What Does Toner Actually Do? 5 Toners That Have Unexpected Benefits For Your Skin

Clarins/Liz Earle/Pixi/La Roche/Darphin

Toner. It's often the forgotten skincare step, the one that goes unrecognised and the product that can confuse even the most advanced of beauty addicts. So, what does toner actually do, and does it actually make a difference? It's surprising how many of us aren't quite sure.

Well, while using a toner isn't compulsory, it actually has a huge range of benefits that make it a smart skincare step to include in your routine (following cleanser, before serums, oils and moisturisers). First off, toner is designed to round up the cleansing stage nicely by picking up any last bits of makeup and unwanted oil on the skin following your cleanse. It also aims to reduce the pore size and as its name suggests, improve the overall tone of your skin.

Now, depending on the type of product you choose, toners can have a range of skincare benefits, from exfoliating to moisturising to soothing. Toner is especially brilliant for skin prone to excess oil, as it wipes away unwanted oil and impurities, which helps in turn to reduce pore size. Many now also help to protect the complexion from outside aggressors such as pollution.

Drier skin types should avoid toners with alcohol, which can feel stripping and a little too harsh. Instead, they should opt for moisturising and soothing formulas with ingredients such as rose and aloe vera. Oiler skin, on the other hand, is better suited to toners that exfoliate using AHAs.

To help you find the right toner, I've rounded up my five very favourite toners:

Darphin Refreshing Toner With Banana Tree Flower


Darphin / Feel Unique

This was one of my first favourite toners, and has been one of the only ones I have ever completely emptied! It's incredible in the summer as it really does refresh the skin and smells so cool and fresh due to the banana tree flower. I'd recommend Darphin's toner for all skin types, including dry and sensitive, as it's gentle.

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner


Clarins / Boots

This uses gentle fruit acids to naturally exfoliate skin gently and as part of your routine. I'd recommend this for normal and oily skin types as it's not harsh or stripping on skin. Use it around three times a week after your cleanser for noticeably brighter skin.

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic


Liz Earle / John Lewis

Liz Earle's tonic is such a beautiful product, which works for dry and sensitive skins as well as normal complexions. It's soothing and moisturising thanks to the rose, geranium and aloe vera, and it smells absolutely incredible.

La Roche Posay Serozinc


La Roche Posay

Once only available in French pharmacies, this toner was lusted-over by every beauty industry insider with oily skin and/or blemishes. Thank the beauty gods it is now widely sold in the UK in Boots stores, as it's a brilliant toning solution spray. Formulated with zinc sulphate and astringent sodium chloride, it directly targets the overproduction of oil and enlarged pores.

Pixi Glow Tonic Exfoliating Toner


Pixi / Cult Beauty

First hitting the big time thanks to Caroline Hirons' blog, Glow Tonic undeniably led the massive liquid exfoliant movement we've seen in recent years. Using 5 percent glycolic acid, it exfoliates and brightens like no other. If you have normal/combination/oily skin, this will be your hero.

Let's face it: toner is the underdog of the beauty world, and it's definitely worth the investment.