The year 2017 has seen a massive revival in toner—and frankly, we are all for it. Once reviled for the strong alcohol smell and stinging sensation it left on the skin, toner has gone through a total transformation. Today, you’ll find as many toners on the market as there are skin problems in the world!
So, now that you don’t have to worry about being in pain, here are the benefits of applying toner daily. First, toners remove the last traces of dirt that cling to your pores after you’ve cleansed. Second, they prepare your face for the rest of your skincare regimen (the same way primer prepares it for makeup). Finally, depending on the formula you choose, toners are the gateway to clear and glowing skin. They can reduce oil, minimize pores, provide gentle exfoliation, and even add an extra layer of moisture.

To figure out the kind of toner your skin needs, check out the guide below! Once you’ve gotten the basics down, your days as a toner noob will be over.

When someone mentions the word “toner,” this kind is probably the closest to what you have in mind. Thin yet potent, these watery toners are designed to control greasy skin. Don’t be frightened by the “astringent” element—many of these toners do not contain alcohol and instead rely on milder antiseptics like tea tree and apple cider vinegar.
USAGE: If you have completely oily skin, you may apply an astringent toner all over your face. If you have combination skin, apply it only over your T-Zone, where your face is the oiliest. And if you have dry skin, skip this toner altogether (there’s a better one for you below). Again, don’t be afraid of these formulas! As long as they’re followed by proper moisture care, the only side effects you’ll notice are tighter pores and mattified skin.

  • Innisfree Bija Trouble Skin, on sale at P810 (limited time only). Shop it here.
  • Skin Genie Apple Cider Vinegar Toner, P250. Shop it here.
  • Neutrogena Alcohol Free Toner, P299. Shop it here.
  • V&M Cucumber Guava Leaf Skin Clearing Toner, on sale at P266 (limited time only). Shop it here.

Popularized in South Korea, this toner will impress you with its unique texture, especially if you’re used to liquids. It’s a cross between a moisturizing essence and pore-minimizing toner, and its consistency is that of a runny gel. Toner-essences are ideal for dry and sensitive skin because they nourish, soften, and refresh. They’ve even gained extra fame for their role in the 7-Skin Method: a K-beauty technique that involves applying seven layers of toner.
USAGE: If you have dehydrated or sensitive skin, you may apply a toner-essence all over your face (the more layers, the better). If you have combination skin, concentrate your application on the dry regions of your face (like your cheeks and forehead), then pat what’s left over your oily regions. If you have oily skin, you may also use a toner-essence as long as it has pore-minimizing, sebum-controlling properties. Look for phyto-oligo and snail mucinthat’s the good stuff right there.

  • Dear Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner, P880. Shop it here.
  • Benton Snail Bee High Content Skin, P900. Shop it here.
  • Farmstay Grape Stem Cell Toner, on sale at P590 (limited time only). Shop it here.
  • DewyTree Ultra Vitalizing Snail Essence Water, P1,299. Shop it here.

The word “tonic” is conventionally associated with strong medicine—and in a way, that’s what this toner is. Tonics are toners with actives: highly-concentrated ingredients that target specific issues instantly. Thus, tonics can be used by any skin type—or better put, there is a tonic for every skin type. Most tonics also contain antioxidants like green tea and Vitamin C, so even if your skin is “normal,” it can level up to sensational.
USAGE: If you have coarse, dull skin, look for a tonic that contains alpha hydroxy acids. AHAs help remove dead skin cells, refine texture, and brighten overall tone. If you have oily, acne-prone skin, look for a tonic that contains beta hydroxy acids. BHAs clear out clogged pores and control blackheads and whiteheads. Now, if you have a dry, flaky face, you’ll want a tonic with hyaluronic acid—this boosts moisture and plumps up the skin. There are many more actives for other skin woes, which you can read about here.

  • COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner, on sale at P657 (limited time only). Shop it here.
  • Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner, P800. Shop it here.
  • Skin Vitals Radiant Rose Tonic, P2,035. Shop it here.
  • VMV Illuminants+ Treatment Toner, on sale at P1,967 (limited time only). Shop it here.

So, which toner is taking over your skincare regimen?