As Metcalfe explains to us, toners are water- or alcohol-based solutions designed to gift the skin with extra hydration or active ingredients to address a variety of skin goals.
“Back in the day, toners were mostly alcohol-based, but not the good, moisturizing types of alcohol,” she shares. “These alcohol-based toners can be over-drying and stripping, which disrupts the skin barrier and can cause rebound oiliness. They feel great for people with oily or acne-prone skin because they make your skin feel extremely tight and clean, but they are one of the worst things you could be doing to your skin.”
Fortunately, most toners on the market these days don’t contain the worrisome types of alcohol (think alcohol, denatured alcohol, ethanol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol), and are now available in more gentle and strategic formulas. As far as the benefits toners can offer, Rouleau says the right formulas can boost hydration (leave it on damp after cleansing!), balance your skin’s pH, remove drying salts and chlorines found in tap water, enhance the results of your entire skincare regimen, and last but not least, support your skin’s natural protective barrier.
“I don’t believe toners are a be-all and end-all for great skin, and they certainly aren’t something everyone NEEDS in their regimen, but they can be helpful for some, especially those who prefer a multi-step skincare routine,” confirms Metcalfe.