As teenagers, we were told that a skin care routine consisted of three steps: cleanse, tone and moisturise. Then we saw an outburst of “new” skin care products like serums, cooling mists, primers and eye creams, and our trusty three-step regime was no longer the norm. With the rise of these additional products, many women began substituting their toner for a serum, or skipped this in-between step altogether.
This brings us to an important question: Is a toner really necessary?
A well-formulated toner that contains essential nutrients can add great benefits to your skin, however, ingredients are key. After we’ve cleansed, our skin needs certain ingredients to restore its surface. The most important of these are antioxidants and skin-repairers such as ceramides, glycerine and fatty acids. If your toner contains any of these skin-restoring ingredients and is of a gentle formulation, this extra step will leave your skin pH-balanced, calm, soft and refreshed. Plus, the added antioxidants will fight free radicals and help with the general health and condition of your skin.
However, if you use a toner that is too harsh for your skin (think along the lines of that tingly feeing you get when you use it), you may be causing irritation and even inflammation. Strong fragrances and too much alcohol in the formulation will promote and increase red marks, breakouts, oil production and even dry out the skin.
The bottom line? Toners are definitely still relevant, but if you’re going to use one, choose it carefully. Examine the list of ingredients before you buy it, and remember to look for gentle formulations. Fragrance free is always better, as is alcohol free (expert advice from the Cosmetics Cop, Paula Begoun). As with all skin care products, you need to find the one that is right for YOU. If you’re uncertain about it, chat to your beauty therapist or dermatologist.