One skin care product that tends to be overlooked — more than serum, moisturizers, and eye cream — just happens to be one that is essential for acne prone skin types. Toners for acne prone skin shouldn't be viewed as a luxury product — they're an integral part of your skin care routine that help balance your skin and rid it of pore-clogging dirt, debris, and makeup that many cleansers don't catch. And, contrary to what some of us think, the purpose of toner isn't just to take away oil. A toner's main goal is to balance your skin's pH — which is incredibly important aspect of preventing breakouts. Aside from that, toners are also meant to replenish hydration lost after cleansing and to prep skin to better absorb active ingredients found in serums, oils, and moisturizers.
Toners should be applied right after cleansing your skin and before serum, acne treatments, moisturizer, SPF, or night cream. Because acne prone skin is often oilier than normal or dry skin, sensitive to fragrances and dyes, and in need of ingredients that can balance your natural oils and reduce inflammation, it's important to read labels on toners and choose formulas that are free of alcohol and harsh chemicals. More serious acne can benefit from toners with chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid and salicylic acid, and all acne prone skin types appreciate nourishing essential oils and extracts like jojoba and aloe.
It's all too easy to neglect toner and skip over this important step, but incorporating an effective toner for acne prone skin is the way to ensure you're doing everything possible to keep skin clean, balanced, and healthy.
1A Medicated Toner With Salicylic & Glycolic Acids
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution
Get on Amazon, $15
This strong medicated toner for acne is formulated with glycolic and 0.5 percent salicylic acid, a duo that works together to dig deep into pores and flush out dirt and toxins. This clear liquid toner can be used twice daily after cleansing and will (literally) lift makeup and residue from your skin and get it out of your life so that your skin remains clean and pimple-free.
2This Cult-Favorite Korean Toner With Fermented Yeast Extract For More Even Skin
MISSHA Time Revolution Clear Toner
Get on Amazon, $18
Get on Jet, $24
This toner uses fermented yeast extract, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, and lactic acids to smooth the skin and prevent acne. The clear, watery formula feels like and refreshing, and also does an incredible job of removing dirt and dead skin cells without irritating sensitive skin. Fermented yeast extract, the same ingredient in Missha's coveted Time Revolution First Treatment Essence, promotes skin cell turnover, which helps fade post-acne marks and even out the skin over time.
3A Soothing, Balancing Toner With Rose, Ginseng, & Chamomile
Grown Alchemist Balancing Toner
Get on Amazon, $34
When your toner must-haves include a soothing formula that can reduce inflammation and irritation from acne and the drying effects of acne products, this one does the trick. It's rich with antioxidant ginseng, rose absolute, and chamomile — all of which are praised for their ability to reduce inflammation and moisturize parched skin.
4An Exfoliating Toner Made From Aloe Water & Snail Secretions
Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner
Get on Amazon, $15
Get on Jet, $17
This exfoliating toner is loaded with good-for-acne-prone-skin ingredients, including snail secretions, an in-demand ingredient lauded for its healing, antimicrobial properties, and BHA (which stands for beta hydroxy acid, or salicylic acid), an exfoliant that cleans pores, gets rid of dead skin cells, and improves skin tone. Sensitive skin types will love the fact that, instead of using purified water, this is made with aloe leaf water.
5A Glycolic Acid Toner For Exfoliation & Skin Cell Turnover
Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner
Get on Amazon, $18
Get on Jet, $32
This alcohol-free toner gently exfoliates with glycolic acid, papaya extract, and alpha hydroxy acid so that your pores stay clean and clear and skin cells turnover quickly for a more radiant complexion. Add soothing aloe vera to the mix and you have the perfect toner for sensitive acne-prone skin.
6A Gentle Toner With Hyaluronic Acid & Essential Oils
Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner
Get on Amazon, $17
The optimized pH levels in this Korean toner balance your skin's moisture and ingredients like hyaluronic acid, lipidure, and a slew of essential oils (including lavender and orange) decrease surface oils but also help retain moisture so that your skin stays soft and smooth. Even the most sensitive skin types will notice an immediately soothing and calming effect on red, irritated skin.
7A Classic Witch Hazel & Rose Petal Toner
Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Toner
Get on Amazon, $11
Get on Jet, $12
There's a legit reason why Thayers has been in business since the 1840s: with toners like this alcohol-free witch hazel, rose petal, and organic aloe vera bestseller, it's clear they keep things simple and focus on effective ingredients. This soothing acne buster contains absolutely no parabens and is hypoallergenic with a natural rose fragrance.
8This Scar-Fading African Black Soap Toner With Hydrating Shea Butter
SheaMoisture African Black Soap Problem Skin Toner
Get on Amazon, $17
Get on Jet, $11
African black soap is known for showing no mercy on acne scars and hyperpigmentation — and this incredible black soap toner not only works to unclog pores and prevent pimples and blackheads while gently healing the ones you have, it also adds a major dose of hydration, courtesy of shea butter. Reviewers say this toner helps clear up adult acne, evens out skin tone, and makes pores appear smaller and tighter.
9A Natural Apple Cider Vinegar Toner For Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin
Restoar Apple Cider Vinegar Facial Toner
Get on Amazon, $80 (3 Pack)
If your beauty motto is: natural is better, this 100 percent organic apple cider vinegar toner is right up your alley. Its acne-fighting oils and plant extracts include tea tree, considered to be one of nature's most potent pimple-fighting oils, anti-inflammatory lavender, antiseptic cedarwood oil, and soothing aloe vera and rose water. Expect a toner that will cleanse and exfoliate without drying out skin.
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