The best toners to soothe, exfoliate and revitalise every skin type

Looking for the best toner to add to your skincare routine? Look no further...

a roundup of toners - best toner

Looking for the best toner to add to your skincare routine? Look no further...

We'd hazard a guess that thinking about the alcohol-filled toners of your teenage skincare routine probably makes your eyes sting. But thankfully, in 2022 the best toner looks a lot different to the days of our youth – and a great one really can change your life. Once you've found the right buy for your skin type, you'll wonder how you ever went without it.

We're not the only ones who think so, either. Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe, founder and CEO of SKNDOCTOR, can't get enough of them either. 'Toner is a step you definitely shouldn’t be skipping,' she says. 'They now come in lots of different forms, each with different purposes and results; calming mist toners, exfoliating glycolic acid toners, moisturising toners and ones that deliver AHAs, BHAs, peptides and antioxidants to your skin.'

What is facial toner, exactly?

'The primary function of a toner is to balance your skin’s pH after using the best cleanser and provides some mild exfoliation,' explains Dr Ukeleghe. It's the step in between your cleanser and moisturiser within your regime. It also removes any final traces of dirt, pollution and make-up that your cleanser might have missed.

It helps to smooth and prep the skin for serum, not to mention give it an enviable glow. Swipe over just-washed skin with a cotton pad and you’ll see your complexion transform.

It's also worth noting that skipping this step could even hamper your skincare effects. You can slather on the best moisturiser for dry skin all you like, but unless you're starting your regime off right, all of this is null and void.

What are the benefits of using toner in your skincare routine?

'Toners are products that don’t get much of a look in during our skincare regimes. But they can be used to clean your skin, remove excess oil and reduce pore size,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. ‘They are also good for balancing the skin.' The latter is particularly important if you have acne-prone skin.

Due to the alkaline nature of soap and even the very best face washes, the pH balance of our skin can get disturbed. This makes your skin work overtime to find its sweet spot again, which can result in excess oil and breakouts.

Which skin toner should I use?

Toners will not only help to restore your skin’s pH after cleansing – they do so much more. They provide similar benefits to your serum because they are often infused with similar ingredients. Think vitamins, prebiotics, glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid, which can brighten, soothe, exfoliate and hydrate respectively.

PH balancing toners maintain the acid mantle of the skin barrier – the pH level of healthy skin is approximately 5.5. Mattifying toners can help to balance oily skin, tighten pores and minimise shine, and are loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial ingredients.

Because they’re packed with extra skincare benefits, you need to pick a toner based on your biggest skin concern.

Ingredients to look out for in a toner

  • For exfoliation - look for alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), things like salicylic acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid. 'These acids work to gently exfoliate your skin, accelerate skin cell turnover and reveal a glowing complexion,' says Dr Ukeleghe. 'They are particularly helpful at targeting problems like dry patches, dullness and hyperpigmentation.'
  • For hydration - keep an eye out for hyaluronic acid. 'The ultimate hydrating molecule, it boosts moisture and minimises fine lines,' Dr Ukeleghe explains. 'Glycerin, snail mucin and allantoin are common substitutes.'
  • For anti-ageing - Vitamin C is your friend here because it protects skin from ageing free radicals.

Now that you're all clued up on the virtues of incorporating one of the best toners into your skincare regimen, are you ready to shop the best? Scroll through our favourite toners in the handpicked edit below. Your skin will thank you for it...

Katie Thomas

Katie Thomas is the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire UK. With over 10 years of experience on women's luxury lifestyle titles, she covers everything from the best beauty looks from the red carpet and stand out trends from the catwalk, to colonic irrigation and to the best mascaras on the market. She started her career on fashion desks across the industry - from The Telegraph to Brides - but found her calling in the Tatler beauty department. From there she moved to Instyle, before joining the Marie Claire digital team in 2018. She’s made it her own personal mission to find the best concealer in the world to cover her tenacious dark circles. She’s obsessed with skincare that makes her skin bouncy and glowy, low-maintenance hair that doesn’t require brushing and a cracking good manicure. Oh and she wears more jewellery than the Queen.