This is a question I am asked often – and my answer is – you don’t.
Toners are just another way to make money out of you in this billion-dollar beauty industry filled with lies, smoke and mirrors. It is an unnecessary part of a skincare routine.
If your beauty therapist recommends one – don’t shout her down – she doesn’t know better – her training tells her that everyone needs one – and it often tells her that you need a exfoliating one as well – which honestly, is the worst thing you can do to your skin – exfoliate it every day.
This removes all of the protective layer of dead skin cells and microbiome which feeds on these skin cells, we need a few dead skin cells on our skin for our microbiome – not huge amounts which is why we need to exfoliate a few times per week – but enough for the microbiome to live in and on.
Toners originally came into existence when thick cream cleansers were a thing – products such as Ponds cleansing cream – which was a thick petroleum-based cream that removed the heavy pancake foundations we used to wear.
Even removing this cream with lots of warm water and a face washer wouldn’t remove it completely, so many women washed their faces with soap afterwards which would leave dry skins completely dehydrated and stripped.
So toners were invented to remove the excess thick creams and foundations left on the skin –you would see the residue as you wiped your face with a cotton pad soaked in toner.
Today’s cleansers are differently formulated – if you choose a natural oil cleanser or a cream cleanser (ideally not a foaming, or AHA cleanser) and double cleanse using a muslin cloth to remove the cleanser (which gently exfoliates excess dead skin cells whilst removing the oil cleanser) your skin will be clean and fresh and ready for the next step in your skincare routine.
Unfortunately, most toners are either just an expensive water mist (gorgeous when you are hot and sweaty – but otherwise – not much use) or loaded with chemicals which enter your system loading up your liver and causing internal issues which in turn cause external issues.
Some toners contain AHA or BHA’s to exfoliate your skin – these are the worst offenders – they end up stripping your skin’s surface and opening it up to bacteria, and increasing your chances of inflammation such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis or dermatitis.
If you have been using a toner for as long as you can remember – slowly wean yourself off it by buying a bottle of lovely (real, not scented full of chemical) rosewater and using this on your skin for a while – rose water is soothing and calming to the skin – plus anti-ageing, so won’t harm the skin.