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Should I Use a Toner?

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Updated June 19, 2014

Facial Toner
James And James Collection/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Question: Should I Use a Toner?
I've never really used a toner before, but my friend swears I should use one every day. What is toner used for, and am I harming my skin by not using a toner?
Answer:

Like many skin care questions, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The decision to use a toner depends on many factors, including the type of products you're currently using on your face and your own personal preference.

First, let's clarify what a toner is and what it is used for. Toners are applied to the skin with a cotton ball or pad, just after cleansing and before moisturizing. Toners are said to remove traces of dirt, makeup, cleanser residue and excess oil.

Nearly every skin care line carries a toning product. Astringents or clarifiers are usually meant for oilier skin types. Fresheners, balancers or bracers are designed for those with dry skin. They aren't as astringent and may contain moisturizing ingredients.

Should you use a toner? That depends. A lot of toners are high in alcohol or other ingredients that can be drying. Using a toner can exacerbate dryness associated with many topical acne treatments (such as Retin-A, BenzaClin or other topical antibiotics). So if you're using drying acne treatments, it is probably wise to forgo the toner. You may even find using a toner worsens your breakouts, and if you have moderate to severe inflammatory acne or cystic acne, toner may burn or sting when applied.

A common belief is that toners are needed to close the pores. This simply isn't true. Pores aren't like doors; they don't open and close. Bottom line: Toner is not a skin care necessity.

If you like the way toner makes your skin feel and can't imagine going without one, use it and love it. Choose one that isn't high in alcohol and doesn't leave your skin feeling too dry. If you'd rather not use a toner, though, rest easy knowing you're not doing your skin a disservice.

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  5. Should I Use a Toner for My Face? - Q&A

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