Facial Toners: Step-By-Step Guide

Facial toners, known also as tonics, lotions, astringents are solutions that remove surface skin cells, soap residue and oil from the skin. They are often heavy on water and alcohol and sometimes contain other ingredients like salicylic acid, witch hazel, benzoyl peroxide. A good toner will remove surface oils and debris which may be helpful for oily or acne-prone skin. A big misconception is that a toner will close enlarged pores, but actually it gives the appearance of minimizing pores as the toner irritate the skin and make it swell slightly. The toners remove excess oil from the skin, whisk away impurities that usually lead to blemishes and breakouts.

The benefits:

  1. Remove dirt and makeup residue
  2. Complement the cleansing process
  3. Refine pores and tighten pores temporarily
  4. Make skin feel fresh and clean
  5. Remove excess oil from the skin
  6. Refresh tired complexion
  7. Whisk away impurities
  8. Reduce the appearance of fine lines
  9. Increase blood circulation
  10. Restore your skin’s natural pH balance
  11. Improve skin tone
  12. Reduce oil secretion
  13. Improve the elimination of toxins
  14. Speed up cell turnover
  15. Promote sloughing of dead skin cells

Most of the dermatologists say that if you cleanse your face regularly twice a day with the appropriate skincare products you can go without a toner, but those with oily or acne-prone skin swear by toners as they keep their skin clean and fresh and remove the excess oil from the surface of the skin. Most of the people with problem skin look for a toner containing alcohol as it dry the pimples faster and there is nothing wrong in that. You should look for a product specifically designed for oily or acne-prone skin, containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, hydroxyl acid. If the amount of alcohol is too much it can provoke production of more oils which in turn means more pimples, more blackheads, clogged pores.

Apply properly:

Step #1 Wash your face

Splash your face with warm water and make sure your hands are clean. Apply the cleanser to your face with circular motions. Make sure you cover all the areas – forehead, chin, nose, cheeks and neck then rinse with lukewarm water.

Step #2 Apply the toner

A toner should always be applied to a cleansed face. It should be applied with a cotton pad. Saturate the cotton pad and pat the toner gently over your face and neck area. Apply it to the forehead, cheeks, chin and nose, or to the whole face. Never rub your skin when applying toner.

Step #3 Apply moisturizer

After applying facial toner your skin may feel a little tight and dry and that’s why you need to apply a facial moisturizer after toning your skin.

Common ingredients in facial toners are:

Witch Hazel, Tea Tree Oil, Aloe Vera, Glycerin, Sodium hydroxide, fragrance, Methylparaben, Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Panthenol, Lactic Acid, Centella asiatica, rose geranium essential oil, chamomilla recutita.


  • When applying toner avoid the eye area
  • Some harsh ingredients in the toner may cause irritation characterized by redness, itching, burning, and peeling.
  • If your skin is sensitive look for a rosewater facial toner
  • Never rub your skin when applying facial toner
  • A toner containing alcohol can dry out your skin
  • Always apply the toner to a cleansed face.

What do you think about this post?

    • sweety wrote:
      hei, just wana know what if we want to use some special day and night creams to our face for more better complexion, and if we wre using the toner.. the toner cvontains alcahol, should we cleanse our face again after using toner and before applying the cream???

    • becky kinyang wrote:
      do i wash away the toner after application or just live it to dry on my face?please help because i suffer from blemishes on previous acne i had.

    • Gwen wrote:
      Why must U use a cooton pad when applying toner , is it not wasting the toner as more of it is absorded by the cotton pad ? Is it less sffective if I do not not a cotton pad ?

    • pooja wrote:
      after how much time do i wash off the toner.please reply

    • Brittany wrote:
      Just leave on the toner- do not wash off. It absorbs.

    • ramya wrote:
      thank u....it helped me a lot

    • Ann wrote:
      Can i use tissue paper instead of cotton pad??

    • kim wrote:
      If you use tissue the toner isn't going to be absorbed and your only rubbin a minimal amount of toner as compared to cotton wool

    • shahbano wrote:
      what happend if i use tonner drectly on face and donot use cotton ball?

    • maggy wrote:
      should your face be wet or dry when using a toner?

    • maggy wrote:
      sould you use a toner on a wet face or dry?

    • revathy wrote:
      do i wash my face after two hours from applying toner and may i use any cream after that?

    • rato wrote:
      can i put on a make up immediatly after the toner or do i apply a cream first?

    • mahira wrote:
      i juxt wanna know that toner is useful for dry skin or not?

    • nusrat wrote:
      should i wash my face after applying toner than ,i have to apply moisturizer ???plz ans me

    • maria wrote:
      you should wash your face, then use a toner

    • Meikheng wrote:
      Is it necessary to use cotton pad to apply toner? Can I just pour out a small amount of toner and pat it on the face? Thanks :)

    • Bre wrote:
      Hopefully I can answer all of the questions posted. I spent many years as a skin care specialist and make-up artist. Ok, your morning and night skin care routine should go as follows: 1. Wash your face. 2. Apply your toner (do not wash it off, it should absorb in less than 2 minutes. 3. Apply your eye cream (to avoid getting millia - little white bumps under the eye area). 4. Apply your serum (if using one) *AM ONLY: Apply sunscreen 5. Apply moisturizer. 6. Apply makeup if needed Do not wash your face again after applying the toner. It is suggested to use a cotton pad or cotton ball to apply the toner to allow easy application. Your toner won't be less effective if you don't use a cotton pad, but you will waste more toner trying to use it any other way especially if you try and pour it directly on your face. Unless it's a toner with a spray pump, then you can just mist it right on to your face. Toner should be applied to a dry face. Again, do not wash your face after using your toner and yes use your cream after your toner (see steps above). Apply toner, then cream, then makeup. Toners can be very helpful for dry skin but you must find the right one. Doesn't contain alcohol and has some kind of moisturizing ingredient. Again, (see steps above), wash your face, apply toner, then apply moisturizer. Do NOT wash the toner off. I think using a cotton ball to apply your toner causes less waste of the toner than pouring it out and patting it on your face. Hope this tutorial was helpful!

    • becky watson wrote:
      i am using facial foam and on the instructions it leads: apply foam with circular movements. please advice if i can only use my hands or to use a face cloth.

    • emily wrote:
      wow thank you very much BRE I was having a small questions crisis about the toner and you completely helped me out, thank you very much & May God Bless you (:

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