by Dr. Stacy Matthews
The average person’s facial skin care regimen often involves using a cleanser, rinsing, then applying a moisturizer. However, something is missing here. An important and beneficial second step in facial cleansing is the use of a toner. A toner is a water-based liquid applied to the face after using and rinsing off the facial cleanser. The role of the toner is to remove traces of dirt, oil, and makeup residue that is not completely removed during the normal cleansing process.
Toners usually consist of extracts and moisturizers that not only complete the cleansing process, but can help to balance the skin’s pH (acidity level) that can be affected after the use of a cleanser. Using a toner can bring the skin’s pH back to its normal slightly acidic level. There are toners than contain substantial levels of simple alcohols such as SD alcohol. These are often categorized as astringents for oily skin. However, these are not helpful for oily or any other skin types because alcohol-containing products irritate, dry, and strip natural oils from the skin, causing damage by increasing the pH of skin to higher than 5.
Gentle exfoliating properties of some toners are beneficial for acne-prone skin. A published study in individuals with acne showed that incorporating a cleansing, toning, and acne-medication regimen (three steps) led to a significant improvement in acne and skin appearance (1). However, the application of a toner is also important for those who do not have a particular skin problem. Toners help maintain healthy skin texture, close pores, and reduce the spaces between skin cells to help prevent penetration of dirt and other impurities.
Skin moisture can be replaced in the skin with toners. Proper moisture is needed to maintain or improve elasticity and smoothness of the skin. After cleansing, toners can be applied to the skin using a cotton ball and gently dabbing on the skin or by using a spray bottle. This can be applied whenever the skin is regularly cleansed, such as morning and night. A moisturizer can then be applied after the toner dries. Gentle non-alcohol toners such as Cytotone Waterless Cleanserare available that are designed for different skin types to achieve optimal skin care results.
1. Rodan K, Fields K, Falla TJ. Efficacy of a twice-daily, 3-step,
over-the-counter skincare regimen for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Clin Cosmet
Investig Dermatol. 2017 Jan 4;10:3-9.
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