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As you look over your morning and evening skin-care routines, a toner may be low on your list of priorities—if it's even on the list! It's understandable that you may not even use a toner—especially if you still associate toners with the sting-y, drying alcohol and witch hazel blends that used to be the norm. We've said it before—most toners are ho-hum at best—but, the best toners have come a long way since the days of Ten-O-Six and Sea Breeze! In fact, a well-formulated toner will deliver anti-aging benefits that rival many of the top moisturizers and serums, making your anti-aging routine even more effective.
But, hold on! Using the right toner is critical. Toners from the ‘80s and ‘90s were train wrecks—if they weren't alcohol based, they featured a flurry of irritants (fragrance, menthol, peppermint and/or witch hazel, to name a few). While skin-damaging toner throwbacks persist today, we've found quite a few worth investigating … providing you know how to separate the good from the bad.
There is a toner out there for every skin type or concern—you just need to find the right match! Here are the top reasons why the right toner may be your shortcut to better skin:
OK, now that you know the benefits of a well-formulated toner, how do you know which one is right for you? What should you avoid when shopping for a toner? We've narrowed this list down to two simple guidelines: First of all, be choosy; second, keep your skin type in mind.
Be choosy. Great toners are not very common, but they are out there! Don't bother with toners that contain too few beneficial ingredients (those that contain just water, aloe, and glycerin) or that are loaded with too many bad-for-your-skin ingredients. The latter, of course, present the more significant risk—if a toner contains a high amount of alcohol, fragrance, or irritants like peppermint, citrus, rosewater, or essential oils, it is going to be more trouble than it's worth over the long term. Irritation does a number on your skin's ability to heal and produce healthy collagen, and it can aggravate breakouts or create extreme combination skin.
Make finding your ideal toner easier by checking out our recommendations on Beautypedia—we've already done the research for you!
Keep your skin type in mind. Although a good toner will always contain a mix of antioxidants and skin-identical ingredients, keep your skin type in mind to find the right balance of moisturizing agents. Those with oily to combination skin should look for formulas that offer light hydration (think glycerin and lower amounts of fatty acids). Those with dry skin should look for toners with richer moisturizing agents, including non-fragrant plant oils and phospholipids. If you have normal skin, you can use any well-formulated toner you want, assuming you want the extra benefits a great toner can provide.
We hope we've explained the many ways a great toner can benefit your skin. None of us on the Paula's Choice Research Team would be without our favorite toners because we've seen the remarkable difference they make in the healthy feel and appearance of our skin.
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Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:
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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.
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