Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Should you add Toner to Acne-prone Skincare routine?

An optional step, but a beneficial one.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Apr 8, 2022

Out of your entire skincare routine, whether it’s 3 or 20 steps, have you ever wondered if face toners are even necessary? If you’ve been into skin care for quite some time, you might remember the drying, alcohol-based toners that everyone hated. Fortunately, science and marketing have since taken a turn, and present day toners are pH-balanced and formulated to reduce redness, smooth texture, gently exfoliate, improve acne-prone skin, and give you a subtle inner glow.


Most of the current formulas on the market have hydrating and calming formulas in addition to chemical exfoliants. Translation: Your skin will be ultra-hydrated, and cleansed of all bacteria or debris that sometimes causes acne. So you might be wondering what else toners are good for and all their benefits. Below is a breakdown everything that toners do.


Are toners good for acne?

Firstly, let’s clarify what a toner is actually used for. Toner, a liquid that penetrates the skin very quickly, hydrates and removes dead skin cells. That is its primary role. Toners can help with skin inelasticity and excess oil that often times leads to breakouts, acne, and stress pimples—depending on the other ingredients.


But by far, toners are a great resource for acne-prone skin, as it cleanses the skin of any lingering residue. Toners can help reduce pore-clogging dirt, debris, and any other elements that a typical cleanser often leads behind. And most importantly, toners balance the skin’s pH level and helps absorb all the products more effectively in a skincare routine.


What do I look for in a toner?

Look for a toner that has these ingredients—polyhydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acid, alpha hydroxy acid, and others—meant to unclog pores, clear breakouts, and reduce blackheads. All of these ingredients can be used on dry skin, oily skin, and sensitive skin.


Cool and how do you apply toner?

Understanding what order to apply all your skincare products can be confusing, misleading, and down right annoying. So we will make this easy on you. Toners should be used directly after your cleanser (read: face wash). Whether you cleanse once or enjoy a double cleanse, it does not matter—just make sure toner goes on after this.


You can first put the toner in your hands, then tap into the skin, or place the toner on a cotton pad and disperse it that way. For more of the benefits, allow the toner to sit on your face for a good 5 minutes before continuing your skincare routine. This will help the acids go into the skin before other products come into play.


What else should I keep in mind?

Remember how we spoke about those archaic toners of the past, the ones with alcohol in them? Those are the ones you need to avoid. Alcohol-based toners strip the skin of its natural lipids and cause skin to be irritated or dry when you use them. Avoid these at all costs if you want safe, non-striped skin.


Secondly, start low and slow. When you first start using toner, only use it once during the day and try to use it at the same time every time for consistency. Also, don’t use it every single day in the beginning. Instead, opt for a few times a week to get your skin used to it, and check for any reactions.


If you don’t happen to react, you can start increasing it to every day use. Once you are at every day use, you can use twice a day if you like. Lastly, if you use retinol at night, keep it that way. Adding toner to a nighttime retinol routine will only make your skin drier.


Need more help with acne? We have a guide to treating different types.


Photo via iStock