An A-Z Guide On Toners

What does a toner do?

How we define toners today, is drastically different from how it was perceived earlier. It was defined to be used for one specific task and today, it does multiple things. Some of its functions remain the same, like cleaning the face off impurities. With time, its varied uses have been to moisturize face, improve the skin’s appearance and lot more. With a storehouse of multitude of functions, toners can be used in different ways too. We have included that in our section– how to use a toner. Packed with accurate information on the what, why and how of toner. Additionally, how does your toner differ from its other benefitting counterparts. Read on to learn more.


What is a toner?

Straightaway, a toner does three things for your face – cleanses, moisturizes and maintains a healthy pH level of your skin. It is a beauty cosmetic that comes in a fluid watery consistency. Toner helps to tone the face by cleaning off all face impurities and improves skin’s appearance. It works pretty quick. A toner works to improve skin issues, for example, acne, pimples, oil build up, dirt accumulation and dead skin cells removal. Thereafter, a toner works its way to restore the natural healthy balance of skin and moisturizes it. Last but not the least, a toner helps to pave the way for enhancing the skin’s absorbency of other skincare products.

Beautiful Face

How to use it?

Use a toner after washing your face with soap/face cleanser. Use the toner on skin, let it dry. Apply face moisturizer, cream/lotion or serum.


The normal usage is recommended to be twice daily. Once in the morning and once at night, before bed. In case, you have very sensitive skin that is vulnerable to acne and other breakouts, increase the frequency of use. Similarly, those with dry skin should avoid using the toner twice everyday, as that  can cause the skin to further dry out. As a result, for dry skin beauties, use a toner one time, every alternate day. 

Pro tip longer the duration of using a toner depending on how your toner is suiting to your skin. The repetition can differ in terms of once/twice daily and days-wise as well.


You have different easily available options – cotton pad, cotton ball and your bare palms. Cotton ball and pad differ because the latter needs comparatively less amount of a toner. While, cotton balls need more pours. If you’re using palms, it calls for direct dabbing action on the face. If you opt for a cotton pad/ball, pour the toner on it (damp but not excessive wet). Then, apply it in an outwards motion on the face. 

Pro tip Toners come in mist and spray bottles. If you are using any of them, always wipe them after you’ve sprayed. This is so that you don’t elevate the impurities build-up on skin. 

Cotton Pads as Applicators'


Use the toner on the face, neck, and chest area. Do not use it on and very near to the eyes. You can also use a toner as an under eye mask. Furthermore, always let the toner dry first, before applying other skincare products afterwards. To use the toner, as an overnight skin care treatment, do so if you do not have very sensitive skin. Because, for sensitive skin beauties, doing so may make the skin feel itchier and more irritated. Therefore, we always advise to apply cream or any face moisturize after applying a toner on the face.

Why use it?

Primarily, toner helps you to get rid of your skin impurities. Oil build up, dirt, impurity clogging pores, impurities that escalates the acne, pimples and other skin breakouts, long hours makeup, dead skin cells. It refreshes your skin pores and revitalizes the skin. it will aid you to keep your skin healthy, bright and away from other skin issues. Timely use of a toner shall help you achieve all that! It also seeks to shrink and tighten pores and refine other signs of ageing. To give you fresh, clear and radiant looking skin. Because a toner sets the base letting other skincare essentials work effectively, it enhances the skin’s improvement. Whether you’re a heavy makeup wearer or your combating skin problems, a toner helps you through that way. It helps improve skin’s tone and texture and give it the right purification from deep layers.

Glowing Face


  1. Easy to use on-the-go, to get a refreshed look. Here, a spray toner comes as a great help.
  2. More effective cleaning of skin impurities.
  3. Protects the skin from further, dust and pollution damage. 
  4. Helps in removal of excess oil too, if face cleansers, like face washes are not able to. 
  5. Restores and maintains the right balance of skin. Toner restores needed moisture and removes the excessive oil. Toners, like humectants are of major help in restoring and providing skin with nourishment it needs. 
  6. Toners infused with the goodness of vitamins, like vitamin E delivers essential skin nutrients. That gives you softer and healthy skin. 
  7. Skin feels younger and radiant, due to the reduction in ageing signs. 
  8. Toners are absorbed and dry quickly.
  9. Calms inflamed skin and soothes it.
  10. Formulated for all needs, such as, dryness, acne, wrinkles, blackheads etc.
  11. Makes skin appear brighter and glowing. 
  12. Unclogging of pores and their revitalization.

Women applying Toner from a Spray

Face toner benefits 

  • Toner will help you  get rid of stubborn impurities and dirt, that even face washes cannot do.
  • Toners are enriched in antioxidants that help you to get vibrant skin. It makes your skin look and feel fresh and clean, rather than making it look dull and weary.
  • One of the most crucial benefits of a toner is shrinkage and tightening of skin pores. Continued use of toner will help lessen the appearance of pores. 
  • Toners help ageing skin by tightening the cell gaps. Thereby, reducing some of the signs of ageing.
  • Toners help in grooming of ingrown hair. Continued and systematic use of a toner will benefit you, by  preventing future ingrown hair growth. 
  • Many toners today are formulated with ingredients that help fight with skin allergies. 
  • Toners help protect skin barriers while actively cleansing the skin. Therefore, your skin gets deeply cleansed without disruption of your skin’s natural barrier.
  • Toner helps get rid of any discomfort in your skin.
  • Toners help make skin plumper and smoother.
  • Toners have skin brightening properties that provide your face with fresh glow.
  • Toners seek to minimize pores and give you even toned skin.
  • Formulated with healing elements, some toners nowadays, soothes the skin. It provides comfort to skin while strongly acting on skin issues and impurities. So, you have a formula that cleans well and gives your skin the care it needs simultaneously. 
  • It helps you have a way to get smoother skin day by day.
  • Toner helps you achieve clear complexion, away from skin damages.


Overusing a toner can bring discomfort to the skin. Therefore, it is advised that you must pick on a toner and use it as best suits your skin. Too much use of a toner on dry sin can lead it to over-drying. On the other hand, if you do not use a toner the right way, like any other treatment, it will hardly show you the desired results. 

Especially for overtly sensitive skin that easily reacts to minor issues, not using the right kind of face toner for your skin can bring in the wrong kind of results. For instance, using alcohol-based face toners for skin can make the skin more vulnerable to skin issues, like breakouts and irritation.

Fragrant rich toners can also disturb the soothing and healing of the skin. It can cause irritation, itchiness and similar issues.

Difference Between A Toner and Micellar Water

Toners do not require any water rinse off. You simply put it on, dab it on your face. And, then apply the further skincare cosmetics. With micellar water, you may rinse off or may not. If you’re outside, then a rinse off won’t be needed, yet it will work effectively. At home, rinsing off after using micellar water helps in double cleansing.

Toners help in skin tightening and toning, while micellar water does no such function. It simply cleans.

Toners are required to clean off impurities, balance skin’s pH level and moisturize too. Micellar water helps in cleaning of makeup and dirt on the face.

Makeup removal is more efficient when using micellar water, than a toner. 

Bioderma Micellar Water

While toners are fruitful in full facial cleansing, micellar water is only beneficial for oil and dirt removal. It doesn’t penetrate deep like toners, in removal of dirt and clogged pores. 

Some toners have a certain percentage of alcohol in them. Micellar water does not have alcohol content in them.

Toners are the next step to using micellar water. 

Micellar water is useful in fixing any makeup glitches. Toners, on the other hand, cannot do that. You may dip a Q-tip in micellar water and remove a smudged liner, for instance!

Toners never clog pores. They instead help clear pores off dirt and impurities that are aggravating their extent. Conversely, micellar water, if used prolonged without a good rinse off can eventually clog skin pores. But those micellar waters that come with a non-comedogenic formula are not prone to pore-clogging.

Micellar water is very productive in easy removal of waterproof makeup, too. Toners cannot ace that!

Toners help to clean thoroughly and seal the needed moisture of skin. Micellar water has tiny oily particles (micelles), which helps to remove makeup, oil and dirt from the skin. It doesn’t as such, provide the kind of hydration lock that toner does. Rather, micellar water leaves behind an oily film on the skin layer that, if clogs pores can lead to acne breakout.

Toners seek to control the signs of ageing but micellar water simply maintains mature skin. Toners help treat signs of ageing. 

Micellar Water

Difference Between A Toner and An Essence

The method of their application is almost the same but with one quick difference. You can apply toner using either a cotton pad, cotton ball or palms. Essence, on the other side, calls for a palm pressed application. 

That is because, though both have a fluid consistency. Essence have a bit waterier nature than a toner. Therefore, works best when applied and pressed on the skin with the warmth of bare palms. 

Unlike essence, toners have become an important ritual of double-cleansing the skin. Using a toner makes sure that no traces of skin damaging elements are left behind. 

Essences have more of a target locked treatment. Toners, on the other hand, help take care of all face skin issues. From, cleansing thoroughly to hydrating and protecting the skin’s natural moisture shield. 

The main objective of essence is to enrich the skin with moisture and hydration. 

Similar to essence, toners also help in prepping the skin for absorption of further skin products. But the role of essence in leading the way, to enhanced capacity for absorbing of other skincare cosmetics, is comparatively higher. 

Toners have a gentle exfoliation. Essence do not.

Essence is applied after using a toner. 

Applying Toner

Because of its uber-hydrating nature, essence is considered to be pretty ideal for dry and flaky skin beauties. 

Hydration level of a toner is comparatively lesser than that of essence. 

Toners help re-balance the skin’s pH level, essence do not. Essence is ideal for nourishment. 

Essence is an important part of the Korean skincare regime. Toners are not exclusive like that.

Unlike toners, face essence promotes cell regeneration. It helps rise in cell turnover by helping the formation of new cells in place of dead skin cells.

Difference Between A Toner and Face Cleanser

Earlier, toners were pre-conceived to be very drying on skin. It was understood that using a toner will make the skin crackle and flakier. But today the toners are formulated with essential nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that neither dries nor makes your skin very oily. It maintains a healthy balance of both. Cleansers, on the other hand, are drying on skin. They do not help maintain the right pH balance of skin and neither boost the skin with hydration. 

A cleanser does what it says – it simply cleans the face off oil, dirt and dust particles. Toner helps to clean with protecting the skin.

Toners benefit you to control your random skin breakouts, pimples and acne. It is like a treatment to these skin damaging elements. While, a cleanser has no such specific role to act out. 

Toners are to be applied after cleansing your face. Often, the places where even a cleanser cannot pull off impurities very well, a toner helps complete that.

Toners help fill in the moisture after using a cleanser on the face. Hence, toners are more moisturizing than essences. 

Unlike many cleansers, toners can clean the skin and pores completely.

Pore tightening is more effectively done by toners, than cleansers. 

Difference Between a Toner and a Serum

Toner does an all-round job of cleaning and moisturizing. Serums are more profound at providing the skin with intensive moisture. 

Toners bring an element of full proof cleansing of the skin off all impurities. It makes skin cleaning doubly effective. It is like an extra skin cleansing agent. On the other hand, serums help protect the skin with high nourishment. It fills in the apt nourishment needed for the skin. 

Both toner and serum are lightweight on skin. But serums provide a more intensive care than a toner does. 

Toners hydrate the skin but serums are good at providing skin conditioning. 

Serum has no exfoliating properties. Toners are exfoliating, besides being hydrating too. Therefore, serums have no role in removal and cleaning of dirt and pollution from skin layers. 

On one hand, toners help you to keep the skin’s natural moisture and protective barrier intact. Serums, on the other hand, build a protective nourishing layer on the skin. 

Serum is used after using a toner.

Product Shot

The absorption power of a serum in deeper skin layers is comparatively more than a toner. 

Serum allows you to have a greater control over anti-ageing features on the skin. 

Serums are formulated with more concentrated and viscous formula than atoner. Toners are lightweight in formula and on skin too. 

Serums help you to look younger and healthier.

Serum works with a more targeted approach, while toners have an overall approach towards skincare benefits.

A serum is costlier than toner.

Serums contain a higher amount of active ingredients than toners. Therefore, it helps relieve the skin of stubborn high problems, such as, hyper-pigmentation and tough acne. It is more powerful than a toner, in terms of fighting specific problems and boosting the skin with nourishment.

Woman Applying Toner

Difference Between A Toner and lotion

Pointing out the primary difference, the consistency of a lotion is thicker than a toner. Toners are waterier while lotions are denser and creamy.

Toners may or may not have alcohol in them. Lotions are free from any percentage of alcohol content.

Lotions are supposedly the last step of a skincare routine. Additionally, you can also opt for a cream later on. But, the first few steps of a skincare regime incorporate toner (after face wash/cleanser) and the last steps have lotion. Conclusively, toners set the way for other products and lotion is the last step of a basic skincare time-table.

The procedure of applying a toner is to dab and gently rub outwards side of the face. A lotion glides on your skin very smoothly. 

A toner doesn’t disturb the natural moisture lock of the skin layers. Lotions rather help in framing a protective moisturized layer on the skin. It hydrates and forms a protective shield on the skin. It sets in the previous layers of products applied on the skin. 

Lotions usage varies depending on the season and the skin type you have. For dry skin beauties, the winter season would demand a lotion of heavier consistency. That would be helpful to infuse the dry skin with plenty of moisture and hydration. Prevent the skin from drying out.

Lotion Application

A toner is a crucial ingredient of any skincare beauty procedure. It is mandatory to start off a skin care process with the inclusion of a toner. But, a lotion may or may not be that crucial! Lotions are not a religiously followed step. It can be easily replaced with any other heavy skin moisturizer, like creams. Importance of including a toner is more.

Thickness of a toner doesn’t vary but a lotion does! There are watery like runny milky lotions which are less viscous than their heavier creamy like lotion counterparts. This difference is the result of needs and difference in skin type too.

Application of toner requires the right amount on cheeks, neck and chest. In contrast, lotions are to be applied as generously as needed.

Toners help to retain and balance the skin’s moisture. Conversely, lotions boost the skin with lots of moisture. 

Some toners may have a soothing effect and may not. That also depends on the kind of sin you have and the ingredients used in the toner. Lotions, in contrast, are always soothing, comfortable and gentle on skin.


Difference Between a Toner and Primer

A toner is the stage that sets a play for further skincare essentials, for example, serum, essences etc. Contrary to a toner, primer sets the stage for applying makeup essentials.

Toners are easily absorbed by the skin. Primers have to be  blended well, such that it sets evenly with the natural skin tone.

Toners wash away even the last bits of skin impurities and makeup, that a face wash couldn’t. Quite opposite to that, a primer brings forth the application of makeup products, like, eyeshadow, blush etc. 

Toners fight skin defects and treat them with continued use, but primer helps in masking and concealing skin imperfections, for example, redness, uneven skin tone, discoloration, pigmentation, acne, pimples and likewise. 

Similar to the above feature, one of the prime functions of a toner is to shrink pores and reduce the gap between cells. That happens due to ageing, therefore, considered one of the signs of ageing. But primer’s aim and objective are to cover and conceal open pores. It doesn’t help in improvement of pores condition without having to mask it. 

Conclusively, toner helps you to achieve beautiful and radiant beauty from within. It brings clean and clear skin. On the other side, primer helps in achieving good looking makeup. It increases the wear ability of makeup, helps in smoother application and keeps that intact for long hours. 

Toners have a multitude of benefits for the skin do let us know if we missed any of its amazing benefits or if you have any pro tips for Toners.