Nowadays we are no longer using Grandma's toner. "Formulations have evolved to allow toners to be much less irritating to the skin than previous versions. Most are now alcohol free, as alcohol was the big drying ingredient in toners," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in the Department of Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
"I like toners in my patients for a variety of uses, ranging from setting makeup to acting as a pre-moisturizer for dry skin prior to applying your regular cream or lotion," says Joel Schlessinger, M.D., FAAD, FAACS, board certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon and president of LovelySkin.com. Additionally, in some cases, such as with the use of potentially acidic products such as glycolic acid or amino fruit acids, these can come in handy. "I like our very own toner as it contains three percent amino fruit acids, derived from sugar cane buds, and is a refreshing product," says Schlessinger.
Facial toners perform an important balancing act between controlling excess oil, refining pores and providing anti-aging nourishment. "The other day a 40-something asked me for a recommendation for a hydrating toner, specifically one with hyaluronic acid. It turns out that hydrating toner is not an oxymoron. I recommended 100% Pure Jasmine Green Tea Tonique ($19 in the shop), which fits the bill perfectly plus some with its antioxidants," says Marta Wohrle from Truth in Aging.
Toners are effective at deep pore cleansing and making pores "appear" smaller. "They smooth the skin while drying oil-prone T-zone areas of the face," says Dr. Coyle S. Connolly, board certified dermatologist and president of Connolly Dermatology. Acne-prone skin will often benefit from a daily toner.
As women are using more and more products, they are often looking to cut back on steps in the bathroom. "I usually recommend that a toner is the first step to go. The newest facial cleansers do an excellent job of removing both dirt and oil, making toners unnecessary for the average person. The exception to the rule is the person with extremely oily skin, who needs that extra kick," says Dr. Zeichner.
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