Skincare can seem like a confusing minefield of never-ending products and steps that sometimes begs the question, “is it all really necessary?” Toning is one step in particular that tends to get overlooked, with people jumping from cleansing to moisturising without incorporating that lovely hydrating, pore-tightening, skin-balancing layer in between. If your regime is falling short, find out what you’ve been missing as we take a closer look at the merits of toner.

What Is Toner?

Toners are thin, water-based liquids or lotions packed with active ingredients that help address specific skin needs, be it a lack of hydration, sensitivity or an overproduction of oil. Toners should be applied twice a day after cleansing and swept across the face, neck and décolleté before layering targeted serums and moisturisers. One of the quickest skincare steps, toners are worth incorporating into your routine because they act as a humectant and help to hold in moisture, which ultimately improves the efficacy of any skincare that follows.

If Your Skin is Dry…

If after washing your face, skin feels tight and uncomfortable, you need a hydrating toner. The key thing here is to not strip skin of its natural oils, so stay clear of astringent toners containing alcohol, as these tend to dry out the complexion. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner is rich in moisturising avocado and apricot kernel oil as well as squalane – a botanical lipid similar in structure to the lipids found in the skin – it helps to restore moisture ensuring skin remains soft and supple. Rosewater is another hydrating hero. Sylvie Chantecaille, who suffers from a dry complexion, avoids double-cleansing which can strip skin, and swears by using Chantecaille Pure Rose Water instead.

If Your Skin is Oily…

If you suffer from oversized pores, blemishes and blackheads, an exfoliating tonic containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) will help to reduce excess oil and slough away dead skin cells which tend to hang around on the skin’s surface and lead to blockages. We’re big fans of Ren’s new Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, which is gentle enough to be used every day but without causing irritation and respecting the skin barrier balance. Susanna Saiu, Ren’s Technical Education Manager recommends “using a cleansing routine that is gentle towards your skin to avoid irritation and dryness.”

We recommend using a calming cleanser such as REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser as a first step. Also, bear in mind that while chemical exfoliants improve the texture of your skin, they also dissolve the dead surface layers exposing fresh, new skin to the sun, therefore, it’s important to wear SPF when you’re out and about.

If Your Skin is Sensitive…

If you’re prone to redness or irritation, choose a gentle, harmonising toner that will help to restore skin’s pH balance. Look for calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as lavender, chamomile, aloe vera and witch hazel, all of which can be found in ReVive Rebalancing Toner, which helps to soothe, and leaves skin in tip top condition when it comes to applying other products.

Balancing toners also act as a barrier, protecting skin against the penetration of impurities and environmental aggressors, such as chlorine and minerals common in everyday tap water. If you find water to be particularly drying or harsh on skin, toners are a great substitute. Caudalie Beauty Elixir is a refreshing, botanical blend of soothing natural ingredients, including rosemary, grape, and rose and can be used to instantly revitalise and refresh skin, even when on-the-go.