How Often Should You Use Toner? (And Do You Really Need It?)

As a skincare addict, I’ve used pretty much every type of skincare product out there for my skin. One of my favorites that most people don’t know too much about is toner. A facial toner is a light liquid containing skin-boosting ingredients. I think of it as an easy way to give my skin the vitamins and moisture it needs to stay glowing, firm, and even-toned.

As a general rule, you should use toner on your face once or twice daily.  More than twice a day is unnecessary and may irritate your skin. Choose a toner that’s packed with research-backed ingredients such as antioxidants, moisturizers, or exfoliants.

Let’s dive into what toners can do for you and how to best use them.

How Often Should You Use Toner?

You should use a toner after you cleanse your face, usually once or twice a day.

I use a toner in the morning and evening after I wash my face and pat it dry. If you have oily skin and your toner helps control the oil, it may be a good choice to use it in the afternoon (just make sure to reapply sunscreen after!).

If you have sensitive skin and you’re using a toner with an exfoliant, such as glycolic or lactic acid, you may not want to use it twice a day, or even every day. It’s perfectly fine to rotate it with a different toner that is more gentle.

You are the best judge of what works for your skin. If your skin is used to exfoliants and it’s not too strong then go ahead with twice a day. Just be careful to notice how your skin looks and feels.

If you see redness, peeling, or feel any signs of irritation pull back and use the exfoliating toner only once a day or even every other day. Alternate it with one that’s moisturizing or packed with antioxidants and soothing ingredients such as aloe or panthenol.

woman putting toner on cotton pad

What Does Toner Do?

The better question would be what don’t toners do! A toner can have all the amazing skincare ingredients that serums, masks, and creams have. They usually just have them in lower percentages, which makes them gentle and usually, less expensive.

Here are some benefits of facial toners:

  • fights the signs of skin aging
  • moisturizes
  • exfoliates
  • helps control excess oil on your skin
  • soothes irritated skin
  • minimizes appearance of pores
  • balances PH levels of skin
  • brightens skin

You can choose the type of skin toner based on your skin concerns. If you’re unsure, I’ve included some suggestions below.

If you have dry skin look for a moisturizing toner with glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Even normal skin can benefit from a moisturizing toner in winter.

If you are concerned about the signs of skin aging such as dark spots and wrinkles, look for a toner packed with powerhouse antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and A.

Anti-Aging Tip: Antioxidants are one of the best weapons against aging skin. Check out my article here about green tea, one of the most powerful antioxidants in skincare.

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, look for salicylic acid. It can penetrate the oil to help reduce the appearance of pores and gently exfoliate. Also, don’t shy away from moisturizing toners, dry skin can make your oily skin produce even more oil. It’s a myth that oily skin types don’t need moisturizer.

For dull skin try a toner with gentle exfoliants, such as glycolic acid or another Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). AHAs brighten your complexion by helping to remove the top layer of dead skin cells. Another benefit of AHAs is they help fade dark spots and even out skin tone.

If you’re interested, take a look at my complete guide to AHA’s for more information on how to use them. They’re affordable, suitable even for sensitive skin types, and have so many benefits for your skin.

Chart showing benefits of Toner

What To Look For in A Facial Toner

You may remember the astringent, alcohol-based toners from the ’80s and ’90s. These toners stripped skin of its natural oils and left it dry and irritated. Thankfully, toners have come a long way since then!

Look for a toner that is free of artificial fragrance and dyes. Even though you may not feel it, they can cause irritation that you can’t see.

I’ve written an in-depth review of my favorite toner here. It’s gentle and packed full of amazing active ingredients like Vitamin C, green tea, and hyaluronic acid. A bottle lasts me 3 to 4 months and it’s available on Amazon or in beauty supply stores like Ulta.

Toner: Yay or Nay Graphic

How to Use Facial Toner

I use a toner in the mornings and evenings after washing my face. After my face is dry I pour some toner into my bare hands, pat it on my face and then smooth it down my neck.

In the mornings I wash my face with only water, no cleanser; if you have dry or sensitive skin you may want to do this as well. I’ve been doing this for years and my skin looks better at 43 than it did in my 30’s.

Many people apply toner with a cotton pad or cotton ball and this is a great option. I just don’t like to waste a drop! I’ll even rub any extra on my forearms or chest.

Do I Really Need a Toner?

You don’t necessarily need a toner. For a minimalist skincare routine, all you need is a cleanser, sunscreen, and a moisturizer. But let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t have read this far if you weren’t at least somewhat interested in skincare!

For me, I view toners as an easy (and often inexpensive) way to load my skin up with collagen-building and moisturizing ingredients. In my opinion, to fight the signs of aging in our skin, the more antioxidants the better. That’s why I choose to use toner as part of my everyday skin care routine.

Toners may not have the high concentration of ingredients that a serum has, but they are often significantly less expensive. They are a quick way to make my skin feel and look its best.

Final Thoughts On How Often To Use Toner

Skincare doesn’t have to be complicated! My goal is to provide clear, helpful information and help you feel great about your skin. Hopefully, you’ve learned a little about facial toners and skincare today.

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