Home Beautygab All Types Of Toners – Fully Explained

All Types Of Toners – Fully Explained

by Gabbi

Toners are a fantastic product to incorporate into your skincare routine because they can treat or heal the skin while also boosting the effectiveness of other products. However, toners still have an old-school stigma and are often confused with astringents.

Nowadays, toners have a modern twist, and their formulas are no longer outdated. There are hundreds of toners on the market, so you’ll be able to find one that matches your skin concerns. Almost every brand now offers a toner.

A toner’s main job was to balance our skin’s pH levels in the past. While they can still do that now, they can also help exfoliate the skin or add extra hydration. However, toners can also be confused with essences, a popular K-Beauty product.

So, what are all the different types of toners? As of now, there are too many toners to keep track of. However, the main ones are for exfoliation, hydrating, or healing. Everyone’s skin has varying needs, which can tell you what toner is best for you.

Toners can easily be incorporated into any skincare routine. So, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, we’ll break down everything you need to know about toners, like what is best for your skin and how to use it. Are you ready to find out more?

What Is A Toner?

A toner is a fast-absorbing tonic or liquid formulated to cleanse the skin. It can also treat various skin concerns like acne or dryness with the right active ingredients. It should also leave the skin feeling cleansed and revitalized.

Toners can wipe away any excess debris from the skin, balance the skin’s pH levels, and even prep for your serums and moisturizers. A good toner shouldn’t leave you feeling irritated or over-stripped. Also, a toner is usually the next step after cleansing.

Toner Vs. Essence Vs. Astringent

There are multiple products on the market that are similar to a toner. For example, people often confuse toners with essences or astringents. All these products are a tonic, but they all provide varying purposes and results for the skin.

An essence is a significant step and product in any Korean skincare routine that offers similar benefits to a toner.

Meanwhile, an astringent is harsher than a toner because they are usually formulated with stripping ingredients like alcohol or witch hazel.


A toner is primarily known as a pH balancing product that will prep the skin for your following products and removes excess dirt, debris, and oil. 

However, they can hydrate or treat the skin based on your needs. A toner can be exfoliating or moisturizing. 

Nowadays, toners have a modern formula because cleansers don’t irritate the skin. In the past, cleansers were harsher on the skin than today, which is why people used toners to calm the skin and balance the pH.

However, that’s not the case today, and toners can provide numerous other benefits. 


An essence is a crucial product to have in any Korean skincare routine. They share similarities with toners because they can be hydrating and prep the skin to absorb products efficiently. However, what sets these two products apart?

Essences are mainly used for hydration and product absorption. They are usually packed with skin-loving vitamins and ingredients to the point where they also share many similarities to a serum. They can also combat signs of aging. 


An astringent is one of the most outdated skincare products due to its irritating and stripping ingredients like various alcohols. Astringents were formulated for acne, oily, and combination skin to remove excess oil or cleanse impurities from the face.

However, they can actually be quite harsh for the skin. Toners on the market can offer exfoliating properties without damaging the skin barrier. Toners provide so many benefits today. Anyone can find their perfect match.

Types Of Toners

There is a toner for every need! First, however, let’s focus on the most popular ones on the market that make the most difference in your skin. Today, the most popular toners you’ll see on the market are exfoliating, hydrating, healing, or pH balancing.

These toners alone cater to a wide range of skin types or skin concerns. So whether you’re dealing with acne, dehydration, irritation, or oil, there is a toner out there for you. 

All of these toners will be easy to incorporate into your beauty regimen.

1. Exfoliating 

Exfoliating toners will usually target oily, combination, or blemish-prone skin types. Exfoliating toners will have many active ingredients like AHAs/BHAs/PHAs, Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Snail Mucin, Hyaluronic Acid, and more. 

These ingredients above will help reduce the appearance of blemishes, acne, texture, and discoloration and promote a bright and even skin tone. Because these toners can contain chemical exfoliants, it’s best to use them at night.

2. Hydrating

Hydrating toners can be full of nourishing ingredients, but they can also contain a small amount of gentle chemical exfoliants like AHAs or PHAs. However, some toners only contain hydrating elements to keep the skin plump and moist.

Hydrating toners can have ingredients like Hyaluronic acid, various antioxidants, Panthenol, amino acids, Glycerin, and much more. These toners will replenish the skin with moisture, help retain water, and strengthen your skin barrier.

3. Healing/pH Balancing 

Next on the list are pH balancing and healing toners. Most toners today will still be able to balance your skin’s pH levels. Toners that are exfoliating or hydrating can also be pH balanced and nourishing to apply to the face. 

Healing toners are great for sensitive skin or those who live in an area with poor air quality. These toners are usually formulated with oat, antioxidants, rose water, amino acids, panthenol, and more. 

They share some similarities with hydrating toners.

Toners For Each Skin Type

So what toner is best for your skin type? Some toners do work better for some people than others. It’s crucial to analyze your skin’s needs. Taking the time to see what part of your regimen can be strengthened can offer you the best results. 

1. Oily/Acne

Oily or blemish-prone skin can benefit the most from an exfoliating toner. 

Exfoliating toners will diminish impurities and help bring new skin cells to the surface. They usually contain chemical exfoliants and ingredients that keep oil production at bay.

For example, if you have acne-prone skin, opting for a toner with salicylic acid and niacinamide will help exfoliate the skin from within. Niacinamide evens the complexion and controls oil production, while BHA treats problematic skin deep in the pores.

2. Dry/Dehydrated

Dry skin types or skin feeling dehydrated can benefit from hydrating toners. Hydrating toners can be great for any skin type, especially those who are dry or dehydrated. They will help your skin retain water and aid in product absorption.

If you have dry skin, you can still opt for a toner that contains gentle exfoliants like mandelic or lactic acid to eliminate texture or dry spots. 

Meanwhile, the hydrating components will keep the skin soothed after exfoliation with ingredients like glycerin, panthenol, or oat. 

With a name like Aqua Bomb, this toner is just the splash you need if you have dry skin concerns.

3. Sensitive 

Sensitive skin should stick to healing toners and have minimal irritating ingredients. If you’re sensitive or have reactive skin, conducting a patch test will ensure a toner won’t cause unnecessary inflammation on the face.

Sensitive skin types can benefit from toners that are packed with antioxidants, amino acids, and hydrating properties that soothe the skin barrier. Look for toners that contain glycerin, oat, panthenol, amino acids, and rose water. 

4. Combo/Normal 

Combination or normal skin types can use just about anything. Normal skin types usually have well-balanced skin all over the face, while combination skin can be oily in some areas and dry in others. 

Again, your skin can tell you precisely what you need.

Combination and normal skin types can also be prone to blemishes or dehydration. So, one day you may need a more exfoliating toner, and others, you may want to opt for a hydrating toner. It can also depend on how well your skin takes new products. 

Do You Need To Stick To One Toner? 

Can you incorporate multiple toners into your routine? While you may not want to use two different toners within the same application. It’s possible to alternate toners every other day, week, or when you need it. That is, if your skin isn’t too sensitive.

For example, let’s say you are usually dry, but you have a breakout. Then, you can potentially benefit from using an exfoliating toner as a treatment to diminish blemishes.

So you can use an exfoliating toner 1-2 times a week and use your regular or hydrating toner the rest of the time. Overall, if your skin can handle it, you can alternate between different toners based on your skin’s needs. 

It can also be a seasonal issue. For example, you may find your skin much drier in the winter, so switching to a hydrating toner can be beneficial.

How To Use A Toner

The best way to use a toner is as directed on the label. Every brand will share its own tips and tricks when using its toner. First, however, let’s talk about how you can use toner in your beauty regimen. Thankfully, toners are simple and easy to apply!


If your toners are hydrating, healing, or pH-balancing, you can most likely use them daily (again, check the directions). These toners have soothing ingredients and are safe to use daily or even twice a day. They are usually hydrating and nourishing.

You can use these toners after cleansing and before serums, treatments, and moisturizers. For example, after washing your face, gently pat the toner on the skin and follow it up with the rest of your routine. You can do this morning and night.


Toners can also be an excellent nighttime product to eliminate excess debris from the day or even prep the skin for a face mask. If you have an exfoliating toner that’s packed with active ingredients like chemical exfoliants, only use it at night.

Chemical exfoliants can increase your sensitivity towards the sun, and using this product in the morning can potentially lead to irritation, redness, burning, sun damage, or ignite blemishes. 

Of course, read the labels on your products to get the best results. You don’t want to over exfoliate either. However, this is a good rule of thumb to save exfoliators for the night and follow up with sunscreen in the morning. 

You’ll also want to avoid mixing chemical exfoliants with retinol because that increases the chance of damaging the skin barrier and resulting in irritation, redness, dryness, and more. Instead, use them on separate days in your regimen. 

From anti-aging to skin brightening to acne-fighting, this toner does it all. It can be used day or night, but fans love using it at night because it feels so luxurious in an end-of-day routine.


Toners can also be used as a treatment. For example, maybe an exfoliating toner is too harsh for nightly use, but using it as a treatment one or two times a week can still give you the results you want. This is an excellent tip for dry or sensitive skin.

Using toners as a treatment or using them a few times a week can help your skin adjust to the product so you can eventually use it every day/night.

Tips On Using Toners

What other ways can you get the most out of your toners? Incorporating these helpful tips below will keep your skin safe, and you’ll learn how to reap the most benefits from your toner.

1. Ditch The Cotton Pad

Toners are usually applied with a cotton pad, but this can do more harm than good. For starters, the cotton pad can absorb the product quickly, leaving less for your skin to soak up. Next, cotton pads can be highly wasteful and unsustainable.

Instead, you can apply toner with your hands and gently pat it into the skin. This will ensure you get as much product as possible absorbed into the skin. You can also opt for reusable cotton pads that can easily be thrown into the washing machine.

2. Wear Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a necessary step if you want to get the most benefits from your toner. Sunscreen will protect the skin, so all the goodness from your toner can work its magic. This step is a must if you use an exfoliating toner at night.

3. Conduct Patch Test

Conducting a patch test before using a toner in your routine can allow you to see if you’ll react to the product or not. This is great if you are sensitive or unsure if this product will work for you.

You’ll also avoid unnecessary irritation or breakouts. 

4. Consult A Derm

Next, you can also consult with a dermatologist. Speaking to a licensed medical professional will ensure you take the proper steps to achieve a flawless complexion. Plus, a derm can help curate your ideal skincare routine.

5. Enjoy The Process 

Last but not least, enjoy the process. Skincare doesn’t have to be stressful, and keeping your routine limited to a handful of products can create a fantastic experience. So, think of skincare as an act of self-care, and treat yourself!

Toners make an excellent addition to any beauty regimen, and they can offer numerous benefits like exfoliating, skin rejuvenation, hydrating, healing, pH-balancing, and more. 

The right product will be able to promote a healthy complexion over time. Once you find your perfect match, you’ll understand why toners are a staple product in any skincare routine. 

What is your take on toners? Will you be incorporating them into your routine? 

Up Next: Toner – Before Or After Clay Mask?

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