As I’ve been experimenting with swaps in my skin care routine, I started wondering about toner. I didn’t really know what it was anymore because I hadn’t used it since high school.

Back then… and really, up until nowI legitimately thought a toner’s purpose was to simply help with breakouts. Nothing else. Like it was just this thin shield that would either dry the f*ck outta your current zits or help prevent new ones.

But then I remember overhearing my friend’s sister talk about esthetician school, and she said that during facials they would use toner after many of their steps. I thought… huh… wouldn’t that dry you out? What if the client already has clear skin?

I’d read about all these beauty bloggers using things like apple cider vinegar as a toner. Rose water as a toner. But… I see no zits? I thought. Why use toner in the first place then?


I started to realize I didn’t know shit about toners. So finally, I went to my favorite blog for beauty knowledge: Into The Gloss. Typed “toner” into the search bar and found this article that breaks it all down. Pretty much, a toner is supposed to be the last step of cleansing your face. It’s supposed to sweep away any film or buildup that was left over. Toners can have other added benefits as well. So it’s not just for breakouts.

I thought that toners were all alcohol based (astringent toners- which do exist!) but apparently there are multiple types of toners and the better ones are usually a water based liquid with a few active ingredients. Different ingredients for different skin types. Like hydrating toners for dry skin… Or soothing toners for irritated skin… or astringent toners for oily skin aka drying out zits– hello 15 year old me!

My Personal Trial With Toner:

Naturally, I started wondering if my skin could benefit from toner. These days I only breakout right before that lovely time of the month and it’s really slight- so I’ll pass on astringent toners. And I’m gentle with my skin so it doesn’t need a soothing toner… or does it? My deal is, I do feel like sometimes (especially when I slack on the Clarisonic) there’s some extra buildup on my skin. It’s like a weird, tight feeling and when it happens- I really hate it. I want to feel satisfied after I wash my face! Not like it still might need another washing… that’s so annoying! So I thought maybe I could benefit from one that balances the skin’s pH levels after washing– as well as add some extra hydration.

What I bought:


I’ve been trying this one out for 2 weeks now. I bought Thayer’s Watch Hazel Aloe Vera formula simply for the following reasons: 1- It had a 4.7 out of 5 star rating on Amazon with over 3,300 5 star reviews. 2- It’s made with rose petal and I love the smell of roses… 3- It’s less than 10 bucks. Holler! OH and I can understand all the ingredients and I see some “organics” thrown in there. I’m a sucker for that word. Although a few of the ingredients I’m not sure about. Like Glycerin.. which they say is vegetable.

My results:

2 weeks later I will say this: my skin doesn’t feel like it needs soothing, but putting this on my face is soothing and I find that I actually enjoy this step. The smell makes me feel light and airy and it just feels good on my skin. After it drys, even without moisturizer, my skin does feel softer than it usually does. I wouldn’t say more hydrated, but definitely softer. And I wouldn’t say it makes my face feel “more clean” as toners are supposed to do, but I think it does calm down some of the redness that naturally occurs on my cheeks and noses. My complexion has gotten less splotchy as of late. So I do like Thayers. 

My final thoughts:

My skin doesn’t feel drastically changed, and I don’t think I neeeeeed a toner. But as long as it’s an extra step I can afford both time and money wise… then why not? It feels like a little booster… like some extra pampering for my skin. And a little pampering is good for the soul. 😉

Further advice + nuggets of knowledge:

For breakouts, I’ve actually heard really good things about using Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner- you know… as opposed to using an actual alcohol based one, which can be a little harsh. I tested this one actually about a month ago (not really knowing then that it was a toner) and my skin reacted really nicely to it. It didn’t sting my face and the zits totally calmed down.

Lastly, as for what the PROS say… do we *need* toner? A lot of research teams say yes –like this one for example– but only if you’re using the good, good quality shit. So remember that if you choose to incorporate it into your skin care routine. Bad toner is worse than no toner.

Any thoughts to add? Stories, advice, opinions on toners? We love to hear em!