Toner deaf: Ignoring the skeptics

Posted on May 20th, 2009 by Michelle

multiple-spray-bottlesPssst: Here’s a little secret about me. Sometimes I skip a step in my skin care routine. I don’t necessarily use a serum every day. Or the eye treatment. Occasionally – GASP — I’ll go outside without sunscreen or to sleep without a night-time moisturizer.  But you’ll have to pry my toner from my cold dead fingers before I’ll give that up. Ironically, it’s probably the least necessary step of all, but I need that cool, refreshing splash of my Soothing Lotion from DHC twice a day, every day.

Of course, the idea that it actually DOES something could be all in my head. It could be the skin care industry’s version of a placebo. The primary ingredient, after all, is water.

Personal care product manufacturers tout toner as Step 2 in the daily face care routine. Used after cleansing, it clears away residue, helps re-balance the skin’s natural pH and closes the pores, making it harder for dirt to get in.  The Cosmetics Cop, Paula Begoun, consistently refers to using toners as part of a daily routine. Estee Lauder has one for every skin type. Burt’s Bees has jumped on the bandwagon with a “Tomato Garden” toner for oily skin. There are several for sensitive skin which are water, with little else.

So you can’t really blame the skeptics, who say that a good cleanser won’t leave a residue anyway; the skin restores its own pH within a couple of hours of cleansing and closed pores also prevent moisturizers from penetrating the skin.

The Beauty Brains likens toner to your appendix – you have it, but you don’t need it. An article on says it’s only essential for people with oily skin, noting that many contain alcohol or witch hazel, which can have a drying effect.

Still, my skin – which leans to the dry side — feels cleaner, softer and most importantly, quenched after using toner. I have lots of options in the do-it-yourself category including chamomile tea, green tea and even red wine.  It may be worth giving them a shot, especially the wine.  But chances are, you’d have to pry that from my cold dead fingers, too.

2 Comments on “Toner deaf: Ignoring the skeptics”

  1. Michelle

    Manasa, Before I even knew what toner was, I would keep a jar of chamomile tea in the refrigerator to use in the summer. Also feels wonderful, is especially refreshing when it gets hot and humid, is mild enough to use often and is very inexpensive.


  2. Manasa Kalkunte


    This is a great piece. I agree with you about a toner. I really feel very fresh using a toner every morning after a shower. Even if I have to put on make up, it’s great to use it after you wash it off. My skin feels fresh and looks fresh too.

    The toners I use are ‘Clinique Clarifying Toner’ and ‘Murad Clarifying Toner’. I love Murad better but it’s hard to find sometimes so Clinique it is.

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