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What is a toner anyway?

what is a toner

What is a toner anyway? 

What is a toner? Should I be using one? and if so, why should I use it?

facial toner


Toners (or tonic water as it was originally called) were designed to be used after cleansing the face. It’s purpose to remove any cleanser residue or anything else that the cleanser didn’t remove. Toners are typically water based and have beneficial added ingredients to assist in preparing your skin for the next step in your skincare regime, typically the application of a serum or moisturiser.

You’ve no doubt seen these words – toner, floral water, astringent, tonic, skin freshener, spritzer, mist, facial spray on bottles in your search for a facial toner.  You may have noticed also that toners range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. What’s the difference? What toner is best for you and your skin type?



First – a little bit of toner history. 

Tonic water came into vogue around the 1900 and was created to soothe the nerves, firm the skin, fight blemishes and close the pores. The most common toners were alcohol, witch-hazel, tincture of benzion and glycerine. All of these ingredients possess antiseptic properties. Some floral water was also added to the toner and scent included to make the concoction smell nice and colour added to make it look pretty, typically pink.  You may recall years ago seeing beautiful glass bottles your Grandma may have had that had sitting on her dresser in a beautiful soft colour with a lovely floral aroma – that was her toner!

facial toner

Ladies soon discovered if you had dry skin then toners with alcohol didn’t work as effectively and those with combination, oily skin, this skin type responded better to the alcohol based toners.  As time went on moisturisers were introduced in the skincare world and toners gradually became less popular.

Nowadays we appreciate the value of a good toner and that it plays an important role in our skin care regime by doing the following….

  • It can balance the pH of your skin.
  • Refresh and hydrate the skin.
  • Help smooth the appearance of the skin.
  • Re-balance and tone the skin.
  • Remove residual debris.
  • Sweeps away any impurities, debris and grime the cleanser didn’t get.
  • Work on the health of the epidermis of the skin by thoroughly removing dead skin cells.
  • It adds another layer of protection to your skin as they are antioxidant rich they help protect your skin against daily environmental stressors.

How to use a toner? 

Toner application is simple, quick yet a highly effective step in your skincare routine. Typically there are two methods of application. The Cotton Pad or the Spray method.

  1. The Cotton Pad method.  Dampen a cotton ball or pad with water.  Spray the toner onto the cotton pad and then wipe the pad over the skin in firm, upward strokes.  Ensure you wipe over your entire face, paying attention to any problem areas, T zone, cheeks, forehead, jawline, chin etc
  2. The Spray Method. Spray the toner directly onto your face and press into the skin with clean hands and fingertips refreshing and soothing the skin.

I personally find the Cotton Pad method very effective as it removes any excess grime and residue after cleansing and evenly balances and preps the skin for the next product application.  Spraying the face is still effective, I find the Spray method ideal to do throughout the day to instantly hydrate, refresh and balance the skin. Spraying your skin with floral water throughout the day is a great way to keep your skin hydrated and as a bonus floral waters can be used under or over makeup.

Which toner should I use? 

We stock only natural, alcohol free toners.  Lavender water, Rosewater and alcohol free Witch-hazel.  All three of these toners are mild, gentle yet highly effective on the skin, they are rich in antioxidants making them suitable for all skin types.

Normal to combination, oily skin responds well to something a little more astringent, yet still hydrating, refreshing and balancing. A toner that has antiseptic properties to help kill bacteria and heal the skin.  Our alcohol free Witch-hazel is ideal for this skin type as is our gentle and mild Lavender Floral Water. Both are good choices.

Normal to sensitive skin is generally inflamed and irritates easily so needs something to soothe, nourish and calm the skin. Our gentle and skin smoothing Rosewater is a lovely gentle toner ideal for all skin types, especially suited to those with dry, sensitive, irritated and inflamed skin.

Normal to mature, dry, ageing skin benefits from using a toner to help hydrate, soften and soothe the skin in preparation for the application of serum and moisturiser. Our Rosewater Floral Water  or Lavender Floral Water are ideal for this skin type as both are a mild astringent yet have powerful antioxidant properties which are beneficial for the skin.

Rosewater Floral Water

So is a toner needed?

Well, not necessarily but it is definitely recommended. If you have not used a toner before and decide to introduce it into your skincare regime you will most definitely notice the difference and soon be thankful you’ve included it.  You’ll notice how much more cleaner and balanced your skin feels after using a toner after you’ve cleansed.  You will then notice how well your moisturiser glides on and penetrates into your skin and finally you will notice how fresh and nourished your skin feels in the morning when you wake up.

I most definitely recommend including a toner into your skincare regime.


Do you use a toner? Yes, No? Love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks so much for reading and if you have any questions about toners or anything skincare related, please reach out, love to connect.

Until next time, bye for now,

Michelle x x

Getting myself ready for an at-home facial after bath time with my daughter.