How To Use Toners To Get Clear Skin-Best Toners For Oily, Dry, And Sensitive Skin

how to use toners for clear skin

Today I will talk all about toning, and do we need it? Because products like toners range from like $5 to $250 bottles, so is it worth it? So let’s discuss what toners are? How to probably use them? What is the difference between toners, micellar water, cleansing water, and essence? Because they’re all completely different things, but they all look like water. And the last thing which is what the best toner for your skin type is?

What Are Toners?

what are toners for face

So toners, what exactly are toners, back-in-the-day toners are called skin tonics, and they were just that tonics for your skin. The first tonic water came out around the 1900s, about the same time as Eau de Cologne. It was made to soothe the nerves and to take the fatigue out of the muscles. 

Many formulations are simple mixtures of perfume, water-alcohol, and borax, and you can find borax nowadays in many cleaning products. You can also use it in homemade laundry detergent.

So that was toners back in the day, luckily we’re fast-forwarding to the present day, and there are no longer laundry detergent particles in our toners.

They’re also newly formulated to target all of our skincare concerns, be it exfoliating, cleansing, hydrating, brightening, or all of the above.

So the basic science of toner is that it gives your skin a quick hit of intense hydration and takes off the surface layer of dead skin cells, and makes it nice and fresh and glowy.

You can think of it like a sponge, so if you pour water on a dry sponge, water just kind of sits on top of the sponge, but if you soak the sponge in water, and then you add more water into it absorbs right away, so that’s exactly like how toners work and your skin works.

The three main benefits you can think of for toners is that. 

  • It shrinks the appearance of pores.
  • It takes away the impurities left on your skin or even dead skin that clogs pores to produce breakouts.
  • Most importantly, it restores the pH balance.

Let’s move on to what pH is, what it means, what it does, and why it is essential.

What Is PH?

PH stands for the potential of hydrogen. The pH scale ranges from 0, acidic, to 14, alkaline, and our skin sits a little more towards acidic or between 4.5 to 5.5.

ph of skin

And after you wash your face, it fluctuates, so toner brings it back to the neutral state.

Why Is PH Important?

For your skin barriers to work correctly, you need to make sure the pH is balanced because if it’s too acidic, it gets too inflamed and red, and if it’s too alkaline, it gets too dry and dehydrated.

This is important because our skin barrier is responsible for keeping in lipids natural oils and moisture while blocking germs, bacteria, toxins pollutants, and all the negative things that cause breakouts.

Importance Of Toners

So if your skin isn’t properly protected with the right level of moisture with the right level of acidity, then it can’t do its job. 

That’s why all you need to know is that’s what toner is for; it’s coming in to restore the skin’s pH balance so it can fend off bacteria and everything nasty in the world.

And also, to help the products in the future that you’re going to apply, it absorbs better.

How To Apply Toners?

how to apply toners to face

There are two avenues that consensus either goes down; you either use a cotton pad or use your hands.

Use Of Toner With Cotton Pad

I usually like putting it between my fingers, two for the cotton pads, and then swipe outward and upward.

Use Of Toner With Hands

Then there’s the second way: just put toner on your palm and then pat it in.

I love the feeling of going pat pat pat because it is very hydrating and very calming.

And I feel like no product goes to waste; I feel like, with cotton pads, it just gets soaked on the pad.

If you’re using toner as a way to cleanse, as a second or third step of cleansing, because sometimes we need that, it will help remove all the impurities. 

If you’re using your hand, it won’t do that as much or as well.

Double Toning

You’ll first use cotton pads for double toning, and then you shall use the hands for toning; I like doing both too.

Maybe if you’re coming out of the shower, you do that because you’re already clean, but if you’re washing your face, get rid of all the residue; you do the cotton pad.

Difference Between Toners, Micellar Water, Cleansing Water & Essence

difference between toners and essence

Next, let’s talk about the difference between toners, micellar waters, cleansing water, and essence.

Cleansing Water

Cleansing water which is purified water, is usually infused with other things such as essential oils, plant extracts, collagen, and minerals.

It’s the best use as a light refresh in the morning and throughout the day.

So you can think of toner as the parent family, and then underneath that tree, those things like beauty water.

Son&Park Beauty Water

This specific one from Son & Park is called beauty water, and it’s a toner and cleansing water.

There are willow bark and papaya extract suitable for, like I mentioned earlier, brightening the skin, naturally occurring acid!

Micellar Water

Another one you might get toner confused with is micellar water, but there’s a huge difference here.

Micellar water is just for cleansing your face; it’s not for nourishing.

And micellar water has micelles that draw oil and draws water away from your skin, which is entirely the opposite of what toner should do.

So don’t get those confused; these aren’t toners; they’re stripping away your oils, they’re good at removing makeup too – toner on the other hand.


The confusing thing when it comes to the essence that’s a whole other thing.

But you have an essence that’s goopier more towards the serum side, and then you have essences that a more tonery, so maybe sometimes look at its consistency.

It goes back to like simply speaking, the more watery you should apply it first, and then the thicker it is, the later on in the skincare routine.

Toner For Your Skin Type

Next, I will recommend you guys, depending on what different type of skin type you have! Which is the best toner to kind of match up with those areas and those problems.

So be a dry skin oily skin combination skin dull skin big pores, yeah all of the above.

Best Toners For Large Open Pores

best toners for open pores

So if you have large pores, you want to look for toners with AHAs or Alpha hydroxy acid to reduce the pores’ size and appearance.

Best toners for open pores are following.

REN Clean Skincare Glow Tonic

First is the Ren Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, and it works wonders.

KRAVE Beauty Kale Lalu Yaha

The other is Kale-Lalu-Yaha which has AHA and also hyaluronic acid. Its hyaluronic acid is suitable for replenishing hydration as well.

So if you have big pores try AHAs, because they’re a gentle chemical exfoliant. But also there’s the Pixi Glow Tonic which you can get at Target. 

THAYER’S Alcohol-Free Original Witch Hazel Facial Toner

Also, I found one that was popular on amazon with ten thousand reviews was the witch hazel by Thayers, and then you will find this in every single category because apparently, it’s that good. And witch hazel is good for inflammation as well.

Toners For Dull Skin

Best Toner For Dull Skin

If you have dull skin, toners with natural exfoliants like papaya and lactic acid are great for brightening the skin.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10%

The first toner for dull skin in my recommended list is ordinary lactic acid ten percent with hyaluronic acid two percent.

If you’re getting into AHAs, a gentle one to use, it’s useful for improving texture brightening color.

Best Toners For Oily Skin

Best Toners For Oily Skin

For those of you with acne-prone or oily skin like me, unfortunately, you want to look for toners once again that will help break down kind of the oils in your pores.

So go to things like AHA, BHA, salicylic acid, lactic acid because this will then sink into your pores and break down the bacteria, causing inflammation and stuff like that.

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Toner

My favorite three are one from Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Toner, and that one specifically got 2% salicylic acid.

Every time I feel like I’m breaking out, I just like splash that all over the face.

Natural Pacific Fresh Herb Calendula Tincture Toner

Otherwise, there’s the Fresh Herb Calendula Tincture Toner; it’s like eighteen dollars.

It is:

  • Good at inflammation
  • Calms
  • Improves elasticity
  • Balances
  • Soothes 

Many of these toners crossover between different skincare concerns, actually toners, I feel like are the most overall types.

Like most fluid, yeah, so what someone uses on her dry, flaky skin, you can also use for your oily acne-prone skin.

Best Toners For Dry Skin

best toners for dry skin

 If you have dry skin, make sure you avoid products that have alcohol because they’ll further dry out your skin.

And ingredients to look out for that are suitable for the skin are glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which will help you replenish and keep in and retain all that moisture; lock that in.

So all of the toners that I’m going to recommend are incredibly hydrating. 

Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Deep Hydration Toner

The first one is my favorite one of all time, and it’s deeply hydrating, as it says.

There are rose petals, rose water, and rose flower oil, beautiful to look at and beautiful for the skin! 

There’s also sodium hyaluronic in this product, which is much smaller in molecular size than hyaluronic acid, making it hydrating.

Other hydrating toners include the Thayer’s witch hazel one I mentioned before, and also the Kiehl’s ultra facial toner, and then also the Calendula Tincture Toner.

Best Toners For Sensitive Skin

best toners for sensitive skin

So if you have sensitive skin, you can use all of the above suggestions I mentioned because toner applies to all. Still, you can look specifically towards plant-based ingredients like chamomile or aloe vera, which are known for calming and soothing irritation redness and inflammation.

I recommend the following two toners for sensitive skin.

  1. Laneige Fresh Calming Toner 
  2. Clarins Toning Lotion with Camomile.

Toners For Combination Skin

And if you have combination skin in theory, it sounds pretty tricky because half of your face is oily, and the other half is dried. You may not know what to do; you have to put different toners in different areas.

Well, the answer is you can use most of the products I mentioned earlier. 

The most important thing if you have combination skin is rebalancing the pH level and just rebalancing in general; it’s like t-zone oily dry and flaky on the outside.


So that was a pretty in-depth exploration into the toning of the skin. Still, I think toner at the end of the day is essential in the skincare routine because of that rebalancing so that your moisturizers and serums can sink deeper into the layers of skin.

So while toners are essential in your skincare routine, how much you spend on them depends on personal preference, like your skincare concerns.

It comes down to brands, whether you’re like ride or die for a type of brand. It just generally works for your skin, then stick to that. Still, toners are one thing that generally doesn’t the same anything if you buy low end or higher end.

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