Every skin care expert recommends using a toner after cleansing. Toner must be part of your morning routine for your skin, getting it ready to start your day on a fresh note. Toners have been in high demand since 1980.
However, its purpose needs to be better understood by many. There also needs to be more clarity about whether to use a regular toner or an exfoliating toner.
So, keep reading if you want to know more about toners and exfoliating toners.
Regular Toner Vs. Exfoliating Toner
The difference between a regular toner and exfoliating toner is simple: Exfoliating toners exfoliate the skin, while regular toners help to refresh the skin.
It is crucial to neutralize the skin with toner after washing it to extract remnants of grime, dust, and oil to keep the skin free from acidic particles. Cleansers are responsible for making the pH acidic, so using toners aid in balancing it.
A toner is an absorbing liquid that conveniently removes additional oil and dust, also acts as a good makeup base by refining pores, and lowers the acidic pH to around 5.5. (1) There’s no doubt that toners are an effective solution for acne-prone skin.
Exfoliating toners contain fruit enzymes, lactic acids, or hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid. They not only help to get rid of dead skin cells but also increase the production of collagen and the division of new skin cells.
In addition, exfoliating toners keep the pores clean, and the poly-hydroxy or lactic acid in them prevents cracking of the skin and hydrates it well while being gentle on the skin. (1)
Toners Are Ideal for Acne-Prone and Oily Skin
Face toners can work as a cleanser after cleansing the face with a face wash to eliminate extra sebum on facial skin. (2)
Also, toners are helpful if you have acne-prone and oily skin. Small studies have demonstrated that toners are an effective solution for acne-prone skin. (1)
Exfoliating Toners Are Ideal for Combination, Mild, Oily, and Dry Skin
According to research and beauty specialists, exfoliation toners are best for combination, mild, and oily skin as they irritate sensitive and dry skin, while regular toners are suitable for acne-prone skin. Also, exfoliating toners are used and preferred more than regular toners.
However, toners that contain gentle exfoliating acids can also benefit sensitive and dry skin types. The toners with poly-hydroxy acid and lactic acid are chemical exfoliants and can be used on sensitive skin as they are mild exfoliants in nature.
Some types of exfoliating acids in toners that are helpful for sensitive and dry skin types are mandelic acid (3) and salicylic acid. (4)
Uses of Regular Toners
Toners can do wonders for your skin. Some of the things they do are:
- Closes and cleans your pores thoroughly
- Eliminates last traces of excess makeup, oil, and dust
- Aids in restoring the pH balance of the skin and cares for the skin
- Adds a protective layer to the skin
- Prepares the skin to absorb moisturizer properly
- Can be used every day and aids in restoring the texture of the skin (4)(5)
- Relaxes and refreshes the skin
- Evens out and calms skin tone
Uses of Exfoliating Toners
The main advantage of an exfoliating toner for the skin is that it helps restore its acidity level to balance its pH. It also helps in fading hyperpigmentation marks, skin brightening, clearing breakouts, and purifying pores.
Here are some other things an exfoliating toner does for your skin:
- Removes dead skin cells
- Eliminates excess/dead keratinocytes/corneocytes (cells that make up the outer layer of human skin)
- Stimulates cell turnover that results in a smooth, polished, and translucent skin surface (3)
Homemade Natural Regular Toners
Toning is necessary to keep your skin youthful and tight. Here are some DIY toner recipes you can follow so you never run out of toner.
1. Rose petal + aloe vera gel extract toner
Freeze-dried extract of aloe vera is a natural and effective ingredient that can improve wrinkles, hydration of skin, (8) and elasticity in photoaged human skin. (9)
Together, aloe vera and rose petals can improve the immune function of the skin.
How to use:
- In a spray bottle add rose water and fresh aloe vera extract.
- Shake the bottle to mix both ingredients properly.
- Spritz the rose face toner over your neck and face. Allow it to soak well, and wash it off with normal water.
2. Cucumber facial toner
The juice of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is an anti-inflammatory agent and moisturizer that tightens, soothes, softens, and nourishes the skin.
When used in a scrub, it aids in eliminating dead skin cells, dust, and impurities by gently unclogging pores. It also helps in keeping the skin clean, fresh, healthy, blemish-free, and hydrated. (5)
How to use:
- Mix aloe vera gel and cucumber juice in a bowl until it reaches a runny consistency, you can also mix honey.
- Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and the toner is ready to use. Refrigerate and use this mixture when needed to tone your face, you can also use it before applying a moisturizer, just spray it on your face, slightly dab it, if you feel sticky then you can wash it off after 5–10 minutes, then apply a moisturizer, otherwise you can put moisturizer on.
Note: You can use this toner regularly for up to 3–4 days. Do not store it for more than 4 days. Make it fresh when needed.
Homemade Natural Exfoliating Toners
1. Papaya juice (Carica papaya) exfoliating toner
Papaya (Carica papaya) can be used to make an exfoliating toner. One of its active enzymes is papain, which is an exfoliant and antimicrobial.
Papaya extract aids in exfoliating the skin, promoting wound healing or injury, and decreasing edema. (10)
How to use:
- Cut a freshly ripe papaya into two, remove the seeds, and scoop out the papaya flesh.
- Cut the papaya flesh into little pieces and put it in a juicer or mixer to extract the juice.
- Add 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the juice and mix properly with a spoon for 2–3 minutes.
- Pour the mixture into an airtight bottle and store it in the refrigerator.
- You can use the toner in 7–9 days. After that, you can make a new one as they get spoiled fast since they are chemical-free. Just spray the toner on your cleansed face, slightly rub it then wash it off after 10 minutes, and apply a moisturizer.
2. Pineapple extract + vitamin C tablet exfoliating toner
Pineapple (Ananas comosus) extract can promote skin elasticity, remove dead and damaged cells from the skin, and improve skin hydration. It contains enzymes such as bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties that help in achieving a clear complexion. (10)
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that aids in decreasing wrinkles and improving the skin’s overall health. (11)
How to use:
- Add pineapple juice and water in an equal ratio to a clean and small bottle.
- Crush one vitamin C tablet and add it to the bottle.
- Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients properly.
- Using a cotton pad, apply the toner to cleansed skin.
This toner is gentle enough to use daily. It will lessen large open pores, prevent breakouts, and decrease oiliness and shine.
3. Witch hazel exfoliating toner
Exfoliating toners containing witch hazel aid in eliminating extra oil without leaving skin irritated or dry. (12)
Witch hazel is astringent and a potent antioxidant, making it a great natural remedy for blistered or cracked skin, eczema, or psoriasis. (13)
How to use:
- Wash your face correctly and then pat it dry with a soft cloth.
- Apply the formulation of witch hazel toner.
- Apply a serum or moisturizing cream.
General Queries Related to Regular and Exfoliating Toners
What type of toner is ideal for me?
If you have a dry or normal skin type, use a hydrating toner as it soothes dryness, leaving your skin smooth and soft. If you have sensitive skin, use a specially formulated toner to calm aggravated skin and soothe redness.
Is it okay to use exfoliating toner daily?
Exfoliating toners are an aqueous solution of chemical exfoliators (e.g., AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs). The frequency of application also depends on the strength of the exfoliating toner.
Excessive acid can harm the skin, but once your skin is used to it, you can apply the exfoliating toner two to three times a week.
Toners help rebalance your skin’s pH after cleansing and exfoliating the skin. It provides your skin with a protective layer and primes it to better absorb the products that you will apply next. You can go for either a regular toner or exfoliating toner.
- (PDF) protecting and resolving facial skin from UV rays … – researchgate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/355263699/.
- Anti-sebum efficacy of the emblica toners on forehead and cheek skins … https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Anti-sebum-efficacy-of-the-emblica-toners-on-forehead- and-cheek-skins-of-treatment_fig1_347054723.
- Rodan K, Fields K, Majewski G, Falla T. Skincare bootcamp: The evolving role of Skincare. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5172479/. Published December 14, 2016.
- Exfoliation for sensitive skin with neutralized salicylic acid? https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229948595/.
- Formulation and physical characterization of herbal face Gel Toner. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353584527/.
- Song YR; Lim WC; Han A; Lee MH; Shin EJ; Lee KM; Nam TG; Lim TG; Rose Petal Extract (Rosa Gallica) exerts skin whitening and anti-skin wrinkle effects. Journal of medicinal food. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32609563/.
- Lee MH; Nam TG; Lee I; Shin EJ; Han AR; Lee P; Lee SY; Lim TG; Skin anti-inflammatory activity of Rose Petal Extract (Rosa Gallica) through reduction of MAPK signaling pathway. Food science & nutrition. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30510758/.
- PM; DBSEGLRMC. Moisturizing effect of cosmetic formulations containing aloe vera extract in different concentrations assessed by skin bioengineering techniques. Skin research and technology: official journal of International Society for Bioengineering and the Skin (ISBS) [and] International Society for Digital Imaging of Skin (ISDIS) [and] International Society for Skin Imaging (ISSI). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17026654/.
- Cho S, Lee S, Lee M-J, et al. Dietary aloe vera supplementation improves facial wrinkles and elasticity and it increases the type I procollagen gene expression in human skin in vivo. Annals of dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883372/. Published February 2009.
- (PDF) skin care with herbal exfoliants – researchgate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224892687/.
- Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/. Published August 12, 2017.
- Rodan K, Fields K, Falla TJ. Efficacy of a twice-daily, 3-step, over-the-counter skincare regimen for the treatment of Acne Vulgaris. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5221538/. Published January 4, 2017.
- Trüeb RM. North American Virginian Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): Based Scalp Care and protection for sensitive scalp, red scalp, and scalp burn-out. International journal of trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158622/. Published July 2014.