What exactly is a toner?
Toners, in the most traditional sense, are acidic liquid formulas that are high in alcohol content and made to assist in further cleansing the skin. However, as skincare products have evolved over the years and Asian skincare routines have made their way over to Western countries, the definition of toners has changed.
"Historically, facial cleansers were very alkaline to get oils off the face. When you washed your face, your skin's pH would be increased by the cleanser," says Dr. Heather Rogers, a clinical dermatologist and the founder of Restore. "Acidic toners were then created to help bring the pH back down to a more optimal pH for the skin."
Clinical dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner says, "Toners are not what they used to be. Traditionally used to help balance the pH of the skin, they are [now used] for a variety of skin issues, ranging from excess oil to antiaging concerns." He continued, "They allow consumers to apply an extra layer of ingredients to their skincare routine, as the toners can be applied underneath serums and moisturizers. The lines between essences, toners, astringents, and tonics are now being blurred with so many products on the market."