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You are here: Skin Care Basics >

Basic steps of facial skin care routine: Toning

Toning is often touted as an essential step in a skin care routine. It is not. At least not always. The only exception is very oily skin. If you have oily skin and after cleansing it remains sticky or oily, you might benefit from applying toner after cleansing. Otherwise toning may do more harm than good.

Most toners contain alcohol and/or witch hazel. Both are drying and irritating, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. If you still feel you need a toner, use a soothing toner free of alcohol or witch hazel, such as alcohol-free toner with Chamomile.

You do not want to strip every last molecule of oil from your skin. Only grime, makeup and excess oil on the surface needs to be removed. The underlying thin coat of fresh sebum is best left undisturbed. Toners, especially alcohol-based ones, tend to strip everything off, leaving the skin dry and/or irritated.

Some experts argue that toners help close pores and tighten cell gaps after cleansing, thus reducing the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin. Whether this is true is debatable. Even assuming it is, most people finish their skin care routine by applying skin care products with active ingredients, in which case you actually want as much penetration as possible. Preceding an active treatment with a toner that closes pores and tightens cell gaps may be counterproductive. After the active product has absorbed into your skin, you can close pores simply by cooling your face. The cold constricts blood vessels and closes pores, producing a toning effect. You can simply step outside if it is a cold time of the year or gently pat your skin with a cold pack (refrigerated but not frozen) for a few seconds. If you are not using any active products, you can tone after cleansing by wiping your face with a chip of frozen green tea. The cold from the ice helps close your pores; the caffeine and tannins in the tea help tighten skin and reduce puffiness; and green tea polyphenols may provide antioxidant benefits. But don't overuse the cold - frequent excessive cooling may increase the risk of developing rosacea (stubborn skin redness).



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