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Toners and astringents are sometimes interchanged together. But, toners are actually the friendly liquids while astringents the harsher ones. Astringents dries out the skin because of the high alcohol content, whereas toners hydrates the skin. You cannot overuse a toner but you can with astringents.

In Korean skin care routine, hydration is the core of the skin care. When the skin is well hydrated, the skin is less prone to wrinkles, dehydration and breakouts. The reason why Korean toners are formulated for this aim.

There are different toners that cater for your needs:


  • Clarifying toners like (the best selling and always out stock!) Mizon AHA & BHA Clean Toners, are used after face cleansers to remove dirt residues left behind by cleansers and at the same time balances the pH of the skin. Your skin loves pH below 7. When you washed your face with high pH cleansers, your skin needs few minutes (I remember reading it around 15 mins or so) to go back to its normal pH. With toners like that from Mizon, the wait is shortened. PS. look for BHA (Salicylic Acid) in your toners or other skin products if you have acne and other skin breakouts you want to treat.


  • Hydration toners for specific skin needs  like Etude House Moistfull Collagen Facial Toners, are toners that specifically target your skin concerns, in this case, is skin aging. Collagen being the star ingredient brings back the skin’s elasticity lost as the skin ages. There are also toners that cater for large pores, acnes and other skin concerns. So look for a toner that best help your skin problems. 


  • First essences are essences and at the same time treated as toners. Example is the world’s most famous Missha’s Time Revolution The First Treatment Intensive Essence. They are called first essences since they are the first product you use after your face cleansers. These essences/toners are packed with active ingredients that hydrates your skin and prepares it to absorb other skin care products in the queue.


How to use toners?

There are 3 ways you can use toners:


  1. Pour an ample amount of your favorite toner in a cotton pad and smoothly glide it around face to remove dirt residues.

TIP: never ever vigorously wipe your face with cotton pad containing toners (it could be addicting sometime, especially when you're seeing yellow stuff or dirt wiped off), because this could strip off facial oils, which in turn makes your skin too oily!

  1. Pour ample amount in your palm and spread it all over face. Cup your hands and make gentle pressure in the skin. The warmth of hands helps the toner to be absorbed better in the skin. Or pat face gently until toner is absorbed.
  1. There are also sprayable toners/essences called mists. Example of this is Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Mist Moist/Sleek. All you do is spray over face after cleansing face and pat it dry for absorption. Or use it as an essence and spray over skin anytime of the day over makeup. This will give your skin continuous dose of hydration.

++ use toners in the morning and evening, or in the evening only or in the morning only, depending on your skin concerns.

So, how do you know if your toner is good for you?


  • First of all, toners should never dry your skin! Because this would mean that the toner had stripped off your face sebums. We don’t want that.
  • Second, presence of minimal stinging that should go away in few seconds should be okay. This could happen when you just exfoliated, which makes your skin a little sensitive. Otherwise there shouldn’t be any stinging.
  • Third, no tight feeling after use. Some think that this is a good sign that a product is working for your skin, BUT this is actually a sign that you just dehydrated your skin from stripping off natural face oils!
  • Fourth, obvious hydration effect in your skin. Can’t describe it exactly, but you will know once you found the right one. It would make your skin smooth and healthy looking.



Toners are indeed an important part of the skin care routine. It helps get rid of dirt residues your cleansers skipped, balances the skin pH, prepares skin to absorb skin products better, hydrates skin and help treat skin concerns. For beginners, it is difficult to find the right toners for you. If I have one advice to give: always read product ingredients. Look for active ingredients that would actually treat your skin well. If it dries your skin, dump it right away. It is not for you!

What’s your favorite toner? Do you have good experiences with them? Share your thoughts. I would be very happy to know. :)

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