Toners: Is there a difference?

While I’ve been using toners on my face since I started out using skincare, I’ve never actually thought much about it.  I just use it because it’s supposed to be part of the cleansing process to clear out the impurities.  And over the years, I didn’t really see a lot of difference on days when I’ve forgotten to swipe on the toner.

Then last week I noticed that my skin around my T-zone was getting extra oily and my pores around my cheeks closer to the nose seems to be larger than usual.  I stopped to think about what went wrong and realised I had forgotten to use my toner most of the time during that week.  If all my routine was the same, I can only think of the lack of proper toning as the cause.  Now, that’s funny if you ask me because I’ve never noticed a huge difference in the past when I’ve forgotten that cleansing process. 

Could it be because of the particular toner I’m using now? 

Well, I’m currently using Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-free Toner, which by the way is a toner also highly recommended by Barbie Hsu (美容大王徐熙媛大力荐契尔氏小黄瓜植物精华化妆水).   Before this, I was using Estee Lauder Sparkling Clean for quite awhile. 

So I decided to dig around the Net to find out how important is the toner and if there is a difference to toners.  This is a gist of what I’ve stumbled upon.

In general, toners fall under two categories.  One category is made to remove traces of impurities that your cleanser can’t get rid of and even the remaining traces of your cleanser itself.  And there is yet another category that leave behind helpful goodies, like vitamins, minerals and hydrators to nourish the skin. 

So toners do not only offer additional deep cleansing of the pores, it actually can serve to hydrate, revitalize, soothe and balance the pH of the skin, literally relaxes and tones the pores preparing them to more effectively receive the benefits of the moisturizer. 

But don’t expect toners to close your pores.  You’ll still need a pore minimizer to do that job.

Well, I didn’t know there are toners, and there are better toners.  I’ve just generally dismissed them as all the same, except for the alcohol contents.  But it looks like there is more to that from what I’ve read now.

Perhaps I should also throw the question back to the ladies.  Anyone of you have anything to share about your toning experience?  Or perhaps share about your favourite toner?


  1. marina says:

    Oh my, I have to admit that I skip the toning part in my skincare regiment. But sometimes I do carry a mixture of rosewater and witch hazel with me to spray on my face for that tired and sleepy days ?

    marina: I believe using spritz does help to freshen and tones the face too. Only thing I suppose is by not toning, you may have missed out the impurities clearing process? But your skin has been great, then it’s not much of a concern…

  2. doris says:

    I love my parsley seed facial toner by aesop. I find that toning helps to remove impurities and traces of dirt. I will always check my cotton pad after toning and my… I can see traces of impurities. It could be dead skin too. Thus, I swear by toning… ?

    Doris: Hey, I was just looking at Aesop’s range yesterday but walked out empty handed cos I had already busted my budget. But the parsley seed toner sounds cool. Think I want to try that after I’m done with my current.

    I do like to check my cotton pad too. What I’ve noticed is that with certain cleansers that I’ve used, the cotton looks more brownish meaning the cleanser didn’t do a good job.

  3. domestic rat says:

    Hmmm… now that you mentioned it. I think Eudermine has the same effect as the Aesop toner Doris tried. I always remember the cotton pad looking a tad brown after application but this does not happen with the Depsea toner I’m using currently.

    DR: Like I mentioned to Doris earlier, mine was a result of the cleanser I used. But if your cleanser was the same all the time, and it was only due to the change in toner, then perhaps Eudermine is stronger than Depsea?

  4. iry says:

    I thought finally I’ve master the art of cleansing face when I found nothing brownish in my cotton. Wrong though. ?

    Sesame, I’ve tag you here:

    iry: I think it depends. It could also be cos your cleanser is powerful enough…I suppose the only way is thru experimentation.

    Hey, thanks for the tag. I’ll check it out and do it. I’ve done that in my personal blog but I think I can come up with something relevant to Viva Woman. Give me some time k?

  5. lilian says:

    I am one lazy person who skips toner when I am too tired. Usually, my toner lasts two sets of cleansers and moisturisers. No wonder, I have lots of oily T-zone.

    Lilian: Yeah…maybe try using a toner and see if there is a difference after awhile.

  6. doris says:

    Sesame.. the parsley seed toner is expensive but can last very long lah… my beautician taught me to damp the cotton first then put a few drops of toner of the damped cotton pad so you won’t have to use so much toner! Also, the toner contains all natural ingredients – no alcohol or chemicals so it’s worth it. I’m not an affiliate of Aesop lah… I just think the products are really good.

    And Lilian.. lots of oily t-zone can indicate a time to change moisturizer. Try avoiding using any moisturizer in the day if you have oily T-zone.

    Doris: Oh, damp the cotton and put a few drops? Wow, that’s a GOOD TIP! Thanks for sharing. And it’s true what you said about the T-zone. In actual fact, I don’t moisturise my nose area that much.

    I didn’t check the prices of Aesop but they do look EX. Heehee…but willing to try.

  7. domestic rat says:

    not sure if Eudermine is stronger than Depsea but it does wonders for my skin during winter times. Kinda soothed and calmed the eczema inflammation but as with all things, the effect becomes less over like 3 bottles.

    DR: Maybe the word isn’t stronger, but more beneficial. Btw, my friend Ashes suddenly developed eczema… ?

  8. a says:

    I use acid cider vinegar (completely organic, unpastuerized) for a toner. I dilute it with water, and dab it on. It’s EXCELLENT!

    a: sounds interesting! Maybe I’ll give it a try sometime…

  9. fwy says:

    All this while I don’t use toners until these organice brands started popping up everywhere. I am currently trying out Lavera Aloe Vera Toner & noticed after applying I had visibly less oil on my face even during the afternoon. I must say I’ll continue to use toner (organic ones) as long as I can afford it.

  10. Lyzz says:

    My 33 year old cousin has never added toners to her skincare regime, her whole life. She’s allergic to them. I guess she’s one of those lucky ladies born with good skin. While I have tried too many high-end products, she’s been using Clean & Clear since high school. She only needs a cleanser, moisturizer and a lipstick before going to work. Not even sunscreen. Mind you we live in the tropics and the sun is harsh all year long. She would add BB cream and powder for special occasions. And all of these are really cheap. I don’t mean to be rude, but even my maid uses them. Idk. She has Siamese ancestry, could that be where she got the skin from?? Or maybe cos she grew up in a village.. Maybe the air was better? Idk. She doesn’t even drink a lot of water and doesn’t take a lot of vegetables or fruits. Her face is always glowing as if she’s on collagen & hyaluronic acid. I envy this kind of girls. She recently had a baby but apart from a slight weight gain, she’s prettier and cuter now. Like What. The. Hell. ?

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