In the skin care world, some people believe that toners an extra, unnecessary step ; I respectfully disagree! I do believe, though, that you shouldn't spend a ton of money on a toner — after all, straight up rose water or witch hazel would do just fine. In addition to those barebones options, you can get some really great toners from drugstore brands. But what do the best drugstore toners have in common? They're all nice and gentle (mainly, that means they're alcohol-free), since a toner shouldn't strip or dry out your skin. Though the best toner for you will depend on your skin type, each one featured ahead is mild, has some sort of soothing properties, and doesn't contain any overly harsh ingredients that might cause irritation.
Before you get to shopping, some quick toning tips. While they're most commonly used post-cleansing to remove any leftover makeup/oil/impurities your cleanser didn't quite catch, you can also use toner in the morning instead of cleanser, if you're trying to cut down on how often you wash your face. Also, I like to store my toners in the fridge for an extra refreshing sensation — applying a chilled toner on my face in the morning is a always lovely treat when I wake up feeling oily. Try it!
And now, onto the fun part: Picking out a new product. Scroll on to shop some of the best affordable toners on the market right now, all for less than $20 on Amazon.
1. The Fan-Favorite
Thayers makes several witch hazel-based toners, but this rose petal version is perhaps the most popular. A cult-favorite among Amazon reviewers and beauty experts alike, the key ingredient here is witch hazel extract, a natural astringent that helps soak up excess oil and remove impurities from skin, which can help lessen the chance of blackheads and breakouts. Hydrating aloe vera extract and moisturizing glycerin are also included in the formula to balance out the witch hazel, while rose petal water, which has its own long list of skin care benefits, gives this toner a lovely, refreshing scent. It comes in a big, 12-ounce bottle that'll last ages, too — all for just over $10.
2. The Best Pure Rosewater
If you prefer to go the totally pure route, this is the toner for you. The only ingredient in here is 100% pure Moroccan rosewater that's been certified organic by the USDA, so you know you're getting top quality stuff here — that makes its reasonable $10 quite the pleasant surprise. Use this to tone, soften, refresh, and soothe your skin, either by spritzing it onto your face directly or onto a cotton pad.
3. The Best Pure Witch Hazel
Though not technically a drugstore toner, this 100% pure witch hazel does have a relatively drugstore-friendly price tag (and unless you're going to a health food store, it's really hard to find the real stuff). This is the only totally fragrance-free toner on this list, too (side note — why is it so hard to find a fragrance-free toner, people?!). In addition to using this all over your face to tone and refresh your skin, it's also great to have on hand for cuts, bug bites, rashes, and burns.
4. The Best Drugstore Toner For Dry/Dehydrated Skin
Unlike most toners that strip your skin, this one adds moisture back. Like the iconic French pharmacy brand's entire Hydrabio range, it contains the patented Aquagenium complex, which essentially works to restore your skin's natural abilities to attract, produce, and retain moisture. Other key ingredients in here include moisturizing glycerin, soothing allantoin, and niacinamide, which helps promote an even-looking complexion, among other things. Note that the Hydrabio toning lotion does contain fragrance, though, so steer clear if you have a known sensitivity to it (that said, it's listed at the very end of the ingredients list, and plenty of sensitive-skinned users have reported success with this toner).
5. The Best Drugstore Toner For Oily Skin
Another cult-favorite toner from a popular French drugstore brand, La Roche-Posay Serozinc is ideal for people with oily skin (note that it's totally safe for use on sensitive skin, too). Oil-free, fragrance-free, and alcohol-free, it actually contains just two ingredients: zinc sulfate and sodium chloride, which work together to remove excess oil and soak up shine, resulting in skin that looks matte and doesn't feel greasy.
People are obsessed with this toner, which even won a coveted Best of Beauty award from Into The Gloss in 2018. One oily-skinned Amazon reviewer, who uses this as a toner and setting spray, wrote, "It works miracles. You can instantly see the matte look take effect." Another person commented, "I have the most oily skin on this planet and I can visibly see my skin mattifying as I spray on this product."