Product reviews · Tips & tricks

Toning – what exactly is it and why do we do it?

This is the second post in a series of three:

Cleansing – what exactly is it & why do we do it?
Toning – what exactly is it & why do we do it?
Moisturising – what exactly is it & why do we do it?

My basic introduction to cleansing went down pretty well! I had people contact me to tell me they found it helpful, easy to understand, and most importantly; that it made skincare accessible and something that felt within reach, financially and otherwise. This is exactly why I started writing here and I’m really glad it’s so far been useful.

Toning is another minefield. When doing basic research for this post, I found a lot of articles contradicting one another about what ingredients to avoid, and why you should definitely purchase this amazing toner that costs upwards of £30… Of course. So, again, I’ve compiled some basic guidance that I stick to that seems to work well for me.

  • Toning follows cleansing in terms of your skincare routine
  • It can be helpful in removing any leftover bits of oil, dirt, sweat, make up or cleanser, and it can also help if your skin feels a little tight after cleansing
  • Toners tend to fall into two categories – hydrating toners (which I use in the morning) and treatment toners (e.g. acid toners, which I use at night)
  • Unlike cleansing, they’re not 100% as necessary a step – for instance, when I travel for a few days I will only bring one (hydrating) toner with me, but would never do that with cleanser
  • Avoid alcohol in hydrating toners as it will dry your skin out (making the hydration bit a little redundant) – treatment toners are a little different and alcohol isn’t always such a no-go for them (I’ve also written a guide to alcohol in skincare)

suneeta tonerMorning toner – I use a hydrating toner after my morning cleanse. The toners I use come in pretty basic bottles, and I pour a few drops on cotton pads for application. You can also get some toners in spray bottles (they’re usually called some kind of ‘face mist’). I’m currently using Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Toner (£7.50 for 200ml) and the Suneeta Orange Blossom and Aloe Vera Skin Toner (£10 for 250ml, £4 for 100ml), particularly when travelling (I have the 25ml sample bottle). Both do the job – hydrating, refreshing, soothing. The former has lasted me a very long time. I’m also a fan of products containing rosewater, it’s good for your skin and I really like the smell. Superdrug Vitamin E Facial Toning Mist (£2.99 for 150ml) and Avene Gentle Toner (£12 for 200ml) have also been recommended by my pal.

Evening toner – as mentioned previously I currently use Pixi Glow Tonic (£18 for 250ml) which is an acid exfoliant. Glycolic acid exfoliates the skin and over time improves skin texture. Acid exfoliation is a lot better than using grainy heavy face washes (like this St Ive’s one). These exfoliators are incredibly harsh and strip your skin of its natural oils, which will then make your skin overproduce oil. Also, the microbeads within a lot of these products are harmful for the environment and sea-life.

I want to try The Ordinary Gylcolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£6.80 for 240ml) which has a higher percentage of glycolic acid than Pixi Glow Tonic and is a fraction of the price. I haven’t tried it personally but having tried two other products from The Ordinary and being incredibly impressed by their quality and price, I would recommend it. From the M&S Advent Calendar I got the Alpha-H Liquid Gold (£33.50 for 100ml), but at that price I won’t be repurchasing (but it’s made me realise how good value the advent calendar was).

I hope you’ve found this helpful and my post on moisturising will be coming soon!

3 thoughts on “Toning – what exactly is it and why do we do it?

  1. Hey A., absolutely love your blog! I just had a question – do you think that a moisturising toner is enough for daytime wear, before applying makeup? Or do you need a proper moisturiser for throughout the day? (I assume you’ll cover this in your moisturising post so I should probably just be more patient lol…) xx


    1. thank you for the kind words! I would probably recommend a proper moisturiser – if you’re finding the ones you’re currently using too heavy for primer & makeup etc to be applied afterwards then chances are they’re just not working for your skin type. moisturising is the one thing I find hardest to keep up with, especially at the start, but it’s as important as the other steps (even though you don’t really see the results as quickly). what are you currently using & what’s your skin type/budget? can see if I can recommend something! x


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