5 Toner Hacks You Should Know
Ah, the bad old days as a teenager when we’d wash our faces with a harsh micro-bead cleanser, and follow it up with a swipe from a toner-soaked cotton ball. Cue the familiar, tight feeling we thought meant all the excess oil was gone and we would wake to find that pimple on our forehead had dried out.
Gone are the days where using toner meant using an alcohol-laden liquid that made your skin feel parched afterwards. Toners are now multi-tasking products that do so much more than dry out acne. They can be hydrating, balancing, exfoliating, and brightening. In fact, using a toner can help prep your skin for other products, maximizing the efficiency of everything else in your lineup.
Here are some of the ways toners can be used as more than just “Step 3” of your skincare routine.
1- Use Your Toner As A Hydrator
Have you ever heard of the “7 Skin” routine? This skincare trend involved repeatedly layering a watery toner on and using it to hydrate skin instead of a heavier cream. And while 7 isn’t a magic number, you can try layering your toner to achieve lightweight hydration. It’s always best to approach new routines slowly, so you may want to start with just a few layers at first to gauge how your skin will react.
After double-cleansing, apply a light layer of toner. Let it dry, (pick something that absorbs quickly or this could take a while) and apply the next layer. Continue until you’ve put on as many layers as you wanted.
It’s important to note that you’ll want to avoid using a toner that has strong exfoliants or peeling properties, as you don’t want to end up over-exfoliating and hurting your skin barrier (ouch!). You’ll also want to stay away from irritants like alcohol, artificial colours, and fragrances. Even though you might normally be able to tolerate small amounts of those ingredients, layering them multiple times will mean you’ll be putting more than usual on your face and you don’t want to end up with a nasty skin reaction.
2- Use Your Toner To Dilute Other Products
Have you ever used an exfoliating scrub and cringed as the first layer scraped across your face? Many skincare lines will suggest adding a little water to partially dissolve the particles or help them slip more easily over your skin. Try adding a few drops of your favourite toner to the exfoliant instead. A watery toner has the right texture to smooth out rough scrubs and help you apply them evenly.
Found a good product but feel like it’s too strong for you? Using a toner to dilute the active ingredients may help to reduce chances of irritation. Similarly, you can use a toner to dilute a new product you’re trying if you’re not sure how your skin will react. You can also mix it with a heavier product (like a moisturizing cream) to lighten it up.
In these cases, a toner that is balancing or hydrating works well. Avoid anything with strong actives (like acids) as they could clash with active ingredients in your other product, cancelling out their good effects, or worse.
3- Use Your Toner As A Face Mist
Have you ever been halfway through a scorching hot day or a stressful workday and noticed your skin looking noticeably tired? Facial mists are a great way to help revitalize, brighten, and hydrate skin. While misting with water may help you cool down, it doesn’t have the same benefits as a face mist, and may actually dry your skin in the long run.
Making your own face mist is as easy as pouring a little toner into a small spritz bottle and popping it in your bag. Here are some different ingredients you might want in your toner, depending on what you’d like your face mist to do:
- A toner made with aloe leaf water will have a lovely cooling effect, perfect for a hot day, or if you’ve gotten a bit too much sun.
- Choosing a toner that contains antioxidants (like hibiscus or green tea extract) will also help protect your skin against pollution and damaging free radicals.
- If you’re prone to irritation and redness, pick a toner with calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients like rose or ginseng.
- For serious moisture, try cactus seed oil.
- If your skin gets oily or is acne-prone, calendula and camellia are both great, calming choices.
4- Use Your Toner As A DIY Eye or Sheet Mask
This is a great idea if you’re traveling and are already having trouble zipping up your toiletries bag, or if you find you skin in need of a pick-me-up but don’t have a sheet/eye mask on hand. Get yourself a couple of facial cotton pads, soak them in your favourite toner, and apply them wherever they’re needed. If you use a round pad, you can cut it in half (you’ll have two semi-circles) so they fit under your eye. Leave on for a few minutes, letting the toner soak into your skin. The pad will help prevent evaporation so it really has a chance to work.
Again, make sure you’re using a toner you know your skin tolerates well, as you’ll be leaving it on your skin for longer than usual. A hydrating toner is perfect in this case, and can give your skin the boost it needs if it’s stressed or dry.
5- Use Your Toner As An Exfoliant
There’s a good chance you don’t exfoliate every single day, or that you only do it on a as-need basis. If you’re worried about how your sensitive skin may react to a physical exfoliant and need something extra gentle, you can try using a toner with exfoliating ingredients. Papaya extract or acids are popular ingredients for buffing dead skin and de-clogging pores without scrubbing particles.
If you want to add a little physical exfoliation, put a small amount of toner on a textured cotton pad and massage your skin gently.
Exfoliating toners often contain other helpful ingredients which help balance the pH of your skin, and help it absorb other products. They’re also super fast to use (for those looking to shave some time off your routine) and tend to absorb quickly, with no massaging needed.
Toners are easy and fast products to use. Don’t limit them to one step in your skincare routine, as they can fill in for other products in a pinch, and are excellent multitaskers when traveling. Find a toner that works for you, and try expanding what you use it for - you’ll be pleasantly surprised!