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Let’s Talk about Toners

Let’s Talk about Toners

Here’s how to reap the benefits of this powerhouse ingredient

Though they’re not intimidating or difficult to use, there’s still some confusion around toners and how they actually benefit skin. Toners have been around for decades, and yet they’ve bubbled into the skin care conversation once again. But with new products on the market, it begs the question: do you need to use a toner?

How toners work
Let’s start with the 411 on this elixir and how they work. “A toner is one of the first products you leave on your skin after you cleanse. In general, toners are designed to rebalance your skin’s pH,” says Skin Therapist Maicy Dizon. “But ultimately, other functions vary depending on how the product is formulated.” Dizon says you can use toners in a myriad of ways, including as a secondary step post cleanse (to remove any lingering makeup or product your cleanser may have missed), or to refresh skin with a boost of hydration.

But do you really need one? Without question, says Dizon. Not only do toners offer their own, skin-beautifying benefits, they’re also the MVPs that support the way the other products in your routine function—and benefit your skin. “Toners improve the absorption of other steps in your regime. Sometimes adding the simple step of a toner makes all the difference in complementing your favourite serum or moisturizer,” she says. Toners and serums work exceptionally well together, as the toner “acts a damp base for the serum to grip onto.”

Dizon uses this analogy to describe it: “Imagine your skin is like a sponge. If you drop a dry sponge into a sink full of water, the sponge will sit on top of the water before eventually sinking in, but if you take a damp sponge and toss it in the water, it’s going to sink in the water and stay submerged.” The same applies to products on the skin. When your products have a damp base to adhere to, they’re more easily accepted into the skin. “So if you’ve ever had a product feel like it was just sitting on your face, try using a quick spritz of toner beforehand!” A good starter spritz is our Multi Active Toner for a refreshing spritz (thanks to Lavender, Balm Mint and Arnica) that also hydrates and conditions skin before you apply the Dermalogica moisturizer that works best for your skin type.

New and Improved
When we think of old-school toners, we’re confronted with images of alcohol-laden tonics that strip “evil” oil from the surface of the skin, leaving a squeaky-clean and almost “tightened” feeling. Initially, those toners were designed as a secondary step to catch any remaining makeup, product or build-up that your cleanser may have missed. And while those toners still exist, it’s best to steer clear of products that use harsh ingredients such as alcohol, “as these can over-strip the skin of beneficial natural oils,” says Dizon. But if controlling oil production is just what your skin needs, our All Over Toner combines Salicylic Acid and Sesame extract to minimize the oils on the skin's surface (the same oil that causes breakouts). As well, this mist-on toner contains over 12 skin-loving botanicals such as Lavender, Argan and Camellia Sinensis, which help minimize aggravated skin. Mist away for clearer skin!

Make your skin care work better
“To reduce the need to use your toners as a secondary cleansing step, Dermalogica is big on doing a double-cleanse routine,” says Dizon. “This ensures that you break down any sweat, oil, makeup, leftover skin care and pollution with an oil-based cleanser, before getting into your secondary cleanse.” As well, it allows your skin to reap the benefits of your secondary cleanser and allow for those ingredients to work more efficiently in giving your skin a deeper clean. One of our bestsellers, Ultracalming Mist, is a superstar when it comes to calming redness and sensitivity, while protecting skin against environmental aggressions.

But what about essences? Aren’t they the same as toners? Essences are a hybrid of toners and serums, says Dizon. Think of them as being heavier than a toner, but lighter than a serum. An essence is usually patted onto the skin using your hand rather than being patted on with a cotton pad. In the Dermalogica realm, “mists” and “toners” are used interchangeably, says Dizon.

Make it mist
A little known Dermalogica fact? All of our toners are only available in spray-on formats, which means you’ll use less waste, and get more out of the product (how many times have you tipped a toner container upside down only to accidentally pour out half the container?) And the ingredients are designed to hydrate and infuse skin with beneficial ingredients, such as Aloe Vera, Pea Extract and botanical actives. Misting means you’ll be keeping your skin as damage free as possible, says Dizon. “The spray format is also much more gentle on the skin as it keeps you from pulling and tugging, which can lead to fine lines and wrinkles over time.”

How to use them
Toners should be used over your entire face, says Dizon. Two or three spritzes helps to ensure that “everything from your serums to even your eye treatments absorb more effectively into the skin,” she says. A toner is best used twice daily after cleansing and exfoliating, but before you apply serum and moisturizers. Remember, you want the help of the toner to help the serum and moisturizer penetrate into skin.

And when in doubt, whether you need a physical or mental refresher throughout the day, toners are your go-to, says Dizon. “They are especially useful if you work in a dry, temperature-controlled environment, like an office building, or if you’re working from home indefinitely.”

Ready to fill your (virtual) shopping cart with toners yet?

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