Toner 101: What Is A Toner & Why You Must Include One In Your Skincare Routine

Toner 101: What Is A Toner & Why You Must Include One In Your Skincare Routine
Products Mentioned
The Body Shop
The Face Shop
The Body Shop

With the boom of K-beauty in India, toners have become quite the rage lately. Every brand has multiple variants of this cult-favourite product. Hydrating, moisturising, exfoliating, there’s a different type of toner for everyone. If the last time you used a toner was almost a decade ago, you'd probably associate it with a painful stinging sensation and mild to severe acne in your teens! Your dermatologist probably told you to put some watery looking stuff onto a cotton pad and give your face a rub down with it? Yep, that was a toner! Most of us associate a toner with something that burns, stings and dries out the skin. But that was back in the day. Modern-day toners have close to no alcohol content in them and are loaded with antioxidants and skin-soothing ingredients. And everyone can and should use alcohol-free toners! It's not only for acne riddled teens anymore. 

Table of Contents

    What is a toner?


    A toner is a watery liquid that you use AFTER washing your face and BEFORE applying moisturiser. A toner is designed to balance your skin’s pH. It will cleanse any residual dirt trapped in your pores after cleansing and get rid of dead skin cells. With regular use, a toner helps your skin look brighter, smoother and healthier. While there are different kinds of toners for different problems, some of the issues a good toner can help correct are dull skin, acne, oily skin, redness and dry skin. If you wear makeup on a regular basis, you will highly benefit from the deep, double cleansing that a toner offers.

    Benefits Of Skin Toner


    It’s not essential that you should be using a toner, but if you wear a lot of makeup or even sunscreen on a daily basis, a toner will help deep cleanse your skin. Because of its texture, a toner has the ability to penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin and pores and cleanse them. Here are the benefits of using one: 

    Deep Cleanses 

    After using facewash, you pat dry your skin and then use a toner. This works as a second cleansing system. Any dirt and dust that your face cleanser was unable to remove, your toner gets rid of. It effectively rids your pores of excess oil and other pollutants. 


    It’s a great way to refresh your skin. If your skin is feeling dirty and oily during the day, a simple wipe down with a good toner will help get rid of excess shine and leave your face feeling fresh. 

    Restores pH balance

    We expose our skin to a lot of harsh pollutants and alkaline properties in the form of face wash and makeup remover. Due to the harsh cleansing nature of these products, they tend to strip your skin of all it’s natural oils. This causes your pores to overcompensate and produce more oil. This is the prime cause for problems like oily skin and acne. The ideal pH of your skin should be 5-6 and harsh face washes can disrupt this balance. A toner brings your skin back to its optimal pH and keeps skin problems at bay. 

    Shrinks Pores

    A toner deep cleanses your pores of all the oil, dirt and pollution trapped deep inside due to which your pores tend to look smaller and less noticeable. Because your skin is clean from the inside and out, it looks brighter, healthier and has fewer problems like acne and clogged pores. 


    Some toners have AHA’s and BHA’s that help to mildly exfoliate the skin and get rid of excess oil and clogged pores. If you have oily and acne-prone skin, a toner with some kind of AHA or BHA would be highly beneficial for you. If you suffer from ingrown hair on your hands, arms and legs as a result of waxing or hair removal, a toner with AHA/BHA can also be used on your body to keep those spots at bay. 


    There are a lot of toners with ingredients like aloe vera gel and glycerine that help keep your skin soft and supple. If you have dry skin, use a toner which has some kind of humectant in it and it will add an extra layer of hydration before you moisturise. It will help maintain the elasticity of your skin and give you a more youthful appearance. 

    Also Read Best Facial Toners To Tighten Open Pores

    How to use a toner?


    The best way to use it would be to dampen a cotton pad or a cotton ball with a little bit of toner and wipe your face with it. Alternatively, you can also sprinkle some onto your hand and pat it into your skin. I prefer the cotton pad method since it cleanses your skin better. 

    When do you use a toner?

    You need to use a toner IMMEDIATELY after washing your face. Depending on what kind of toner it is, you can use it twice a day - morning and night. If you have super sensitive skin, it would be best to use it once a day for a while until your skin builds a tolerance to it and then gradually increase it to twice a day. If your toner has exfoliating agents like AHA and BHA, it’s best to use it once at night.

    Choosing the right toner

    It’s important that you consult your dermatologist and identify your skin type before using a toner. If you have dry skin, you will require a toner that has humectants in it to moisturise and soothe your skin. People with oily and acne-prone skin should use a toner that is designed for oily skin or one that has an exfoliating agent added to it. Identifying your skin type is key. 

    Normal skin: Your skin looks the same from morning to evening, with very little oil and shine. 

    Oily skin: Your skin gets oily and shiny in a few hours after washing your face. Blackheads, whiteheads, acne, clogged pores are things you struggle with.

    Combination skin: Your face has multiple skin types in different areas. Typically, people with combination skin have oily T-zone and the rest of the face is dry. 

    Dry skin: Your skin looks dry, dehydrated and dull and gets flaky from time to time.

    Sensitive skin: Your skin is prone to redness and is very sensitive to most products and even the sun. It may be more prone to sunburn and redness. 

    We hope that helped you identify your skin type and your skin concerns. Here are the different types of toners available in the market!

    Best Toner For Normal Skin

    Plum Green Tea Alcohol Free Toner
    INR 390 AT Nykaa

    If you have normal skin with very few skin issues, this toner is a great addition to your skincare routine. It’s alcohol-free and has a mild concentration of glycolic acid to exfoliate your skin and keep it free of acne, blemishes and clogged pores. Over time, your skin will look brighter and more radiant.

    Best Toner For Oily Skin

    Clinique Clarifying Lotion 4 - Oily
    INR 2,350 AT Nykaa

    Clinique’s range of toners is designed for different skin types. This one keeps excess oil from your skin at bay while minimizing breakouts. Make the most of your toner by pairing it with Cliniques regime for oily skin.

    Best Toner For Acne Prone Skin

    The Body Shop
    The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner
    INR 695 AT Nykaa

    Tea tree oil is one of the best natural ingredients for acne. It gets rid of bacteria on your skin that cause acne and it also helps fade old scars and blemishes. This one from The Body Shop will also help mattify your skin.

    Best Toner For Dull Skin

    Pixi Glow Tonic
    INR 1,480 AT NNNOW

    Pixi’s iconic range of toners is now available in India and the Glow Tonic is a godsend for anyone with dull, oily and acne-prone skin. It has 5% of glycolic acid to help mildly exfoliate your skin while deep cleansing your pores. Over time, it will exfoliate your skin, deep clean your pores and increase cell turn over leaving you with brighter, spotless, glowing skin.

    Best Toner For Dry Skin

    The Face Shop
    The Face Shop Chia Seed Hydrating Facial Toner
    INR 1,350 AT Nykaa

    Chia seed has hydrating properties that help moisturise and soothe. This toner is enriched with chia seed sprout to moisturise your skin and provide lightweight but intense hydration. It hydrates the skin, nourishes your pores and keeps flakiness away. Pair it with the rest of the Chia Seed range for best results.

    Best Toner For Sensitive Skin

    Plum Chamomile & White Tea Calming Antioxidant Toner
    INR 380 AT Nykaa

    Chamomile and white tea have a calming effect on your skin. This toner has plant extracts that are rich in antioxidants to soothe and hydrate the skin while getting rid of the irritation.

    Best Toner For Combination Skin

    The Body Shop
    The Body Shop Seaweed Oil Balancing Toner
    INR 995 AT Nykaa

    This toner is perfect for anyone with combination skin. It is alcohol-free and the seaweed extract in it will help to bring your skin back to its optimal pH.

    Best Toner For Large Pores

    Biotique Bio Cucumber Pore Tightening Toner
    INR 175 AT Nykaa

    This is one of the oldest and most loved toners in the market. It also happens to be the most affordable one of the lot. It’s enriched with cucumber, coriander, mint extract to cool and soothe your skin while reducing large pores.

    Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Toner
    INR 1,440 AT Nykaa

    If oily skin and large pores are something that concerns you then this toner is the best investment for your skin. It will absorb excess oil while keeping your pores squeaky clean. With regular use, it will reduce sebum production on your skin and minimize the appearance of large pores.


    Is it safe to use a toner? 

    Yes, it is safe to use a toner. All skin types can benefit from using a toner. Always remember, cleanse first then tone and finally moisturise. 

    Is using a toner really necessary? 

    I have flawless skin, do I really need to use a toner? Probably not, but using one will help keep your skin fresh, youthful and clean. It will help your skin if you are prone to breakouts and clogged pores. It acts as a second cleanse and cleans your pores of oil, sweat and other impurities clogging them. If you are someone who wears makeup often or applies a lot of sunscreen throughout the day, a toner will help you get rid of all the product stuck in your pores. 

    How often should I use a toner? 

    You can use a toner in the morning and at night. If your skin is prone to sensitivity, start by using it once a day and gradually work yourself up to using it twice.

    What is the right way to apply a toner? 

    There is no right or wrong way. You can pour some toner onto the back of your palm and dab it into your skin. Alternatively, you could dampen a cotton pad or a cotton ball and then wipe your face with it.  

    Now that you know all about toners, it's time you add one to your skincare routine. 

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