+ Skincare

To Tone or Not to Tone…

One of the most debate topics in skincare is toner.  Do you need to use toner?  Can you skip  it?  And what does toner do, anyway?

Toners remove excess residue from makeup or soap.  They tighten pores and lightly exfoliate the skin.  So do you need to use a toner?

Unless your skin is especially oily or you’re acne prone (like moi), you probably don’t need to use toner.  And if your skin is really dry, you should probably invest in a really good, clean-rinsing soap and skip the toner.  

Even if you don’t need to use toner, there is something strangely satisfying about toning your skin.  I love the way my skin feels and glows after I use toner.  It just feels so much cleaner.

If you want to give toner a try, you need to choose a toner that is right for your skin type.  I made some inquiries within my friend group, and these were the most popular brands.

Anti-Aging Toner

Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Tonic (Sephora, $28)

My Mother loves the African Red Tea line from Ole Henriksen.  They are loaded with antioxidants to help fight free radicals, and they’re packed with nutrients to replenish skin.  This tonic spray helps tighten pores and refresh the skin after washing.  


Bobbi Brown Hydrating Tonic (Sephora, $27)

Sometimes washing your face can leave it feeling dry and stripped.  If you apply moisturizer immediately after washing, you could wind up applying too much.  This could cause acne or just leave your face feeling gross.  But this hydrating toner restores the balance to your skin and replaces some of the moisture lost during cleansing.

Oil Reducing

Clinique Clarifying Lotion (Sephora, $13)

If you have oily skin like me, you should be toning your skin.  Clinique Clarifying Lotion, in strength two or three, does a great job of leaving your skin feeling fresh and clean.

For Men

Anthony Logistics After Shave Astringent (Sephora, $18)

Shaving wreaks havoc on a man’s skin.  Shaving every day can cause all kinds of skin troubles from acne to razor burn.  This after shave astringent cleans any remaining residue so you can avoid ingrown hairs and other gnarly skin conditions.

A good quality, clean-rinsing face wash is all that most women need to properly wash their face.  And I know some of you would rather not add another step to your skincare ritual.  So if you don’t want to use toner, you don’t have to, but if you choose to, make sure you select one that is right for your skin.



  1. L says:

    I have used the bobbi brown for 4 years now. I am acne prone, and i have patches of skin that will forever be dry. this toner helps A LOT. i swear by it.

    March 3, 2011/Reply
  2. Anon says:

    I have extremely sensitive skin. Anything but gentle soap and lotion (in the winter) irritates my skin. I've found that gently rubbing my face with a clean washcloth in the shower a few times a week has the same pore tightening and exfoliating benefits without irritating my skin. If you have sensitive skin, I would also recommend the Bliss Naked Body Butter for a body lotion. It's expensive when used every day but it's the only thing that gets me through the winter.

    March 3, 2011/Reply
  3. Zoe says:

    I too use Clinique but I have combination skin so I don't use it every time I wash my face for fear of too much drying out. L – I think you have convinced me to try Bobbi Brown.

    March 3, 2011/Reply
  4. VA says:

    I've been a Clinique 3-step person for years, minus the soap which my dermatologist recommended I replace with good old Cetaphil. I use the #2 toner – it actually feels refreshing on my skin, and I think it helps my skin absorb moisturizer/spot treatment/etc better. I have sensitive skin so I can't exfoliate with anything too scrubby (St Ives makes me red for days), so toner is just right for me.

    March 3, 2011/Reply
  5. VA Gal says:

    I have really sensitive skin, so anything with alcohol in it strips the skin and irritates it too much (Clinique and Neutrogena especially). I switched to Burts Bees Rosewater and Glycerin and noticed a real improvement.

    March 3, 2011/Reply
  6. Lara says:

    I'm a huge fan of L'Oreal's HydraFresh toner. It's 99% alcohol free and has all sorts of other good things in it. I have an oily t-zone and it doesn't leave me feeling overly dry and tight.

    March 3, 2011/Reply
  7. Angela says:

    I have oily skin and i feel like I have to use toner to help control the oil. However a lot of toners have alcohol, which dries out my skin way too much and makes my face and hands start peeling. I started using Murad Clarifying Toner ($22 at Sephora). Works wonders! https://sephora.com/browse/product.jhtml?id=P4015&categoryId=B70

    March 3, 2011/Reply
  8. whattokeep says:

    Another good one for super dry skin is the Ole Henrikson Balancing Cucumber tonic. For some reason, it just helps my skin really absorb the moisturizer I put on 10 minutes later.

    March 3, 2011/Reply