Toners are often overlooked because people assume it only has mahapdi effects. Do you have flashbacks of your high school days of soaking pimples with a cotton-soaked astringent toner in hopes of it dying down? Worry not, because the toners in this article are not like that. Presenting the beauty that is Korean toners.
Glass skin has been all the rage in K-beauty, and toners are just one part of the multi-step skincare routine to achieve that. These toners can help hydrate your skin, balance your pH level, and remove dirt without the stinging effect. We have prepared a buying guide to help you choose what is best for your skin type, as well as our top picks! Dermatologist Dr. Katrina Erika Habaluyas Luz also shared some of her knowledge and tips to guide you further.
Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz is the face behind Ask Your Derma. She is also a board-certified dermatologist in Metro Manila.
She is also an educator and digital creator on all things skin, hair, and nails. She is a Diplomate of the Philippine Dermatological Society and offers online video consultations. You can also catch her on her Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.
A toner’s purpose is often misunderstood. It is mistakenly thought that it should sting, otherwise it’s not working. But toners are meant to hydrate the skin and balance your skin’s pH levels since cleansing tends to neutralize your face’s acidity.
It is good for removing residue whether that is oil or dirt that is not removed by your cleanser. This is also the reason why a toner is also good for prepping your skin. This makes it easy for your face to absorb other skin care products.
Are toners a must? Now before answering that question, what are toners in the first place?
Toners used to be equated to alcohol-based astringents with the aim of reducing the oiliness of the skin. Newer toners, however, are now more versatile. They're usually water-based though some may still act as astringents. Newer toners include hydrating toners or "active"-infused toners.
Now to answer the question, toners aren't actually a must, but they do provide these benefits:
With so many variations of what is beneficial in a toner, it can get quite confusing. Here are some things you should know when buying a Korean toner to help you get that glass skin.
In choosing a toner, it is important that you look for ingredients that will address your skin's concerns. Take note of your skin type and what ingredients suit it best in order to get optimum results.
Exfoliating acids are beneficial for oily skin as it helps to remove excess sebum from your face. Lactic acid, salicylic acid, and AHAs are good examples of ingredients to have in your toner as it can help regulate your skin’s oil production.
Tea tree has antiseptic properties which can help calm acne, the same goes for witch hazel, which is slightly astringent but it is helpful for relieving inflammation and fighting acne. Bentonite clay is also good for absorbing excess sebum as well as treating breakouts.
For oily and acne-prone skin, an exfoliating toner can be beneficial. Look for ingredients such as salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid that is lipid-soluble, making it an attractive ingredient for oily skin. It has the ability to penetrate inside pores and remove oil and debris.
Witch hazel, on the other hand, has been used topically as an astringent and anti-bacterial treatment for skin to alleviate inflammation caused by acne. Between the two, I'd go for salicylic acid as it has more science backing it up. Make sure to do a patch test before adding either to your regimen.
Those with dry skin need to look for toners with moisturizing ingredients to add hydration to their parched skin. Commonly praised ingredients are hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which are humectants, meaning it works by drawing moisture into your skin.
Hyaluronic acid is also capable of holding 1000 times its weight, making it really beneficial for dry skin, while glycerin keeps your skin moist and soft. Niacinamide or vitamin B3 can improve your skin’s texture as well as its protective barrier, which reduces water loss.
For dry skin, a hydrating toner is the way to go. Best to avoid an alcohol-based or astringent toner altogether as it can dry out your skin further.
Look for hydrating toners with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin. These can give you the extra hydration you need. But of course, just because you have a hydrating toner doesn't mean you can skip the moisturizer!
If you have sensitive skin, you need to look for ingredients that have soothing properties to help calm your skin and avoid irritating it.
Calendula and chamomile are great because it has hydrating and soothing benefits for your skin. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve itching. Another great ingredient for this skin type is rose water - good for relieving redness and irritation and is gentle for sensitive skin types.
For sensitive skin, look for ingredients that are calming or soothing to the skin. Definitely, an alcohol-based or astringent-toner wouldn't be a good fit as this can irritate your skin more. Good options include Centella Asiatica (calms down inflammation and improves skin hydration), panthenol (acts as a humectant and anti-inflammatory), aloe vera (acts as a humectant and anti-oxidant and accelerates healing).
They say that the skin’s ability to regenerate slows down as we age. If you have mature skin, it is important to look for toners rich in antioxidants to help fight harmful free radicals that can damage the skin.
Vitamin C is an example of an antioxidant, and it helps fight the signs of aging. For an antioxidant ingredient that has soothing properties, look for aloe vera.
For mature skin, alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid have been shown to be effective in reversing the effects of aging. AHAs stimulate the exfoliation of epidermal cells in the stratum corneum leading to the sloughing off dull skin and promoting cellular renewal. The benefits of AHAs include exfoliation, reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, collagen synthesis, skin lightening, and moisturization.
In addition to AHAs, certain vitamins have also been shown to provide anti-aging benefits. Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, has been shown to improve fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, blotchiness, and elasticity.
Vitamin C, an antioxidant, has been shown to protect the skin from UV-induced damage. Vitamin E, another antioxidant, has been shown to prevent UV-induced skin damage and can also improve moisture content and barrier function of the skin.
Toners can come in different packaging types. The most common ones are screw cap and flip top caps, which often need the use of cotton pads in order to apply. Although quite uncommon, another type is spray bottles, which can also double as a face mist.
There isn’t really a significant advantage of one over the other, so it all comes down to a matter of your preference. Toners can also come in small sizes, which are handy for travel. If you are unsure about a product, you can opt to pick a small size first to make sure you are hiyang to the product.
In general, the choice of the packaging boils down to personal preference! Do what works for you!
Alcohol has gotten a bad rap as an ingredient in skincare and beauty products. While it can instantly mattify your skin and cut through the grease, its long term effects actually increase your oiliness and make you prone to breakouts.
However, not all alcohols are bad. Stearyl, cetyl, and Cetearyl alcohol, often referred to as fatty alcohol, is non-irritating and beneficial for dry skin. Just make sure to read the ingredients list and keep an eye out for the drying kind, including isopropyl, denatured, and SD alcohol.
Steer clear of parabens and fragrances if you have sensitive skin as it can cause possible irritation. When in doubt, you can always do a patch test first to see if your skin has an adverse reaction to it.
It's important to identify what 'harmful ingredients' are. Take alcohols - they have gotten a bad rep over the years, given reports of their negative drying and irritating effects. While this is true, certain types of alcohol are incorporated into skincare products. They act as great penetration enhancers - meaning they allow actives to penetrate better by disrupting the lipid barrier on our skin. Thus, it's difficult to generalize.
At the end of the day, this is where patch testing comes in so that you will find out what works and doesn't work for you!
Here are our top 10 picks of the best Korean toners to help you achieve glowing skin. It doesn't have to sting either!
**Prices may vary depending on the website and their campaign period**
|Key Ingredient||Phyto-Oglio, Hyaluronic Acid, Beta-Glucan, Centella-Asiatica Extract|
|Highlights||Non-Irritating, pH Balanced, Sulfate, Alcohol, Paraben Free, No Harmful Chemicals|
|Key Ingredient||AHA, BHA|
|Highlights||Low pH, Cruelty, Paraben Free, Vegan|
|Key Ingredient||Rose and Lavender Water, Orange Peel, Witch Hazel|
|Key Ingredient||Triple Layer Hyaluronic Acid, French Seawater, Ceramide Complex|
|Skin Type||Oily and Acne Prone|
|Key Ingredient||Milkvetch Root Extract|
|Highlights||Artificial Fragrance, Color, Alcohol-Free, Cruelty and Paraben-Free, Non-Comedogenic, Hypoallergenic|
|Packaging||Flip Top Cap|
|Key Ingredient||Fermented Cicaenzyme, Pearl Reef Extracts, Rice Extracts|
|Highlights||Alcohol, Paraben, Dye, and Mineral Oil Free|
|Skin Type||Dry, Mature|
|Key Ingredient||Super Collagen, White Lupin|
|Highlights||Free of Mineral Oil, Polyacrylamide, Tar Color, and Silicone Oil, Clinically Tested|
|Key Ingredient||Matrimony Vine, Purslane|
|Highlights||Paraben, Cruelty, Sulfate-Free|
|Key Ingredient||Calendula Flower Water, Centella Asiatica Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin|
|Highlights||No Artificial Colors and Fragrances|
|Skin Type||Oily, Combination|
|Key Ingredient||Beauty Green Tea|
Son & Park
Supple Preparation Facial Toner
AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence
Moistfull Collagen Toner
Essential Balancing Water EX
Real Floral Calendula Toner
Green Tea Balancing Skin EX
A Nourishing Toner Suitable for All Skin Types
AHA and BHA Toner to Get Rid of Oil and Blackheads
For the Skincare Product Multitasker
Triple Layer Hyaluronic Acid for Intense Hydration
Perfect for a No-Fuss Skin Care Routine
Thoroughly Cleanses without Being Harsh on Your Skin
Fight Skin Aging with Super Collagen
Provides a Boost of Antioxidants for Mature Skin
Soothe Your Skin with Calendula
A Lightweight Toner That Balances Oily Skin
|Price Starts at||₱1,092||₱553||₱1,000||₱1,990||₱910||₱1,720||₱890||₱2,403||₱800||₱1,090|
|Skin Type||All||Oily||All||Dry||Oily and Acne Prone||Sensitive||Dry, Mature||Mature||All||Oily, Combination|
|Key Ingredient||Phyto-Oglio, Hyaluronic Acid, Beta-Glucan, Centella-Asiatica Extract||AHA, BHA||Rose and Lavender Water, Orange Peel, Witch Hazel||Triple Layer Hyaluronic Acid, French Seawater, Ceramide Complex||Milkvetch Root Extract||Fermented Cicaenzyme, Pearl Reef Extracts, Rice Extracts||Super Collagen, White Lupin||Matrimony Vine, Purslane||Calendula Flower Water, Centella Asiatica Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin||Beauty Green Tea|
|Highlights||Non-Irritating, pH Balanced, Sulfate, Alcohol, Paraben Free, No Harmful Chemicals||Low pH, Cruelty, Paraben Free, Vegan||Multitasking Toner||Dermatologist Tested||Artificial Fragrance, Color, Alcohol-Free, Cruelty and Paraben-Free, Non-Comedogenic, Hypoallergenic||Alcohol, Paraben, Dye, and Mineral Oil Free||Free of Mineral Oil, Polyacrylamide, Tar Color, and Silicone Oil, Clinically Tested||Paraben, Cruelty, Sulfate-Free||No Artificial Colors and Fragrances||Lightweight|
|Packaging||Screw Top||Spray||Screw Top||Screw Top||Flip Top Cap||Screw Top||Screw Top||Screw Top||Screw Top||Screw Top|
You aren't limited to just using toner on your face. Did you know that there are plenty of uses for them as well? Here are some toner hacks that can help you maximize its use.
Did you know that you can use your toner as a face mist? This is handy if you are heading somewhere you would need a quick refresher on your face, say your daily commute. Simply fill half of an empty spray bottle with your toner and dilute it with a bit of mineral water.
Alternatively, the spray method is effective for distributing the toner more evenly to your face. A pro tip is to put your toner in the fridge to help reduce puffiness.
This is one skincare hack, especially if you're on the go. It also comes in handy if you live in a hot, humid area and you just want to spritz your face with a bit of hydration every so often.
Razor burns aren't very pleasant. A good way to soothe them is to use a toner as an aftershave treatment. It is also good for clearing up any residue from your shaving cream and excess hair, which can clog your pores.
Toner is a good way of calming down inflamed skin. Just make sure it is free from potential irritants and harsh astringents to avoid exacerbating your skin's condition.
If you want to get creative, toners can be used as an aftershave treatment - just make sure not to use the alcohol-based or astringent-based ones. This also is a good way to use products that you didn't enjoy on your face - instead of letting them go to waste, use them on your body!
Working from home and online classes can sometimes cause us to get carried away, which means longer hours. This might cause some of you to wake up with puffy under-eye bags. A quick way to de-puff them is to use your toner as an eye mask.
Just cut one cotton round in half - one for each eye and soak them with your toner and apply them under your eyes. It is better if you put the toner in the fridge to make it more soothing.
Using the toner as an eye mask could work, but I'd definitely do a patch test first before going straight at it. Remember, the skin under the eyes is the thinnest skin of the body, and thus, may be prone to irritation more than other areas.
Finding the product the will suit your skin type and needs might be a challenge, so let Dr. Katrina educate you as she answers some of the most asked questions on the web.
Newer toners include brightening toners or "active-infused" toners, which may contain active ingredients targeted at specific skin concerns. It would be best to consult a board-certified dermatologist on this because there are many different types of pimple marks - red ones (post-inflammatory erythema) or dark ones (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Each one would need to be approached differently!
This would actually depend on a number of factors - what's your skin type? what type of toner are you using?
Cotton pads act as a physical exfoliant - meaning rubbing with a cotton pad can physically remove rough bumps or debris on the skin. This may work if that's your goal. However, it can also inadvertently cause irritation for someone with a more sensitive skin type. Not to mention, if you're using an exfoliating toner then using a cotton pad will add to the overall exfoliation.
Best to ask your dermatologist for advice on this to suit your skin type and skin concerns!
Remember, more is not always better. Just use a small amount enough to pat onto the whole face!
A good approach in developing a skincare routine is identifying your skin concern - is it texture? Hyperpigmentation? Dryness? Then develop a skincare routine targeted to your skin concerns.
Toners are not a must! But they can help achieve certain goals for your skin, not to mention add an extra step of self-pampering.
When in doubt, ask your dermatologist!
Fancy having glass skin? Here are some Korean skin care products that you can try to achieve that desired glass skin effect.
Toners are an overlooked skin care product because of the misconceptions about its astringent effects. On the contrary, it is actually a great way of removing excess dirt, balancing your skin's pH levels, and offering hydration. Don't be scared of picking up a bottle of toner, you're missing out on its benefits!
Author: Justine Cuizon
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