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The Best Facial Toners

Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com
🕚 Updated April 2022

Upgrade your skin cleansing game with a good facial toner. These are some of the best facial toners, whether you're focused on exfoliating, tightening pores, or soothing troubled skin.

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  Top Choice Best for Acne Best Anti-Aging Choice Best for Sensitive Skin Best Pads
Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Facial Toner with Aloe Vera
La Roche-Posay
Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner with Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid
Vitamin C Facial Toner
Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner with Rosewater
Green Tangerine Vitamin C Toner Pads with '5-in-1' Effect
Our SummaryA classic option that works for most skin types.A combination solution for acne-prone skin.A toner that exfoliates and brightens for a youthful complexion.An affordable choice for all skin care fans.Skin care that's perfect for when you need to travel.
ProsUsually well-tolerated by most skin types, balances skin's pH, hydrates.Glycolic acid to exfoliate, salicylic acid to clear pores, antioxidant thermal spring water.Glycolic acid to exfoliate, vitamin C to brighten, vitamin E to moisturize.Vegan formula, no harsh ingredients, includes rosewater.Travel-friendly format, promises to brighten, exfoliate, moisturize, tone, detoxify.
ConsContains artificial fragrance, may be drying for some people.Combination may be too strong for sensitive/dry skin types.Spray may be too intense, combination may cause irritation for some.May be too intense for people with sensitive or dry skin.All-natural vitamin C formula may be too strong.
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The Best Facial Toners

woman applying facial toner to her face on a cotton pad while holding the product and smiling in her bathroom
Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com

Buying Guide for Facial Toners

Girl removing makeup with cosmetic cotton pad at bathroom.

Why should you use a facial toner?

Facial toners are a critical step in your overall skincare routine. Usually designed to occur right after cleansing and before applying serums, masks, and moisturizers, a good toner can work to prep the skin for the next steps. For example, an exfoliating toner is ideal if you follow up with serums containing active ingredients like retinoids or even hyaluronic acid. The toner ensures that active ingredients can better penetrate the skin and be more effective in removing any dead skin.

What should you look for in a facial toner?

  • Skin Type: As a general rule, you should look for toners compatible with your skin type. For example, someone with dry or sensitive skin will want to look for a toner with gentle ingredients that won’t aggravate already-troubled skin.
  • Purpose: You can find toners that are specialized or general in purpose. Classic toners work to shrink the appearance of pores and calm the skin. Still, you can also find toners that pull double-duty, such as incorporating active ingredients like glycolic or lactic acid to boost exfoliation or hyaluronic acid to improve the skin’s moisture retention.
  • Quantity: Facial toners are measured and sold in fluid ounces. The quantity per bottle can vary quite a bit. Smaller ones may run as one to four fluid ounces, while larger ones might be 10 or 12 fluid ounces. If you’ve never used a facial toner before, you may want to start with a smaller bottle to test the product so that you’re not stuck with a huge amount if it doesn’t work for you. Otherwise, a larger bottle with a higher volume may be beneficial since it’ll last you longer.
  • Expiration: Most skincare products have expiration dates. While they’re not always listed in the same way as expiration dates are formatted for food, be mindful of them as you shop for toner. Most toners usually have a 12 to 24-month expiration period. And using them after the recommended timeframe means that they might not be as effective—especially if there are active ingredients in the formula. If you’re concerned that you won’t finish the bottle within the expiration period, buy a smaller quantity.

What are some extra tips for using a facial toner?

Skin care is personal, so there’s no such thing as a universal product that works for everyone. Consider factors such as what skin concerns are most important to you (i.e., hydration, exfoliation, shrinking the appearance of pores, etc.). Also, think about what active ingredients, if any, you want. If you pick a toner with active ingredients, be mindful of your other skincare steps and if there are actives in those as well. Remember that not all active ingredients play well together. So, picking a toner with ingredients that create negative reactions to other items may worsen your skin issues.

Our Picks for the Best Facial Toners

Top Choice

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Facial Toner with Aloe Vera

A classic option that works for most skin types.

Pros: While there’s no such thing as a toner that works for everyone, Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel toner comes pretty close. This classic choice boasts an alcohol-free formula that incorporates real rose water extract for a gentle scent that helps to prep the skin without any stinging or discomfort. This toner balances your skin’s pH and hydrates it before continuing your skincare routine.

Cons: This formula tends to leave skin dry. Additionally, if you’re looking for a naturally scented product, beware that this toner contains fragrance.

Bottom Line: Newbies just beginning to expand beyond a basic wash and moisturize skin care routine will appreciate the accessibility of Thayers, along with its generally well-tolerated formula.


Best for Acne

Pros: There’s nothing fun about acne, especially if it’s a skin condition you’re constantly battling. This La Roche-Posay toner is a two-in-one solution that works to control acne while also helping to exfoliate your skin gently. The salicylic acid works to cleanse your pores of dirt, oil, and debris, while the glycolic acid helps remove dead skin for a smoother texture.

Cons: Unless you have a chronic acne problem, you may find that the one-two punch of two actives (glycolic and salicylic acid) combined into one product might be too astringent for regular use.

Bottom Line:  Anyone who has a severe acne problem will appreciate this relatively gentle formula with just 0.5% salicylic acid that works to keep your pores clean. Combined with the glycolic acid, you can notice improved texture with consistent use.


Best Anti-Aging Choice

InstaNatural Vitamin C Facial Toner

A toner that exfoliates and brightens for a youthful complexion.

Pros: Skin care lovers are not fans of a dull complexion. Thankfully, the InstaNatural Vitamin C Facial Toner combines two effective ingredients to turn back the hands of time. Glycolic acid works to exfoliate dead skin while vitamin C brightens. Combined, you’ll have a more youthful visage with consistent use.

Cons: This toner’s spray may be too intense, with less mist and more droplets. Meanwhile, glycolic acid and vitamin C are actives that can sometimes create irritation when paired together.

Bottom Line: If you want to banish dullness, you can’t go wrong with glycolic acid and vitamin C, two ingredients that work independently to exfoliate and brighten the skin, respectively.


Best for Sensitive Skin

Dickinson's Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner with Rosewater

An affordable choice for all skin care fans.

Pros: Rosewater is a natural ingredient that’s great for the skin. Dickinson’s classic witch hazel toner offers a lux infusion of rosewater for skin care fans looking for an affordable way to pamper their skin. You’ll also get an infusion of vitamin E, which helps hydrate your skin. And you’ll like that this formula is free from paragons, dyes, sulfates, and gluten.

Cons: This specific formula may irritate the skin and leave redness.

Bottom Line: If you’re shopping for an affordable toner, this 16-ounce pick from Dickinson’s is a great option. Along with a mostly natural ingredient list, you’ll get an effective product with the added benefits of rosewater.


Best Pads

Goodal Green Tangerine Vitamin C Toner Pads with 5-in-1 Effect

Skin care that's perfect for when you need to travel.

Pros: Anyone who’s ever had to pack toiletries for a trip knows that liquid items don’t always travel well. If you want to prevent leaks and spills in your luggage, the Goodal Green Tangerine Vitamin C Toner Pads is a smart, compact solution. These five-in-one pads promise to exfoliate, moisturize, brighten, tone, and clarify in one quick step. Plus, it comes with a mini pair of tweezers to quickly remove a pad when you need it.

Cons: If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, you may find this product a bit irritating.

Bottom Line: If you don’t want to give up toning your skin just because you’re traveling, these toner pads from Goodal are a smart option.

Final Thoughts

Toning is an essential step if you want to bring out the best in your skin. However, skin care is personal, and what works for one person may be a dud for someone else. Still, as long as you’re mindful of active ingredients throughout your product lineup and are consistent with your methods, you should be able to find a toner that’s suitable for your needs.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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