Toner has come a long way from the three-step Cleanse, Tone, Moisturize regimen. The old standby fell out of favor for a period of time, made obsolete by the widespread notion that it was both a) boring and b) an unnecessary extra step in any routine, but then it took a page out of Snoop Dogg-to-Lion’s book and reinvented itself—now, the best toner can be found masquerading as your favorite facial mist. Think about it: Face mists are toning made easy, without the need to buy cotton balls in bulk. (Saving the planet and your skin, one spritz at a time.)
So it goes without saying that toner has once again established itself as a step deserving of being in our daily routines—partly because it no longer has to be an annoying thing to do, and partly because toning formulas are much more exciting than they used to be. Packed with the kind of skin-loving ingredients that reinforce the cleansers, serums, and moisturizers you’re already loyal to, toners feel like something you want to use rather than something your nana swears by.
Of course, getting the most out of your new outlook on toning means that choosing the right formula for your personal skin woes is all but essential. Here, all the info you need to track down the best toner for oily skin, dry skin, skin so sensitive it erupts in hives if the wind blows the wrong way, and even skin that wants to take its anti-aging prowess to the next level. Game on.
For Oily Skin
If you err on the shinier side, don't make the mistake of treating your skin's natural oil production like a roach that just won't die with drying alcohol-based astringents. Sure, they'll zap oiliness on contact, but that'll backfire as your skin produces more oil to compensate, resulting in worsened breakouts and enlarged pores. Instead, opt for gentle formulas that let your skin do its thing while clearing and soothing—the key here is balance.
Little Barn Apothecary Bamboo + Fresh Mint Clearing Facial Mist, $16; at Little Barn Apothecary
belif Problem Solution Toner, $28; at Sephora
For Dry Skin
If there's any skin type that benefits from toner the most, it's dry, dehydrated complexions that will take moisture any way they can get it. The right hydrating formula will make the skin more receptive to absorbing the products that come after it, so you'll get the most out of your serums and moisturizers, too.
AMOREPACIFIC Moisture Bound Skin Energy Hydration Delivery System, $60; at AMOREPACIFIC
For Sensitive Skin
Provided you avoid alcohol, fragrance, and harsh exfoliating ingredients, toning is great for sensitive skin overall—it'll leave it feeling clean and refreshed without the use of aggressive cleansers, and will help counteract the irritation that can occur after washing your face with water. Look for all things soothing, nourishing, and balancing to keep sensitive complexions happy.
Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner, $10.95; at Thayers
Toners infused with the same stuff you'd look for in the rest of your skin care—vitamins, antioxidants, peptides, and gentle exfoliants—are a huge boon to an anti-aging routine, since they provide an extra layer of defense in between your cleanser and your moisturizers. Plus, anything that comes in face mist form means you can keep your age-fighting strategy on the up and up throughout the day.
Grown Alchemist Desert Lime & Amino-Peptide Hydra-Mist, $31; at The Stell
La Prairie Age Management Balancer, $100; at La Prairie
For Normal Skin
What constitutes normal is totally subjective, but if your complexion is without a specific pain point, it is your God-given right to follow your heart to the formulas you enjoy the most. Aromatherapeutic botanical oils and extracts, vitamins, nourishing oils, antioxidants that protect against environmental aggressors—go for it however you please.
First Aid Beauty Vitamin Hydrating Mist, $16; at First Aid Beauty
Decléor Aroma Cleanse Essential Tonifying Lotion, $30; at Decléor