I have to admit, using a toner (after cleansing) hasn't been part of my beauty routine until very recently, but I'll let you in on a little secret of mine, toner is set to make a HUGE comeback in the world of skincare right now.
For a long time I associated all toners with my experience of them as teenager - when all you could buy was alcohol-laden mixtures of water and witchhazel that burnt your face off!
A tingle however, I've learnt, is okay.
So, if your skins been feeling a bit under par recently, this toner trend is a bandwagon you should get on.
Do remember though, not all toners are created equal, I'm not talking about the perfumed waters peddled as the "essential" step two in a skincare regime, no no no. I'm talking about liquid exfoliants.
What you need to know…
Toners stimulate circulation in the skin, remove any remaining dead skin cells or greasiness, and give the skin a smooth texture. They can be especially helpful if you have very oily skin or wear a lot of makeup. A good toner will help to restore your skin's natural pH balance.
My favourite's are 'acid' toners aka liquid exfoliants - such as AHAs (glycolic and lactic acids; for most skins except very sensitive) and BHAs (such as salicylic acid; better on spotty, oily and sensitive types). I find them to be the most effective way to exfoliate my skin - without having to resort to harsh beads, grains, and those god awful apricot kernels - that all ultimately ravage your skin, rather then do it any good.
This extra skincare step will also help aid the absorption of any products put on top of it - it basically makes the rest of your skincare more effective.
Sign me up I hear you say… but how/when/and in what order?!
Well… start with your usual cleanser to remove all of your makeup and clean your face...
Next... apply an exfoliating toner first, on cotton wool or with the pre-soaked pad.
Then... spray or cotton on a hydrating toner before you apply any serum/oil/moisturiser.
The hydrating toner, should contain things like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, algae or aloe vera. A mixture of softening and moisturising/hydrating. I like the The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner, £8.50.
The exfoliating toner will contain acids - the strength of which is up to you depending on what your skin feels like on the day.
* It's worth noting that you can use toners on your décolletage too.
These are my top six alcohol-free picks …
Pixi Glow Tonic £16 - An oxygenating and exfoliating facial glow tonic. For normal to dry, aging and sensitive skin.
Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner £25 - Feels soft and comfortable, best fort dry, dehydrated skin.