Toner, toning mist or facial spray?


I have been wondering for weeks now about the difference between a toner, a toning mist and a facial spray and I think I have found the answer after reading Skin Type Solution by Leslie Baumann, M.D.  

Toners for oily skin
According to the author, toners are an unnecessary expense but those with oily skin may use them for refreshing or oil-control purposes.  However, those with rosacea, sensitive, dry and combination skin should steer clear of toners because toners usually have drying ingredients that remove lipids from the skin.  Instead of a toner, use a facial water which you can spray on your face immediately prior to applying an eye cream and moisturizer.  The moisturizer and eye cream will help trap the water on the skin, giving the skin a reservoir to pull water from.  And this is especially important in low-humidity environments such as in the winter air, on airplanes, in air-conditioning, or in windy locales.

Facial spray for sensitive skin
In addition, facial waters are more suitable for those with sensitive skin because the facial waters come from thermal springs and do not contain chemicals such as chlorine that are added to our tap water to keep it free from algae and other organisms.  In fact brands like Vichy and La Roche-Posay which produces facial waters containing sulfur and selenium are effective in treating eczema.

Gentle toner or toning mist for dry & combination skin
Actually I think those with dry or combination skin can still use certain toners or toning mist as long as they do not contain drying ingredients such as alcohol or menthol and are mild.  This is so because a key benefit of using toners is that it can 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.  

Toner and toning mist difference
And ingredients aside, I figured out the difference between a toner and a toning mist appears to be more of an application process where some might like to use the former as a last step to cleanse their face thoroughly while a toning mist is more for rehydration purpose. Hence, a very gentle toning mist with soothing ingredients is also suitable to calm the skin of those with sensitive skin.

Facial spray to set makeup
But whether you have oily, dry, combination or sensitive skin, I think everyone can do with a facial spray to keep our skin constantly refreshed.  They do not cost too much and you have various choices in the market to choose from; like Vichy Thermal Spa Water, La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water, Shu Uemura Depsea Water and Evian Mineral Spray. 

And oh, they’re great for setting makeup as well!


  1. Girl-Woman says:

    I carry a spray mist on the airplane with me, too. When I get off the plane, I feel more refreshed. Great review. Thanks.

    You’re welcome! ?

  2. Alchemilla says:

    So glad someone else loves to talk about toners – and they really are a necessity. I know you mentioned they’re not good for irritated or rosacea skin, but the truth is they are great for all skin types, as long as they contain gentle ingredients and a good natural humectant. We do advise people to avoid alcohol in toners, regardless of skin type, That’s because toners with alcohol strip ALL moisture and hydration from the skin, and damage cell membrane. The squeaky-clean sensation may feel good for a while, but if you understand that the body is trying to maintain balance at all times, you’ll understand that stripping away all moisture will send skin into oil-producing overdrive! Use an alcohol free facial toner that uses natural, gentle astringents from plants (think Elder flowers or Alchemilla vulgaris). They’ll help cleanse and firm the pores, and the natural humectants (glycerin or honey) will leave a moisture-attracting ‘film’ over the skin. This will help oily skin a great deal to re-balance sebum production.

  3. sesame says:

    Since writing that entry, I’ve come across more types of toners and realized that some are formulated to deliver benefits and augment the skincare routine. So yes, you’re right…Toners are suitable for all skin types…just need to know which to use that suit yours.

  4. Vanessa says:

    Hello there, I am an esthetician/skin therapist and I have to set the record straight once and for all! ?
    Toners should ONLY be used if they say-pH balanced. That is why you would use a toner. To tone the pH balance of your skin. If the pH of your skin is unbalanced it WILL lead to pre-mature ageing and/or acne (depending on your skin type). Everytime you put water on your face, you are moving it from healthy skin range of 4.5-6.0 all the way to a 7. People with more acne/oily skin tend to have a more alkaline skin type whereas someone with clear/dry/tight/premature ageing is more acidic-so around the 4.5 mark. It might be the opposite I cant remember that part-anyway you want your skin to be between 4.5-6.0 and suprisingly most facial cleansers are 8+, soap is usually 9-11!! This may sound like gibberish-just google healthy skin pH and it confirms what I’m saying. BE WARY of what you are buying and who you are buying it from! I worked for Clinique before and they have a 3-step line that I would never reccommend to anyone! Denatured Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) is the main ingredient in their toners. #3 smells like Tequila! No joke. If you’re looking for great results, I am giving you the best advice- go to a spa or a hollistic skin care line, have your skin properly analyzed and they’ll set you up with a great line, some great lines I would recommend are GUINOT-they are my favourite! Dermalogica, Eminence(all organic), there are many more! But those are the ones I’ve worked with and loved and saw real results on others and myself. Oh another way of finding out if the product you have at home is good for your skin-Google the first 5 ingredients labelled on’s usually pretty scary and sometimes gross! i.e. Lanolin is oil/sebum derived from sheep’s wool…It is in most moisturizers and is extremely clogging! Anyway hope this helped ladies! When it comes to your face, spend a few extra bucks for the quality and make sure you have a routine-EVERYDAY! Cleanse, tone, moisturize and exfoliate at least once a week-more if you’re oilier/acne/clogged. and stick to the natural stuff as much as possible-Essential oils are amazing cosmetically, spiritually and nutritionally! Take Care everyone! If you want more info, lemme know and Ill check back! I’d love to go on and on! ?

  5. sesame says:

    Very good advice and info there! Thanks for sharing. I agree about avoiding denatured alcohol in toners – that’s awful for the skin in the long run.

  6. Lauryl McF. says:

    Vanessa I’d like to know what you think about the origins skincare line? I’ve been wanting to try it but I need to know if its a good investment.

  7. coco says:

    since the function of mist is to hydrate our face, y do we still need to use it if we are using moisturizer?

  8. sesame says:

    Sometimes the aircon or the air could dry out our face even when we have used a moisturizer so a mist is good to hydrate during the middle of the day.

    In addition, if you mist your face before applying a moisturizer, that’ll seal in extra moisture for your skin.

  9. Shruti says:

    I am new to ur blog and have got hooked on instantly
    I am a newbie to CTM too.
    I have oily-combination skin.

    I have lot of pimples on my forehead and cheeks for which I have started using Body Shop’s Tea Tree Face Wash.
    After reading about toners, I have started patting Rose Water on my face after using the face wash.
    Is this the correct way?

    I don’t apply any moisturizer since my face starts sweating instantly.
    Any suggestions which would be available in India?
    Shruti last post is: Rio Movie

  10. sesame says:

    Yes, fine to pat on rose water after washing your face. You don’t apply moisturizer? How about any facial oil. They can help moisturizer plus provide additional benefits for your skin.

  11. nicole says:

    what is the best local product for cleanser,toner,facial spray and moisturizer?

  12. Jesse says:

    Hi vanessa. I have an oily skin. What is the best facial spray mist for me? Ty

  13. Amelia says:

    I am currently starting to use a mist toner from innisfree, i am afraid to use new products because i have sensitive skin. I tried a patch on my forehead tdy and hopes it will works for me !

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