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Face toner can boost your complexion — here's 10 options for every skin type

Your skin care regimen might not be complete without it.
Woman rubbing facial toner on her face in the bathroom
The secret weapon to healthy skin is face toner, according to one dermatologist.Getty Images
/ Source: iVillage

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What's standing between you and clear skin?

It could be the absence of just one product in your beauty routine. For Dr. Hadley King, a New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist, the secret weapon to healthy skin is face toner.

King says not to pile on extra makeup to mask acne and oil problems. Instead, use a gentle, soothing toner to unclog pores by removing oil and traces of dirt and grime.

What does toner do?

"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 sunscreen," she said.

If you're wondering what else face toner does for your skin, King outlined some additional benefits:

  • 1. It shrinks pores.

Applying a small amount of toner 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.

  • 2. It restores your skin's pH balance.

Our skin is naturally acidic, typically with a pH balance of between five and six (on a scale from 0 to 14). But that balance can get out of whack after cleansing due to the alkaline nature of soap. When this happens, your skin needs to work overtime to return to its normal levels (and that may result in oil), but using a toner can help restore this balance quickly.

  • 3. It adds a layer of protection.

Toners can help close pores and tighten cell gaps after cleansing, reducing the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin. It can even protect and remove chlorine and minerals present in tap water.

  • 4. It acts like a moisturizer.

Some toners are humectants, which means they help to bind moisture to the skin.

  • 5. It refreshes skin.

Toner can also be used in lieu of washing your skin when it's oily or dirty. It will leave your skin revitalized even when you're on the go.

  • 6. It can prevent ingrown hairs.

Toners containing glycolic acid or other alpha hydroxy acids can help to prevent ingrown hairs, so it also aids in grooming.

If you're looking to incorporate this beauty secret into your skin care routine, we rounded up a few bestselling options below to check out.

Bestselling face toners

1. Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner

This bestselling toner is not only alcohol-free, but it also is formulated with undistilled witch hazel, aloe vera and rose water to calm even the most inflamed skin.

2. Avene Eau Thermale Gentle Toning Lotion

Formulated for sensitive skin, this toner hydrates with thermal spring water and creates a protective shield via natural silicates.

3. Borghese Effetto Immediato Spa-Soothing Tonic

This alcohol-free formula is made with a phyto-rich blend of calendula, butcher’s broom and sage, which is great for cleansing while also rebalancing skin.

4. Neutrogena Oil And Alcohol-Free Facial Toner

A solid budget beauty option, this toner is gentle and refreshing, avoiding any harsh or drying ingredients or additives.

5. Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater

This mist is refreshing and hydrating, making it great for dry skin.

6. Dermalogica Multi-Active Toner

If your skin is craving serious hydration, this toner is for you. It's made up of a calming blend of aloe, moisture-saving sodium PCA, lavender, balm mint and arnica.

7. Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner

This is an alcohol-free, deeply hydrating formula designed for dry, dehydrated skin that gently tones, reduces the appearance of pores and immediately rehydrates the complexion while it removes any traces of impurities.

8. Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid Moisturizing Toner

Dr. Jart's Moisturizing Toner is best for dry, combination, normal and sensitive skin. It's formulated without parabens or sulfated and packed with ceramides that help moisturize and protect the skin.

9. Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

To reduce pore size, blackheads and replenish combination and oily skin, this toner is a popular pick. It can be used in the morning or night as part of your skin care regimen, but like other toners, should be followed with a sunscreen when applied in the mornings.

10. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Astringent Toner

For those with oily or acne-prone skin, this top-rated toner from La Roche-Posay can help refine skin texture and reduce pore size. Key ingredient salicylic acid also works to gently cleanse the skin and unclog pores.

This story was originally on June 15, 2010 on

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