What is the Purpose of Facial Toner and How to Use It?

Facial toner is a practical solution to an oily, pimple-prone face and dry skin. It is usually applied after washing your face and before moisturizing it and applying makeup, or other skincare products. Your face encounters a bevy of insults such as toxins from makeup and the environment. It is the job of a facial toner to ensure that your complexion remains aglow and healthy in appearance. Toners can be homemade such as lavender or rose water, or brand-named and available for purchase at your neighborhood store.

The ability of toner to potentiate its effects on your skin depends on its major ingredients. It is essential, therefore, to know your skin type when choosing your toner. Some of the ingredients to look for whenever you’re selecting a toner include:


Super powers of your toner

Power #1: Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid gets right to the causes through deep exfoliation and improves your skin by working in a Pac Man-like manner, dissolving dead and oily skin from the epidermis and deep within skin pores. It facilitates collagen production, which helps the skin maintain its suppleness and elasticity. It also needs to be in a sufficient proportion to other ingredients.

A concentration of 2% is reasonable. It should also have a pH level of 3 to 4, as any value that is higher than that is unsafe for the human skin because by then, you’d be tilting toward a battery acid! Salicylic acid is best for acne-prone skin.

Power #2: Lactic acid

A godsend for combination skin types, lactic acid leaves the skin hydrated. Lactic acid also helps to prevent the thinning of the skin.

Power #3: Vitamin C or Aloe Vera

This works best for mature skin. Dermatologists say that aloe vera soothes and moisturizes the skin without, diminishing chances of a breakout of acne. Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant, which helps to eliminate free radicals that accelerate the skin aging process.

Power #4: Bentonite clay

Bentonite clay purifies the skin, leaving it soft and smooth. Beauty therapists recommend bentonite clay for clogged pores, as it tightens and detoxifies the skin. It also helps to reduce the appearance of scars and effects of other skin conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema. Generally, clay makes the skin softer.

Power #5: Essential oils

Essential oils are often added to facial toners for their therapeutic effects and an improved fragrance. Lavender essential oil gives a light, flower-like scent that is soothing to many. It also serves as an antimicrobial agent. Blackhead sufferers would find chamomile and marigold oils soothing to the skin as it provides lightening effects.

Avoid toners that contain rosemary essential oil because it can darken already-blemished parts of the skin. Also, do well to avoid artificial fragrances, which are included in toners because the term “fragrance” is an ill-defined term which may indicate up to 4000 standalone chemicals.


The difference between a toner and astringent

Toners and astringents are formulations that are used to improve the skin’s surface. While toners can heal the skin due to the presence of herbal extracts like rose, lavender, cucumber chamomile, etc., astringents may be alcohol-based and are usually for designated skin types; most notably acne-prone skin, such that it may cause skin dryness and redness when used on dry or sensitive skin (Livestrong.com). Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two.

Toner Astringent
Ingredients Contains natural constituents such as floral hydrosols and herbal extracts Mainly alcohol-based
Strength Milder on the skin than astringents Contains active ingredients that are jarring to the skin
Skin type Universal, and can be used for all skin types. They are gently and rarely causes drying, with a low tendency for skin irascibility Specially formulated for oily, pimple-prone skin. Not suitable for sensitive skin
When to apply Right after washing the skin Right after washing the skin
Sensation on the skin Mild, hydrates, tightens, and heals the skin. They are slightly acidic; balancing the pH of the skin Strong. Gives a prickly feeling on the skin. Readily removes oiliness and gives firmness and tightness to the skin
How to apply Can be sprayed onto the skin or dabbed on with a cotton ball or cloth. When spraying, do not go beyond three squirts Gentle dabbling onto the skin using a cotton ball. Use moderately even when oily to prevent irritation

8 Benefits of Using Toner on Your Face

Benefit #1: It contracts pores

Large, wide-open pores are one of the major problems of the skin. They allow more dirt and toxins to impinge your skin’s surface, leading to liability to irritation, disease, and breakouts. Face toners shrivel the size of pores and cleanse them.

They find their way down to the trapped impurities and sebum and give a deep-cleaning. They will also eliminate any oxidized accumulation; reducing the size of the pores and resulting in a more elastic, younger skin.

Benefit #2: pH balance restoration

The pH level is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of any substance. It is measured from 1 to 14. 7 indicates neutrality, any figure that’s above 7 is alkaline, while acidity indicates any figure that is below 7. A toilet cleaner is an example of a substance with a pH of 14, while a battery acid is an example of a substance with a pH of 1.

Environmental stressors such as makeup, soap, edibles, and pollutants can disrupt the pH balance of the skin.  The skin’s optimum pH level is 5.5 (slightly acidic); the level where it is most radiant and resistive to debilitating bacteria. It is at this acidic environment that the natural fungus and bacteria of the skin – necessary for optimal skin health, develops (Healthline.com).

This pH level facilitates the skin’s enzyme activity which aids water retention and promotes the exfoliation of dead skin cells. An unbalanced skin pH level causes the skin to be remarkably dry, revealing signs of premature aging as well as plaguing it with fine lines and wrinkles.

Cleansing with soap creates a pH imbalance due to soap’s alkaline nature. Afterwards, your skin starts to work harder to get back to a balanced state, and this may result in the secretion of oil, which raises the acidity of your skin but clog its pores in the process, resulting to blackheads and acne. Hence, the need for a facial toner to restore the pH balance of the skin.

Toners ensure that its moisture barrier performs optimally by eradicating free radicals and bouncing off UV rays, thereby preventing moisture loss.

Benefit #3: An extra layer of protection

Minute-by-minute we are exposed to environmental insults such as pollutants from the home and outside it. Toners serve to mitigate this by closing the pores; which are the direct recipients of these insults and tighten the gaps that are created between the cells after cleansing, thus reducing the impingement on and penetration of impurities into the skin. It also removes dangerous chemicals like lead, chlorine and other substances that might get to the skin via tap water (Marieclaire.com).

Benefit #4: It detoxifies

As mentioned earlier, environmental insults constantly put your skin under stress. These insults include industrial chemicals; smoke, smog and residual impurities, which pollute the air and contain toxins and release free radicals to the skin, deteriorating the appearance and holistic health of your skin. It is the job of toners to keep your skin in optimum shape by making it revitalized and nourished. Look for toners that contain vitamins as they are good antioxidants, which fight off free radicals.

Benefit #5: It moisturizes

Toners are good humectants known to help bind moisture onto your skin. A regularly moisturized skin decelerates the aging process. They not only keep the epidermis hydrated, but they also quicken the absorption of moisturizers, enabling the skin to receive the optimal benefits from your skincare regimen.

Benefit #6: It refreshes

In place of washing your skin when it’s dirty or oily, or when there is no water in sight, a toner will revitalize your skin when you’re on the move.

Benefit #7: It prevents deep-rooted hairs

Some toners have glycolic acid or similar classes of alpha-hydroxyl acids that can help stunt the growth of deep-lying hairs, thereby facilitating proper facial grooming.

Benefit #8: They support other skin products

Your skin is like a sponge that is difficult to rehydrate when it is completely dry than when it’s a wee bit damp. Topical treatments, serums, and moisturizers will be readily absorbed when preceded by a toner than when the skin is completely dry (Healthline.com).


How Often Should You Use Toner on Your Face?

Beauticians advise the use of toners twice daily after cleansing, no matter your skin type and so long as your skin can. Find out if your skin gets dry or inflamed upon applying a toner and use it less often.

For dry or wrinkled skin, which shows signs of aging, apply toner once or twice daily after cleansing, and before moisturizing, it is best to use toners that are devoid of alcohol as it can dry out your skin severely.

Instead, look for ingredients like essential oils, lactic acid or other alpha-hydroxy acids, and glycerin, which are well-suited for dry skin on account of their moisturizing attributes.


What does toner do to your hair?

A hair toner is a formulation that helps you to compliment your hair and skin tone. It enables you to correct or add personal effects to your hair-to-face appearance. Toners change the tinge of your hair and create a finished look. It also allows you to control the shade of your hair to make it look sleazier and pop. You can even use it to turn your hair purple.

Toners are best suited for tints of blonde hair but can work for brunettes and redheads too. Acid-based toners make natural hair, including dark hair; glossy without affecting its color. It does this by making the hair more reflective to light, giving the hair a varnish-type finish.

Toners can be applied throughout the hair or at selected parts. You may choose to tone down the lower part of the hair, or at the roots to give you a natural look.

Bleaching should not be misconstrued for toning as it involves the removal of the color or pigment from the hair without adding any color. Pre-lighting is the professional term used for bleaching.

The more you wash your hair, the more often you’d need to tone it. It is also helpful when you wish to correct the texture of your dyed hair and soften any inconsistencies in your hair color to achieve that desirable hair-do and make your hair look zestier (Harpersbazaar.com).

Toning can be done at home or by the hairdresser at the salon. The stylist can mix colors, creating the right shade for you. Ammonia toners, purples shampoo or dyes can be used to get your hair dingier.

Super powers of your toner

Type #1: Ammonia-based toners

An ammonia-based toner is a semi-permanent hair toner, which contains ammonia. It works by changing the pigmentation of your hair shafts. They make your hair swell, making it more absorbent to dye, bleach or colors, thereby making the colors more visible. Ammonia also aids the lightening of hair by reacting with melanin. One let off for ammonia is its pungent odor. There are ammonia-free products, which do not use ammonia as its principal active constituent. However, they are not as penetrative into the hair and are definitely not entirely absorbed by it. With ammonia-free products, there is less disruption of the natural structure and pigmentation of the hair.

Type #2: Purple shampoo

This toner has got a very strong purple tint to and can be helpful when you want to maintain ashy tons each time you wash your hair. A well-known law of color is to remove the brassiness of yellow when toning your hair.

It is usually achieved by simply using a toner that is a reverse shade on the color wheel. Purple neutralizes yellow and makes it have a more neutral tint. It’s best to try out a series of purple shampoo brands to get the level of toning that you need.

Type #3: Dye

Dye is another method used to tone your hair. Although this is not “toning” in the technical sense of the word, it will serve the same purpose. A typical style is to use purple to tone down yellow (purple cancels out yellow in the color wheel).

Take a minute amount of purple hair dye and mix it down with a larger amount of white conditioner. Apply this to your hair for at least 15 to 30 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly.


How often should you tone your hair?

How frequently you should tone your hair depends on what you have done. The truth is the more you try to achieve an outcome that is most different from your hair color, the harder it is to maintain.

Option #1: Balayage

For this type of toned hairdo, low maintenance to the salon is required. Depending on the intensity of the balayage, salon visits every 8 to 12 weeks should be sufficient. A toner needs to be visited in-between services to ensure that the color remains fresh and to dispel any brassy, undesirable tones.

Option #2: Foils

Go back to the salon every 6 to 8 weeks to maintain your foil highlights and to keep your color neat, tidy and easy to maintain. The longer you procrastinate having your foils redone, the more difficult. It will be to get the stable results you desire.

Option #3: Full bleach

For those who wish to go total platinum, it is advised to revisit the salon once every 4 to 6 weeks to get a stable blonde-roots-to-end finish without creating yellow stripes. The natural human heat emanating from the scalp activates on-scalp bleaching. Therefore the more distant we are from the scalp, the less the bleach gets activated and the less light the hair becomes. Hence, the need to be prudent with your salon visits.

Option #4: Semi-permanent tints

Maintenance for this toning style is quite easy as they are made to fade. Since there are no re-growths, a visit to the salon once every 8 weeks is enough in most cases; provided that they are no stubborn grey hairs coming out.

Semi-permanents are fantastic as they give the sheen and tones that natural hair is missing. If the tones become more intense (red-like colors which fade faster), you may need to visit the salon as often as 4 to 6 weeks, in order to maintain your hair’s vibrancy.

Option #5: Permanent shades

These are mostly for those who want to cover grey hair and to get shades that are 2 to 3 times lighter than the natural hair color or to achieve more intense shades. Visiting the salon once every 3 to 6 weeks, relative to the hair’s regrowth rate, and the incidence of grey hair is advised.

Option #6: Fashion colors

These are for those who want to go with an in vogue look that is portrayed by pop stars. The maintenance level is as high as is keeping those shades on point. Fashion hairs demand frequent toning to keep up its color vibrancy because they fade out very quickly.

A visit to the beauty parlor every 1 to 3 weeks is necessary. The rules about scalp bleaching still hold for the roots.


Applying toner to your face

There are some different methods of using a toner based on varying skin types. Overall, it is best to find out which is best for your skin.

Oily and combination skin: Use cotton pads

Using cotton pads makes oily and combination skin types smoother and soft. It the most effective method for removing that may be sitting atop the skin. It is also the best method when you are about to apply a topical treatment such as vitamin C or serum because it prepares the skin to absorb them properly (Womenshealthmag.com).

Method: wipe the skin gently beginning from the inner to the outer part of the face.

Pro tip: use a firm, compressed cotton pad on areas where pores and flakiness are the problem and observe a progressive improvement with sustained use.

Healthy, dry and sensitive skin: Use Hands

Using your hands to apply your toner in a tapping motion gives you an instant hydration that you can actually feel. It can also be implemented by combining dabbing movements, or by gently pressing the skin for a few seconds.

Method: with your fingertips, pat the toner on your face and the smoothing it out. Endeavor to resist the urge to massage and allow the formulation to absorb on its own.

Pro tip: the natural heat that is emitted from the hands, expedites the absorption of the toner into the skin.

Very dry skin: DIY sheet mask

This is perhaps the most hydrating of all methods. It is great for dry and ultra-sensitive skin.

Method: wet a few numbers of cotton pads with the toner and apply them to the face. Let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes and secure the moisture with a light cream or lotion. This enables makeup to stay put for longer and keeps the skin hydrated for long periods of time.

Another way of applying facial toners:  As a mist

You can use your toners as a mist throughout the day; some beauticians say that this is more moisturizing when applying a water-based mist as compared to dabbing with your hands. Walk down the aisle of your local supermarket as they have a lot of empty containers. Fill it up with a combination of toner and filtered water in the ration of 2:1 to the toner.

Pro tip: avoid using your toner as a mist when you have makeup on, as makeup may contain silicone as a major ingredient. This means that instead of the mist being absorbed into the skin, the makeup applied to it as well as the moisture contained in mist will both be evaporated. As a consequence, you’ll not only be losing your makeup, but you’ll be left with an unusually drier skin.

Additional tip: Did you know that a facial toner could be used as a makeup remover?

Mix your toner with any olive or coconut oil lying around the house to create an improvised makeup remover. A toner mixture with oil is known to help dissolve tough makeup.

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