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Toner 101: Types of Skin Toners

Toner, or some company refer as lotion is generally used after cleansing but before applying moisturizer. This step is crucial as it act as a bridge between the cleanser and moisturizer. Many would skip this step thinking it is unnecessary or not important, just like how some people would skip eye cream, which they deemed as unimportant as well. I was one of the many a few years ago. I would skip toner but not my eye cream because I learnt about a simple fact on using a proper eye cream than relying on face moisturizer as an eye cream. Anyhow that is a totally different topic 😀

Toner 101
Today I’m going to talk about the basic of skin toner. I’m not going into extreme detail i.e. astringents, floral water, fresheners, herbal toner and so on. I’m going to cover the few different types of toner in basic. This is what you should know at least. I remember a few years ago I would skip toner because no BA would tell me toner is equally important in a skin care regime. They would tell me I can skip it as it doesn’t do anything to the skin. There are so many different types of toner or lotion available in the market. Do you know which one you need?


The importance of toner

Toner act as a double cleansing after cleanser. It will help to lift away any dirt and residue left that your cleanser weren’t able to and also wipe away any cleanser residue from the face. That’s not all. A toner also helps to tone your skin (most toner do) and rebalance the skin pH. There are two types of toner – with alcohol and without alcohol. Interestingly, toner can be applied onto the skin using a few method – with cotton pad, misting onto the face or use as a facial mask by soaking a dry cotton mask sheet. Back in those days, I was told that toner will help to shrink the pores. I find that this point does nothing for me at all. So, to attest if a toner help in pore shrinking or not is up to your skin. It may or may not work for you.


Traditional Toner

Suitable For: All skin type. Do look out for “alcohol” in the ingredient list if you are allergy to it.
Recommended Product: Yadah Pure Green Toner, Shu Uemura TSUYA Skin Youthful Crystal-Transparency Lotion, Biotherm PUREFECT Skin Micro-Exfoliating Purifying Toner.

Toner 101 Normal Toner
The most basic and conventional toner is the normal toner that we all know since many many years ago. Usually when you shop for skin care, the sales girl would recommend the matching toner to go with. Toner can be from the same category i.e. hydrating but I say it’s not necessary. It’s just like hair care. If you suffer from two or more skin concern, you can mix and match the category regardless from the same brand or not for even more efficacy, although I would highly recommended getting from the same brand as your cleanser and moisturizer. Toner is usually in a clear, colorless, watery consistency. Some is slightly with fragrance scent while some is over the top. My favourite toner is always the one that doesn’t have a specific function to it, but a little hydrating won’t hurt 🙂 . My current favourite is none other than Yadah Pure Green Toner. It is the PERFECT everyday toner that is neither a whitening, brightening, anti-blemish or oil control. It is said to be a hydrating toner that soothe and soften the skin but it’s not heavy or oily on the skin, just the way I like. It definitely feels just like a normal toner.



Suitable For: All skin type.
Recommended Product: Estée Lauder Micro Essence, ZA True White EX Essence Lotion, Hada Labo Retinol Lifting + Firming Lotion.

Toner 101 Essence-in-Lotion
Beginning last year we witness the growth and demand in having a 2-in-1 lotion product that work as a toner and essence at the same time. Let’s face it. No one have the time to sit down and pat a few different products every day and night due to our hectic and busy lifestyle. I do and I enjoyed it but not everyone think the same as I did. As a convenient alternative to consumer, many company race in the olympic of essence-in-lotion race and came up with their version of treatment lotion aka essence-in-lotion. With this, you can skip toner and essence altogether as both product is already combined into one bottle. So how to choose which is which? Easy. My advice has always been “think of what your skin concern is and what you need”. My favourite is Estée Lauder Micro Essence and ZA True White EX Essence Lotion. Estée Lauder’s Micro Essence is actually a treatment lotion that is recommended to use together with Advanced Night Repair. When it is used alone, it act more of a normal toner without any obvious result except for waking up with well-hydrated skin. But when used with Advanced Night Repair, the result is a rosy, glowing skin! Now, ZA True White EX Essence Lotion is equally interesting. It is not a 2-in-1 product but a 3-in-1 product – lotion, essence and emulsion. This product is mainly for dark spots and evening out skin tone. I like it for it’s 3-in-1 whitening benefits.


Exfoliating Lotion

Suitable For: All skin type, especially for sensitive or dry skin.
Recommended Product: Clarins White Plus HP Gentle Renewing Brightening Peel, Hada Labo Mild Peeling Lotion.

Toner 101Exfoliating Lotion
As I like to scrub my face, I was recommended to use a “peel” instead. I called it peel because the first ever exfoliating product that I used was from Clarins and they said it’s a gentle peel. It was later on when other company came out with similar product and named it as exfoliating lotion or peeling lotion. This is one confusing product for many people mainly due to its function and liquidy texture. I too asked the same as I was told it is a “scrub”. To not further confuse you, an exfoliating lotion is actually a lotion that is also with gentle peel/scrub properties. What it does is that it tones and remove dead skin layers from the skin surface without the conventional harsh scrubbing. Isn’t it a perfect combination and to pair exfoliating with toner is brilliant! There are a small majority people that suffer from sensitive skin that they are unable to use conventional facial scrub. But if you do not remove the dead skin layer from the skin, skin care applied on will not be able to penetrate into the skin. This is where exfoliating lotion came in to save the day! This can be used as a weekly treatment or if you skin can take it, use it daily at night. It doesn’t sting the skin. All exfoliation is done without you even noticing. One thing that I don’t like about these type of lotion is that the consistency is more gluey and chunky than normal toner. It does hardens into jello around the cap and nozzle that never fail to send chill down my spine 😀

Hope you find this 101 edition useful for you. No doubt there are so many types of toner / lotion in terms of function, texture, benefits and so on. What you need to do is to think of what exactly your skin need, for example brightening. Then from there you just need to pin point which brand and budget to go for and that’s it! 😀 . Until next 101, adios!


Comments (10)

  • I like to use toner to do as a face mask. Ya it won’t make the pores smaller but I do feel more hydrated after using it. Since I am quite lazy so it is good for me to put it on as mask and I can do something else in the same thing like watching movies or youtubes on bed before sleep.

    • Make sure it’s a non-alcohol if you’re using as face mask ya. Actually when toner is used as face mask, the result is even better. Just that you can only put on for 10 minutes. I learnt this from Nu Ren Wo Zui Da 😀

      • Oh really? Ya I usually put for 10 mins only then transfer to my neck area. Why can’t use daily for toner that contain alcohol?

        • No no. If used as face mask, the toner shouldn’t even contain alcohol 😀

          • hey the KOSE SEKKISEI Lotion contain alcohol right? The one that can be use as toner and mask.

          • I couldn’t find the full ingredient list online but someone said it contain alcohol and it’s suppose to help with hydration. If it works for you then it should be fine. Just that I saw from Nu Ren Wo Zui Da said preferably use those without alcohol as mask though.

  • Great info u have here, I have all three types u stated here(including Neesya Whitening toner-Thanks to you, a few last drops left), Using each of the toner according to my skin needs for the day.

    • Thanks Wan. Glad to hear you like Neesya Toner 😀

  • Even toner also this confusing? Gosh 😀

    • Hahahaah! You thought cleanser is the confusing one eh? I don’t even dare to think about serum, emulsion and moisturizer lol


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