June 15, 2010 at 5:22 PM ET
Although I should be taking care of my skin year round, summer is usually when I take my skin care regimen super-seriously. To control all of the dirt, oil and clog that can be brought about by the warm-weather months, I turned to expert Dr. Hadley King, a New York City board-certified dermatologist. My question: what's the secret weapon to healthy summer skin? Her answer: toner.
She says not to pile on extra makeup to mask acne and oil problems. Instead, use a gentle, soothing toner to remove oil and traces of dirt and grime. "Toners are most helpful and necessary for people with oily or acne-prone skin, or for people who want extra cleansing after wearing makeup or other heavy skin products such as sun screen," she explains.
That's not all toner can do. Dr. King explains all of the toner benefits:
It shrinks pores.
Applying a small amount of toner, like Nelsons Pure & Clear Balancing Toner ($10.95 at Nelsons Pure and Clear), to a soft cotton ball or pad and gently blotting and wiping your face with it will remove oil and give the appearance of smaller pores.
It gives your skin pH balance.
Our skin is naturally acidic, normally with a pH balance of between five and six. After cleansing, due to the alkaline nature of soap, the pH balance of skin gets disturbed. When this happens your skin needs to work overtime to restore the balance (and that may result in oil), but using a toner helps to restore this balance quickly.
It adds a layer of protection.
Toners can help close pores and tighten cell gaps after cleansing, thus reducing the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin. It can even protect and remove chlorines and minerals present in tap water.
Some toners are humectants, which means that they help to bind moisture to the skin.
It refreshes skin.
Toner can also be used in lieu of washing your skin when it's oily or dirt. It will leave your skin revitalized, even when you're on-the-go.
It can prevent ingrown hairs.
Toners containing glycolic or other alpha hydroxy acids can help to prevent ingrown hairs, so it also aids in grooming.
Do you use toner? Chime in below!
Ysolt Usigan is a contributing writer for iVillage. Follow her on Google +.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.