Toner: The Never-Ending Debate

Toner. It’s an age old debate, and we are taking one side. The big question is, do you really need to tone?

The answer is no!

And before every skincare brand rushes to their defense let us explain. You do not NEED to tone, and your skin will not die without it, however (and here is where it gets complicated) you can have one if you want to. It’s sort of like when you want to need something. Because it’s a nice colour or the packaging is great.

I am going to try and explain myself here. The definition of a toner is a ‘watery liquid that minimises pores, cleans pores and sweeps away impurities’. As a skin specialist I have great qualms with this. You cannot ‘shrink pores’, they will tighten temporarily with the cold but only for a few minutes. Long enough for you to look in the mirror and say Great!, but they will return back to their normal size based on room temperature very fast. Then they say ‘sweeps away impurities and cleans pores’ – sorry but your cleanser should be doing this job!

Toners originally were used back in the day when we had thick, oily, mineral-based cleansers and you needed something astringent to rinse off the residual grease. Cleansers have improved since the dark ages and generally don’t leave much of a residue anymore.

Okay, so whilst we stand in the debate room, leaning towards the side of toners are not necessary, that would be our opening statement. Congress next, me thinks.

Toners, in my point of view, should be renamed. The current post cleansing water-like liquids are now striving to serve other purposes but are still being labelled under the generalised toner bracket. Spritzers, post cleansing acid based exfoliators, calming tonics: these we are fine with because they serve a purpose.

I recommend organic apple cider vinegar for after cleansing to ‘tone’ with because it works wonders on dissolving and removing blackheads. I advised this to Ali years ago when she was spending time in Thailand and really struggling with her skin, what with humidity and sunblocks, and it helped her so, so much.

Spritzers containing rose water to calm irritated skin are a good choice, too. Mists are great – they stay on the skin and leave a nice, light residue of anti-oxidants. The Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist from Herbivore is perfect for just this.

Deciem’s NIOD Superoxide Dimutase Sacharide Mist (one of my all time favourite brands) is incredible as an anti-pollution shield and kills free radicals like a world class PacMan!

For those of you south of the equator who are slightly sceptic of South Africa’s postal system, The Body Shop does a great Vitamin E hydrating mist.

So there we go. My opinion on the age old debate. Take or leave it.



Cover photo courtesy of @beautiful_imperfection21

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