What Is An Exfoliating Toner, And Do I Really Need One?

What Is An Exfoliating Toner, And Do I Really Need One?

Just when you thought you had a grip on the skin universe, we go ahead and combine a toner with an exfoliator. (Apologies! Sorta.) We know you will grow to love this dynamic product as much as other iconic duos: peanut butter and banana, fresh linen on shaved legs, Justin Long and Kate Bosworth.  

Do I really need one? A toner? Perhaps not. An exfoliating toner? We think yes. (Sunscreen? Always.)

What is a toner:

A water-based product designed to remove whatever’s left on your skin after cleansing. Lingering makeup, dirt, oil. All before you carry on with more treatment products like serums, and moisturisers. 

Think of it like the primer of the skincare world. 

Different types of toners:

It’s often suggested that toners fall into two main categories: an astringent toner (this is where we’ll be playing!) or a balancing toner. The latter is specific to solutions that help balance the pH of the skin. A necessary step when faces were washed with soap Back In The Day™. But cleansers have come a long, long way since the 80s. 

Astringent toners and exfoliating toners can be thought of as one and the same. They’re formulated with chemical actives like alpha hydroxy acid (AHAs), the most common being lactic acid, glycolic acid, and mandelic acid. Beta hydroxy acid (BHA), like salicylic acid. And poly hydroxy acids (PHAs), like gluconolactone. 

What does an exfoliating toner do:

The acids found in exfoliating toners help break down the ‘glue’ that holds dead skin cells together; forcing old, dull, cloggy skin cells to bugger off, and allowing shiny new skin cells to come through. Complementing the natural, regenerative skin cycle. It’s a leave-on-the-skin solution too. No need to wash off. Instead, let those ingredients sink in, get to work, and establish a real glow from within. 

Exfoliating toners aren’t necessary for every face. Nor do you have to use them all the time (it can be a one week use for intense pre-event glow, or one month use to really refresh the skin, before giving it a break). 

They target very specific concerns, but the key is knowing what ingredients to look out for, and similarly, which to avoid. 

  • Sensitivity and dullness 
    • Lactic acid (nothing more!)
    • Glycerin 
  • Acne, blackheads and congestion
    • Salicylic acid 
    • Willow bark extract 
  • Fine lines and ageing
    • Glycolic acid 
    • Mandelic acid  

How to use an exfoliating toner:

Directly after cleansing. Apply exfoliating toner to your hands or a cotton pad, and sweep this over the face, neck and chest. Follow on with serums, moisturisers, and SPF of a morning. 

Important! When using AHAs, your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun. So wearing daily SPF becomes even more crucial. 

Skincare in and of itself can be quite indulgent. So know that you never need more than the core cleanse (cleanser), nourish (moisturise) and protect (SPF).  But if you want to hone in on a particular concern, exfoliating toners are a very effective way to deeply clean, clear, and renew your skin.