CTMP - Cleansing, Toning, Moisturizing, Protecting. Nice to say, but how many of us follow it closely, given the rush to get ready and get going in 20 mins flat! But seriously, why do we need facial toners?
Perception & reality about toners
Perception: Toners are required to balance skin pH after the cleansing step
Reality: Not anymore. If you are using a mild face wash (like those containing SLES, not SLS), it is likely already pH balanced (less than 7.0, closer to 5.5). Back when people used to use soap (pH = 10.5), they needed toners for this purpose
Perception: Toners are astringents - they shrink pores and prevent them from accumulating dirt/oil inside that can lead to acne later
Reality: Partly true. It's a good thing to bring pores back to normal, and alcohol-containing toners do help with that, but watch out for the drying &irritating side effects of alcohol. Not worth it, in our humble opinion. Natural options (e.g., witch hazel, tea tree) exist, but not as "instant" as alcohol.
Perception: Toners remove traces of oil & makeup from your face, hence a must-have after cleansing
Reality: Not anymore. A good, mild cleanser will be just fine.
Perception: Toners with active ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid or natural extracts like green tea, witch hazel "do good" for the skin
Reality: True. Remember that the toner stays in your skin even after you apply a moisturizer after toning. It's great to use toners that add benefits like anti-oxidant qualities, gentle exfoliation and hydration. Go for them!
Bottomline: Choose toners for the right purpose, and choose the right toner. Which ones? See below.
Which toner should I choose
It's easier to say which ones to avoid: the ones with alcohol, unless you desperately need a quick-fix for your oily skin (see below). You really shouldn't put your skin through the torture.
Which alcohol-free toner you choose depends on what your skin type is:
Dry skin: Choose a hydrating toner with glycerine, hyaluronic acid or other hydrating agents in it.
Normal to Combination skin: The above would do. During summer, when there is some oiliness, choose toners with witch hazel, tea tree or other natural astringents
Oily skin: There is symptomatic relief to be had from using alcohol-based toners, so if you must, use one for a few days. Switch soon enough to alcohol-free ones that contain antioxidants (e.g., green tea extracts), anti-bacterials (e.g., salicylic acid) or natural astringents (e.g., witch hazel).
So long, then! Hope you found his useful. Cheers, Be Good!