Tune up your skin with toner

Cleansing skin twice daily is an important step in any skin care regime, male or female. People tend to focus on cleansing and moisturising their skin, but many ignore the important middle step of toning.

While facial cleansers are vital for removing makeup, dirt and excess oil, most leave some impurities behind; some may even leave cleansing particles behind. Toning ensures complete removal from the skin of all cleansing particles, makeup and dirt. They freshen and tone up the skin and prepare a clean surface ready for hydration and makeup through the gentle exfoliation of dead skin cells. Aside from all that, toning forms a refreshing and cooling part of a skin care regime.

Part of the essential role of toners is to restore the skin’s natural pH balance. When you wash your face with some facial washes and cleansers, the pH balance of the skin is distorted leading to skin working overtime to restore pH levels. The process of skin restoring the pH levels on its own can take up as much as half and hour or more. By using a skin toner, the pH level of your skin is restored instantly.

You should always choose a toner appropriate for your skin type. A wide variety of toners are available, some of which provide deeper cleansing, some are extra moisturising, some contain alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) to exfoliate dead skin cells, and some are gentle. Whatever your skin type and needs, you should try to avoid toners that have a base of alcohol, which dries the skin and harms the soluble collagen below the surface of the skin. Choose instead an alcohol-free toner for your skin type.

There are many toners that contain natural ingredients including herbs and essential oils. The common herbs and essential oils used in toners include witch hazel, geranium, honey, lemon, ivy, sage, nettle and burdock. Rosewater for normal or dry/sensitive skin and witch hazel for oilier skins are ideal bases for toners. Rosewater helps keep skin and face moisturised, fresh and balances the pH levels. Witch hazel has a tendency to dry the skin so it’s ideal to combine it with moisturisers such as vitamin E or honey. Oily skin benefits from juniper or lemongrass whereas drier skins would benefit from rose or sandalwood.

Apply the skin toner to a cotton ball and sweep it gently across your face using smooth, gentle upward strokes or sprayed on the face. The cotton wool should come out relatively clean when toning. If it’s not clean it indicates the cleansing has not been done properly. Don’t be tempted to tone the skin whenever you feel it has become dirty. It should be used only after the skin has completed a cleansing routine and not as a substitute for cleansing. Your toner must function as a toner and not as a cleanser.

Picture caption: Toning ensures complete removal from the skin of all cleansing particles, makeup and dirt.