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If you haven’t yet made a toner a part of your daily skincare routine, it’s high time you think about doing so. We know, we know, the word ‘toner’ can make you think of that harsh, smelly stuff that you used as a teenager back in the day, the stuff that left your skin feeling stripped and bone dry. But trust us, the latest batch of toners are nothing like their predecessors. The latest formulas are infused with all kinds of good-for-your skin ingredients, delivering a long list of benefits, with variants available to treat any and every complexion concern. Regardless of the exact type you choose, toners are universal in their ability to act as an added level of cleansing insurance.
Because no matter how great of a face wash you use, or how diligent your face washing technique may be, a cleanser alone simply can’t get rid of everything that’s on your skin. So while washing your face can help great rid of the big stuff (think makeup and sunscreen), following that up with a toner can then help eliminate any of the smaller residue leftover, think excess oil and other assorted gunk and grime that, if left on your skin, can up the likelihood of clogged pores and breakouts. Best of all? Not only is there now no shortage of types of toner you can try, there’s also long list that you can get at the drugstore at beyond budget-friendly prices. Start your shopping with any one of these top choices
Best Overall: Thayer’s Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Toner with Rose Petal
This rose-water based toner (which users say also has a pleasant, light rose scent) strikes the perfect balance between absorbing unwanted oil without stripping skin. It contains moisture-attracting glycerin, coupled with astringent witch hazel (which also just happens to be certified organic and grown on a family farm). The addition of aloe vera gives it added soothing properties, too. The brand has been around since 1874, so clearly they’re doing something right.
Best for Oily Skin: Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner
This brand offers countless different takes on toner, but this original can’t be beat, particularly if you have oily skin. The brand has relied on the same witch hazel formula since 1866, using a unique distilled kind of witch hazel that removes impurities without diluting it. Translation? The ingredient is more effective than ever at removing excess oil. This toner is also fragrance-free, and consistently pulls in tons of five-star reviews from loyal customers.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: C&C by Clean & Clear Tough Love Acne Clearing Toner
Time to say buh-bye to blemishes. This oil-free toner uses oil-dissolving salicylic acid to keep pores clear, warding off blackheads, whiteheads, and red pimples alike. What’s so unique is that despite its breakout-busting prowess, it’s still gentle enough that you can use it up to three times daily without irritating your skin. Bonus points for the refreshing and invigorating peppermint scent.
Best for Dry Skin: Garnier SkinActive Hydrating Facial Mist
Okay, this may be called a mist, but for all intents and purposes, you can use it just as you would a toner (although you don’t even need a cotton pad to swipe it on, just spritz and go!). Made with 99 percent naturally-derived ingredients (and no parabens, dyes, silicones, or sulfates), it uses aloe juice to deeply hydrate dry skin. Best of all, you can use it post-cleansing (it creates a great base for makeup), post-makeup to help set it, or anytime throughout the day when your complexion needs a quick pick-me-up.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Simple Soothing Facial Toner
This checks all of the important criteria to look for when choosing a product for sensitive skin. It’s free of drying alcohol and potentially-irritating fragrance, and contains soothing and good-for-your skin ingredients, namely soothing chamomile extract, softening allatonin, and restorative pro-vitamin B5. Made with triple-purified water to hydrate skin and better prep it for moisturizer, it also contains witch hazel to help absorb any excess oil.
Best Exfoliating Formula: Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic
This toner has a cult-like following, and for good reason. Not only do you get the astringent benefits of witch hazel and the soothing benefits of aloe vera, this also has the distinction of containing a five percent concentration of glycolic acid. With continued use, that glycolic acid helps dissolve dead skin cells, leaving your skin looking brighter, radiant, more glowy…you get the picture.
Still, because the glycolic acid in here has already been partially neutralized, there’s no need to worry about the potential for any kind of unsightly irritation. Happy customers comment on how amazing and bright it makes their skin look, especially after using it for a while.
Best Natural Formula: Burt’s Bees Rosewater Toner
The brand may be known for their classic lip balm, but amidst their skincare offerings this one stands out. It’s hard to find a toner more natural than this one, which is ninety-nine point nine percent natural, to get specific.
While it does contain some witch hazel, it actually uses rosewater for its mild astringent properties (bonus points for giving it a lightly floral scent, too). Aloe vera and glycerin soothe and hydrate, leaving your skin feeling completely fresh and clean, but somehow supremely soft at the same time.
Our writers spent 6 hours researching the most popular drugstore toners on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 40 different toners overall, screened options from 30 different brands and manufacturers, read over 35 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 10 of the toners themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.