In the past, many of us have avoided toners because they’re harsh, drying, and irritating. But the truth is, it’s not the toner itself that’s causing the problems, it’s the alcohol that’s in the toner that is problematic.
So, why do they put alcohol in toners in the first place? Mainly because, in the past, it was thought to be the best way to kill bacteria and prevent acne. But now we know that stripping your skin of necessary moisture and irritating it even further actually makes acne worse.
Thankfully, Korean beauty brands know that toners don’t need to contain alcohol. Their true purpose is to balance the skin’s pH, purify, and add hydration. That’s why toner is considered a vital step in the famous Korean skin care routine.
Here’s why K-Beauty experts say you need a toner and how to choose the one that’s best for your skin.
Why a Toner is Vital to Your Skin Care Routine
Whether you’re already a dedicated user of the 10-step Korean skincare routine, or you’re just learning about it now, including a Korean toner in your routine can do amazing things for your skin Here’s why you shouldn’t skimp on this beneficial step in your daily skincare regimen.
Korean Toners Purify and Nurture the Skin
Korean beauty brands avoid synthetic, irritating ingredients in favour of gentle, natural ingredients that nurture and purify the skin. You’ll often see ingredients like flower essences, hyaluronic acid, seaweed extract, grapeseed oil, and amino acids in Korean toners.
But, can a toner address acne if it doesn’t contain alcohol? Absolutely! Calming the skin is actually much more effective than drying it out, so ingredients like chamomile and propolis are added to fight bacteria without stripping or irritating the skin.
In K-beauty, toners are just one step in a process that’s designed to banish bacteria and remove dirt, oil, and dead skin that can cause acne and premature ageing. Toner is used after a double cleanse because it catches any impurities that were left behind, calms the skin after cleansing, and adds hydration back into the skin so it doesn’t dry out.
Korean Toners Rebalance the Skin’s pH After Cleansing
The nourishing, hydrating ingredients in Korean toners are also important for rebalancing the skin’s pH after cleansing. Your skin has a natural pH of about 5.5, but environmental pollution, makeup, and the cleansing process can alter it dramatically. In fact, pure water has a pH of 7, so simply splashing water on your face can throw off its balance.
Korean toners are formulated to mimic the skin’s natural pH, and when you apply them to your skin, they help it return to its natural balance. This is important because unbalanced skin is prone to acne, dryness, oiliness, and premature ageing.
Korean Toners Help Your Other Skin Care Products Work Better
Your skin is a lot like a sponge. When it’s dried out, it’s hard to rehydrate it again. But, when it’s damp, it absorbs more water easily.
Using a toner before treatments like essences, serums, and moisturizers allow them to be absorbed more easily. That’s because a toner preps the skin by adding hydration and balancing its pH.
If you skip using a toner, especially if you have dry skin, your other products are likely to just sit on top of your skin and never be absorbed. Balancing the skin and adding hydration with a toner allows treatments to penetrate the skin more easily.
Here’s How to Choose the Right Toner for Your Skin
If you’re ready to try a K-beauty toner, look for one that’s formulated for your skin type and skincare concerns. If your skin is on the oily side, you want a toner that’s lightweight and less emollient.
On the other hand, if your skin is dry, look for lots of humectants, especially hyaluronic acid, which actually draws moisture to the skin from the air.
Here are some common ingredients used in Korean toners, plus their benefits:
- Amino Acids: Calms and soothes acne-prone skin
- Propolis Extract: Fights bacteria and adds lightweight hydration
- Tea Tree Extract: Kills bacteria and fights acne
- Lavender: Balances skin’s pH
- Maple Sap: Livens up dull skin and hydrates
- Aloe Vera: Calms the skin and fights redness and inflammation
- Chamomile: Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, clears clogged pores
- Niacinamide: Fights inflammation and brightens hyperpigmentation
- Alpha Hydroxy Acid: Resurfaces the skin and fades dark spots
- Turmeric Root Extract: Fights UV damage
- Thyme Extract: Protects against free radical damage
- Witch Hazel: Tones and tightens
- Squalane: Hydrates and plumps the skin, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, balances oil production
It turns out that toners aren’t just for oily, acne-prone, teenage skin anymore. Everyone can benefit from adding a Korean toner to their skincare routine. There are limitless options to choose from, no matter what skin type you have or what skin issues you’re hoping to address.