18 of the Best Face Toners to try in 2022

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

01.07.22DISCLAIMER
Best bet. The Carrot & Stick skincare bundle worth up to $240 for $88. Details below

When you think about the best face toner, what comes to mind? Many of us recall our acne-ridden teenage days when we’d swipe a toner-soaked cotton ball over the face with the hope of getting rid of pimples and large pores. Not only was it possible that your skin became worse, but the toner probably stung and left your face feeling tight and dry. 

Well, good news. Toners have come a long way and they’re actually a completely different and — necessary — part of any skincare routine. Good toners help remove any leftover traces of dirt, oil, makeup, and sunscreen. 

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2022?

Today, the best toner for oily skin removes excess oil without stripping the skin. If breakouts are a concern, the best toner for acne is formulated with salicylic acid to target pimples and unclog pores. Even those with a parched complexion can find the best toner for dry skin that contains nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

Not sure where to find these skin-changing elixirs? Look no further. Here at the Derm Review, we’ve reviewed hundreds of products with a scientific lens to ensure you’re creating a skincare routine that’s safe and effective. 

Ahead, 18 toners to hydrate, purify, and prep your complexion.

Best Face Toner: The List

BEST OVERALL

BEST: Carrot & Stick The Toner, $40

Best bet. The Carrot & Stick skincare bundle worth up to $240 for $88. Select 3 products, including our favorite Carrot & Stick The Toner. Use code DERM20 for 20% off.

FULL LIST

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, $99

La Mer The Tonic, $95

Erno Laszlo Light Controlling Lotion, $55

Best Toner for Dry Skin 

HADA LABO Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Toner, $15

Lancôme Tonique Confort Rehydrating Comforting Toner, $58

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner, $22.99

Best Toner for Acne 

Murad Acne Control Clarifying Toner, $26

SkinCeuticals LHA Toner, $40

Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizer, $60

Best Toner for Sensitive Skin

ZO Calming Toner, $37

Avene Gentle Toning Lotion, $20

Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner, $36

Best Toner for Combination Skin

Clinique Clarifying Lotions (1-3), $29

Caudalie Beauty Elixir, $49

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber, and Green Tea, $12

The Science Behind Face Toners

Unlike other skincare products like peels and serums, there’s nothing overly scientific regarding face toners. Quite simply, a toner is a fast-penetrating liquid that helps to recalibrate the skin’s pH so that it’s calm and balanced after cleansing. Research tells us that variable skin pH values are all in the acidic range but with a broad spectrum from pH 4.0 to 7.0. However, on average, natural skin surface pH is below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora.

Toners can also provide the skin with a quick hit of hydration, remove dead skin cells, balance oil production, help clear breakouts, and soothe sensitized skin. 

Ingredients to Avoid in a Toner

Even though toners have evolved for the better over the years, some formulations on the market still contain ingredients that can strip the skin of its natural oils, which will only cause increased oil production because that’s the skin’s method of defense. This reaction can lead to breakouts and irritation. When shopping for the best toner, avoid: 

  • Alcohol-based toners: Often, these also contain ingredients that tighten the skin. These toners can damage and irritate your skin. Using them makes it more difficult for your skin to heal itself and produce healthy collagen.
  • Strongly scented toners: These formulas are often labeled “refreshing” or “purifying,” but in reality, they are acting more as cologne for your face. Strongly-scented toners like these may cause reactions that are damaging to your skin.

Best Toner By Skin Type

Unfortunately, because toners of the past have given toners, in general, a bad reputation, many consumers have been hesitant about adding this product into their skincare routine. Even so, the global skin toner market size is expected to reach USD 900.6 million by 2025, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc., expanding at a CAGR of 4.7% over the forecast period. 

The market expansion is attributed to the growing demand among teenagers for products that help keep skin pimple-free and offer protection against rising pollution. 

The best toners do everything an excellent all-around toner should do. Think of them as the all-stars. They remove traces of dirt and makeup and restore the skin’s pH balance. A good toner will also help unclog pores and exfoliate dead skin cells, leaving behind refreshed and glowing skin. A swipe of toner can also help protect the skin, thanks to antioxidants.

BEST OVERALL

BEST: Carrot & Stick The Toner, $40

Replenishes skin with potent antioxidants, hydrating hyaluronic acid and myriad plant extracts. By harnessing the antioxidant properties of CoQ10, it supports the production of collagen and elastin, promoting the look of smoother skin.

FULL LIST

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, $99
SK-II’s signature- and best-selling- product contains over 90 percent pitera, a by-product of yeast fermentation that includes minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. The essence is meant to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots while improving skin texture. Sprinkle a small amount in your hand and press the essence gently on your face and neck.

La Mer The Tonic, $95
This soothing toner contains marine extracts and helps to balance the complexion after cleansing. La Mer The Tonic includes the brand’s signature Miracle Broth, a blend of hand-harvested sea kelp which nourishes and hydrates skin. Skin is left feeling soothed and calm.

Erno Laszlo Light Controlling Lotion, $55
Just because you’re oily doesn’t mean you can’t experience dryness, too. Erno’s tonifying lotion gently exfoliates and reduces surface oil, while anti-inflammatory botanicals like tree moss extract calm a sensitized and irritated complexion and promote tissue repair. 

Best Toner for Dry Skin 

Many people think that toners are best suited for those with oily skin. But that is far from the case, especially if you’ve ever washed your face and it felt so dry and tight you couldn’t wait to apply a moisturizer. While toners help get rid of traces of dirt and grime, they also help rebalance the skin and leave it glowing.

The best toner for dry skin can help exfoliate dead skin cells, revealing fresh, glowing skin with improved texture. Additionally, it can lock in moisture, thanks to ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and skin-soothing rose petals. Toners formulated for dry skin can also help calm skin that has redness and inflammation.

HADA LABO Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Toner, $15
Hada Labo is one of Japan’s most popular drugstore brands, and the Goku-Jyun toner has achieved cult status for anyone with dry skin (just check out the Reddit reviews). The liquid should be dispensed into the hand before patting it onto the face. It contains three different types of hyaluronic acid to help attract and hold water, leaving skin looking plump and hydrated.

Lancôme Tonique Confort Rehydrating Comforting Toner, $58
Honey and sweet almond extract are two critical ingredients in Lancome’s Tonique Confort Rehydrating toner. Skin is left feeling soft, clean, and full of moisture. Apply to a cotton pad and gently swipe across the face. The toner does not contain any alcohol, making it a good choice for those with dry, sensitive skin, too.

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner, $22.99
This hydrating toner from Fresh is infused with real rose petals to soothe and nourish the skin. The Rose Deep Hydration Toner gently wipes away any traces of dirt from the face while leaving it balanced and refreshed. Thanks to Angelica leaf extract and hyaluronic acid, it’s also profoundly hydrating.

Best Toner for Acne 

This category could also be called the best toner for oily skin. Anyone with acne-prone and oily skin should make toner an essential step in their skincare routine. A toner specially formulated for oily skin will contain ingredients meant to reduce oil production and minimize the appearance of pores.

Many toners for oily skin contain witch hazel, a natural astringent. A few swipes of toner can help whisk away impurities and unclog pores. To help keep acne under control, choose a toner with an exfoliating acid — look for glycolic and salicylic acid in the ingredients.

Murad Acne Control Clarifying Toner, $26
Murad’s Clarifying toner helps to reduce excess oil and refresh acne-prone skin. Witch hazel is the heavy lifter here, a natural astringent that helps clean skin and tighten pores. Algae extract regulates excess sebum production, leaving skin balanced and refreshed.

SkinCeuticals LHA Toner, $40
Oily, acne-prone skin is no match for the LHA Toner from Skinceuticals. This toner is ideal for aging skin — because breakouts can pop up at any age. It’s formulated with three different types of acids to get rid of dead skin cells gently, unclog pores, and fight acne — lipo-hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid all target breakouts. The low pH of the toner means skin will feel refreshed rather than dry and tight.

Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizer, $60
As the word “intensive” suggests, Perricone MD’s pore minimizing toner is more like a treatment product. Not only does it control the oil production that leads to excess shine and breakouts, but it also works progressively to strengthen the pore walls to make it more difficult for dirt and grime to become trapped. Bonus: DMAE and alpha-lipoic acid tone the complexion while salicylic acid sweeps away dead skin cells. Think of this toner as a facial in a bottle. 

Best Toner for Sensitive Skin

All toners are not created equally, and anyone with sensitive skin needs to choose wisely. Skin that may already be irritated can be calmed and soothed with the proper toner. Look for ingredients such as aloe vera, witch hazel, and chamomile. These gentle, plant-based ingredients can combat redness and treat inflammation. A toner formulated for sensitive skin will also condition and restore its pH balance.

ZO Calming Toner, $37
ZO’s Calming Toner contains witch hazel, which helps to whisk away skin impurities gently. Pores are left cleaner and look smaller. This gentle toner is packed with moisturizing and hydrating ingredients to help soothe the complexion and balance the skin’s pH levels.

Avene Gentle Toning Lotion, $20
This alcohol and oil-free toner from Avene is ideal for sensitive skin. It’s created with spring water and contains natural silicates to help protect the complexion. Skin is left with the correct pH balance and feels softer and smoother.

Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner, $36
This alcohol-free toner is so gentle it can be applied after cleansing or spritzed on the face to refresh the skin and give it a little extra glow. Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner contains extracts of apricot, quillaja wood, and sweet Betty flower. Skin is left refreshed and soothed, as well as balanced. 

Best Toner for Combination Skin

Combination skin can be tricky to treat. After cleansing, some areas of the face may feel dry while others look (and feel) oily. This is where toner comes in. The best toners for combination skin are multi-taskers, which help eliminate any traces of dirt but are gentle enough for dry patches. 

Select a toner with natural acne fighters such as witch hazel and gentle acids to eliminate dead skin cells. Moisturizing ingredients such as rose water and aloe vera are also vital.

Clinique Clarifying Lotions (1-3), $29
Clinique offers three different toners depending on skin type and issues to be addressed. Clarifying Lotion 1 helps whisk away dead skin cells and preps skin for moisturizer. Lotion 2 is designed for dry/combination skin, while Lotion 3 is meant for oily/combination skin.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir, $49
This cult favorite for finicky skin has been around for a long time — and with good reason. Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir is infused with rosemary, mint, and organic rose oil to help soothe and refresh skin. Skin is left looking hydrated and more radiant, thanks to grape extract. Apply after cleansing or throughout the day for a quick pick me up — it’s also an excellent travel companion. 

Mario BadescuFacial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber, and Green Tea, $12
Mario Badescu’s facial spray is packed with the power of plants to help revive skin throughout the day and after cleansing. Aloe vera and cucumber help soothe the skin and add moisture, while green tea is a powerful antioxidant.

Best Toner: The Bottom Line

What’s the best toner?

Overall, we suggest Carrot & Stick The Toner.

Toners have come a long way, and they’re a completely different and — necessary — part of any skincare routine. Quite simply, a toner is a fast-penetrating liquid that helps to recalibrate the skin’s pH so that it’s calm and balanced after cleansing. Toners can also provide the skin with a quick hit of hydration, remove dead skin cells, balance oil production, help clear breakouts, and soothe sensitized skin. 

Even though toners have evolved for the better over the years, some formulations on the market contain ingredients that can strip the skin of its natural oils, which will only cause increased oil production because that’s the skin’s method of defense. This reaction can lead to breakouts and irritation. When shopping for the best toner, avoid alcohol-based toners and strongly scented toners and look for formulas designed with your skin type in mind. 

What’s the best face toner, in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below!

FAQs
You can think of astringent as a more potent form of toner. Astringents are more likely to contain a higher alcohol concentration (like SD alcohol or denatured alcohol) than toners, which is not an ingredient we recommend. With that said, toners are a more desirable, skin-friendly choice.
Providing your skin can tolerate the formulation, toners can be used twice daily after cleansing. However, if your skin gets dry or irritated quickly, try once a day or every other day.
Toner is meant to absorb quickly and be left on— much like an astringent (which we don’t recommend) or micellar water.
It’s best to apply toner to a dry face, especially if using a pH-balancing toner. After cleansing, to use toner properly, pat your face dry or dry it with a light towel. There’s no need to dry your face after toning; simply move on to your next step — which ideally should be a serum.
Not only can you, but it’s also vital to apply moisturizer after toner — but again, after a serum. It helps your skin absorb and retain moisture better than before.
The alcohol found in toners can trigger rosacea or exacerbate sensitive skin. It can also trigger an overproduction of oil, which increases the risk of breakouts in acne-prone skin. For this reason, we suggest using alcohol-free toners that are formulated with the addition of skin-soothing, balancing ingredients — even if you’re targeting acne. Otherwise, you run the risk of developing skin that’s irritated, inflamed, and more vulnerable to environmental damage.
The real question should be, how long should you wait between all your skincare steps? And the answer is approximately one minute to give ample time for each formula to penetrate the skin.
Pure rose water is gentle and helps maintain the skin’s pH balance. It’s more desirable than using chemical-based toners, which tend to dry out the skin. Rosewater has soothing properties, so it can be used as an all-natural skin toner.

References:
Natural Skin Surface pH is on Average Below 5,” National Library of Medicine National Society for Biotechnology Information.
Skin Toner Market Size Worth $900.6 Million By 2025 | CAGR: 4.7%,” Grand View Research, August 2019.
Anti-Inflammatory Efficacy of Topical Preparations with 10% Hamamelis Distillate in a UV Erythema Test,” National Library of Medicine National Society for Biotechnology Information.

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