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Toner: Should Women Skip It?

Should everyone use toner? Here's how to decide. Choose the best toner for your skin type and beauty needs.

Do You Need to Use Toner?

Wash. Tone. Moisturize. Those three steps have formed the basic pre-cosmetics beauty routine of women everywhere for decades. Actually, more like centuries, because the first use of toner-like astringent products began centuries ago when women were urged to add a few drops of eau de cologne to their morning bowl of wash water as a skin tonic.

Toners really came back into vogue during the eighties, as acne-prone teens everywhere held their breath, prepared for the sting, and swiped their tortured skin with cotton balls dipped in harsh liquid, and other similarly bracing products.

But as we mature and outgrow the acne, do we really still need this additional step in our grooming process? Do our pores really need the serious oil-stripping that they required during our attempts to clear up a breakout before prom? Can toners still benefit our skin, or are we wasting our time or—worse—doing more harm than good?

Toners of Today

Many people began to eliminate toners from their grooming and beauty routines when their acne cleared up, and they began to see the drying, astringent qualities of toners as unnecessary and even harmful. But it’s important to note that the toner products of today are much different than the toners we used during our teen years.

According to dermatologists, today’s toners are much more diverse than the one-tone toners of the past which were marketed to clear and shrink pores and prevent acne outbreaks. Today you can find a toner to suit the individual needs of your skin. Toner can be an important step toward skin repair for many different skin types.

Toner and Acne: Still Your Biggest Weapon

According to New York dermatologists, Toner is still an important first step in controlling skin breakouts. Toners now include ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids to exfoliate acne-prone young skin, nourishing antioxidant formulas for adults, and moisturizing toners with vitamin E, aloe, and other anti-inflammatory ingredients for sensitive skin, and even retinoids and other anti-aging compounds for mature skin.

While most dermatologists agree that their main reason for recommending toner as part of a skin regimen is for their patients with acne, toners are now being recommended for their more tailored ingredients for other skin needs. It’s important to note that most dermatologists no longer recommend toner products that contain alcohol, which is too drying even for those suffering from acne. Using an alcohol-based toner can over-strip your skin of oils and cause sebum production to go into overdrive in order to compensate.

What to Look for in Today’s Toners

Most skincare experts agree that toner should not be skipped as part of the skincare process, because a good toner can meet the individual needs of your skin if you know what to look for and what to avoid.

Every good toner should include a cleansing property to remove residue, dead skin cells, and anything else left behind by your facewash.

A toner should also prep your pores, by opening them enough to get your skin ready to receive the benefits of the serum or moisturizer that you plan to apply next.

A toner should also restore the optimal PH balance of your skin, which can be disrupted by cosmetic products.

Toners should also soothe your skin with anti-inflammatory properties to reduce irritation. Many of today’s toners do this with natural plant extracts.

Your toner should be marketed for your age group. Older, more mature skin has vastly different needs than adolescent or young skin. Make sure you are choosing an age-appropriate toner that offers your skin the nourishment it needs.

Finally, a good toner will offer your skin the much-needed moisturization and hydration, preferably with natural plant oils, or ingredients to help lock hydration into your skin.

Toners containing alcohol should always be avoided. If your toner stings, it’s too astringent and you should skip it, or shop for one better suited for your needs.

It’s important that we look past the bad reputation that the toners of yesterday received for their drying, alcohol-loaded, and strongly astringent properties, and re-evaluate the toners of today that are much better suited to the skin needs of each individual and age group.

Resources— Plum, Bioelements, HuffPost, Stemology

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