfère aller voir un bon dermato: chaque peau a des besoins différents, rien ne vaut le conseil sur mesure d’un spécialiste. Si les toniques marchaient aussi bien, nos mères ne les auraient pas remisés à la cave…

  • I use toner every morning. After cleaning my face and just before moisturizing. All products: Clarins. I use them since I was 24 years old and I think I have a quite decent skin.
    I can’t relax during facials nor during massages. I totally understand you. ;)

  • Have you heard of a niche line called YULI? They have these pure flower water elixirs that you spray on and they’re magical. Just divine.

  • I was also trying-every-new-product person and my skin was ugly. It got better during pregnancy. And then I promised myself not to try every cream or cleanser I meet in a drugstore. I am now in 6 months periods with cosmetics – I use something for 6 months and when it is good, I continue. When it is bad, I try something else for another 6 months. I talked to my cosmetic lady and she said it is enough time for a sking to get used to the new products and for me to see the results (wrinkles, etc.).

  • solange bernardi August, 31 2013, 5:04 / Reply

    i’m trying to be a toner user…
    …from Neutrogena…Alcohol- free toner…perfect cost/benefit…


  • I have always taken care of my skin but like you I never used toner. I was not sure what it was for or if it was bad or good. I always just wash and moisturize but I will buy some now for sure. By the way you should try a Japanese facial they are the best.

  • ROSE WATER. I have used so many different toners, spent a lot of money and nothing has worked as well as rose water. I buy bottles of rose water from the grocery store. I like using the grocery store brands instead of the cosmetic or pharmacy options because they are often more natural and have no additives (plus they usually cost under $2, which is a bonus).
    Rose water has light astringent properties but is not so powerful to harm your skin. I have sensitive skin and most toners either make my skin dry out or cause a reaction. Rose water is all natural and has never harmed my skin. It also makes you smell like roses which is lovely :)

  • You need to know what your skin needs before choosing a toner, some skin type does not need one.

    I am dehydrated with oily t-zone and prone to breakouts. Shiseido does a very good hydrating/exfoliating toner, it’s so underrated but this is my skin saviour – It’s called The Skincare Hydro Nourishing Softener. I swear by this, read it here:

    Anything else with glycolic acid will make my dehydrated/acene prone skin be out of balance and break out even more.

  • I was naughty and uneducated and using witch hazel all over my face, even around my eyes! After i discovered fine lines around my eyes and started freaking out (only in my early 20’s!) I did some researching and asked a few friends from the pharmacy i started working at. They said drop the witch hazel altogether, but i say just dont use around the eyes.

  • I think toner is actually my favourite part of the cleanse-tone-moisturise process! It has such a freshening feeling to it. Garneir do a nice one, and I’m using Simple at the moment.

  • I have a sensitive+dry+dehydrated skin. I have been using Darphine Intral toner (pink-lovely smell-alcohol free-calming-PERFECT:)
    To those who don’t use toner: “You won’t believe how much dirt there is on your face even you use the best cleanser-foam or milk or cream whatever.”
    Toner just makes the cleansing process complete.

  • Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner is amazing. It smells lovely and it moisturizes really nicely. It also lasts forever!

  • Most definitely a toner user. I’ve always used them since I was in high school but after trying so many different ones, I settled on using Japanese stuff. :)

  • Hi Alex! I’m definitely a toner user. I use it at night after washing my face (especially on humid nights) and also in the morning in place of water. I have to say my skin is pretty balanced most of the time. I also love buying toners – I don’t know why, I just think they are fun. My dream toner that I would love to try is the Peach Moon Water by Chidorya – but right now I just use the Alba hibiscus one.

  • I’ve been using different tonners since I was a teenager, I’ve always been a fan of them. They regulate ph of the skin. Now, the same as Sophie I love VICHY the pink one for dry skin <3

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