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 / Updated  / Source: iVillage
By Ysolt Usigan

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.

That's not all toner can do. 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.

Here are a few options to check out:

Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner with Aloe Vera, $18 (usually $20), Amazon

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Also available for $9 (for one) at Target.

This best-selling 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.

Avene Gentle Toner, $20, Dermstore

Also available for $20 at Amazon and Walgreens.

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

Burt’s Bees Garden Tomato Toner, $12, Amazon

Also available for $12 at Dermstore and Macy's, and for $15 at Walmart.

Tomatoes help to tighten pores, so the fruit acid is a great exfoliant. Choose this toner if you have oily or congested skin.

Borghese Effetto Immediato Spa Soothing Tonic, $32, Dermstore

Also available for $32 at Macy's and Lord&Taylor.

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.

Skinceuticals Equalizing Toner, $34, Dermstore

Great for evening out combination skin, this toner contains chamomile extract, which promotes circulation and helps heal and minimize scarring.

Neutrogena Alcohol and Oil Free Toner, $4, Amazon

Also available for $4 at Target, for $6 at Walmart, and for $8 at Walgreens.

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

Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Rosewater, $7, Amazon

Available for $7 at Nordstrom, Ulta, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's and Urban Outfitters.

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

Dermalogica Multi-Active Toner, $40, Dermstore

Also available for $31 at Amazon, for $39 at Target, for $40 at Ulta and for $56 at Sephora.

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.

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner, $44, Nordstrom

Also available for $44 at Neiman Marcus and for $54 at Sephora.

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.

This story was originally on June 15, 2010 on

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