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Toner might be the most misunderstood skincare product of all time. Many people have a rather murky understanding of it. If they use it, they only do so because they feel like they should. If they don't use it, it's because they associate it with the stripping, alcohol-filled formulas of past adolescent acne struggles.
But thanks to newer formulations, skin toner today isn’t the astringent artifact of your teenage years. Nor is it a frivolous skincare accouterment (though some toners do overpromise). Somewhere between plain water and an essence, toners prep skin after cleansing by rebalancing pH and allowing later skincare products to permeate better. In other words, modern toners are gentler, more effective, and more nourishing than those of the past. Plus, they target all kinds of different skin concerns.
Keep scrolling to see the best toners for every single skin type.
Best Overall: Acwell Licorice Toner
Waiting lists usually indicate hype more than anything, but this toner has sold out over and over again for good reason. Overall, it preps skin incredibly well for everything you’re layering on top. This brightening, soothing, moisturizing toner relies on a mix of licorice, peony, and green tea extracts to clarify and plump up the skin.
The consistency is slightly sticky but on the watery side. It absorbs within seconds, depending on how dry your skin is and leaves no film. Besides the ingredient list, the Acwell toner’s low pH level is also of interest: Ideally, skin hovers at a pH level of 5.5 (making it acidic), which helps fight bacteria and other contaminants. The Acwell toner rebalances the skin’s pH after cleansing to bring it back to this state.
Best Budget: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
This gentle acid toner fulfills two important criteria: It works very well without odd side effects, and you can snag it for a bargain. The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid Toning Solution comes in a generous 240 mL size (the Acwell toner, to compare, is 150 mL) with an equally appealing ingredient list.
Glycolic acid, a gentle alpha hydroxy acids, sloughs off dead skin cells, which leaves skin glowing without aggressive peeling. Its tiny molecule size allows it to penetrate deeper into the skin, which is why it’s so effective. This, plus circulation-boosting ginseng, boosts radiance, clarifies skin tone, and refines texture. As with any other acid toner, make sure to wear sunscreen, even if you apply the toner at night.
Best Drugstore: Pixi Glow Tonic
The peach-colored Glow Tonic comes in a simple plastic bottle with gold lettering that makes the toner feel a little fancier than the usual drugstore fare. The solution itself leans on the watery side. Despite the glycolic acid, the Glow Tonic is gentle enough to be mistaken for a regular toner. After the initial tingling dissipates, that’s it. There’s no rawness or dry flakes, only softer, brighter skin.
Interested in learning more about this product? Check out our Pixi Glow Tonic review.
Best for Oily Skin: Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner
This Origins toner is one of the most popular products for oily skin. It's formulated with saw palmetto, mint, and salicylic acid. Saw palmetto clears skin, mint cools and refreshes, and salicylic acid clears pores and prevents breakouts.
Take a peek at some of the other best toners for oily skin you can buy.
Best for Dry Skin: Earth's Recipe Energy-Boosting Toner
This Korean toner really only does one thing and one thing only—hydrate—but it does so very, very well. It acts as a moisture magnet, which anyone dealing with dry, flaky skin will appreciate. The Energy-Boosting Toner contains Tremella mushroom, otherwise known as snow mushroom, a fluffy white fungus that can hold 500 times its weight in water. Glycerin and butylene glycol feature high on the ingredient list as additional humectants that deliver a swift dose of moisture. It is one of the most nourishing toners on the market.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Toner
Acne is frustrating and annoying, but that doesn't mean you can't find natural products to fight it. This Burt's Bees toner, for instance, is super affordable and contains a variety of effective anti-acne ingredients like witch hazel, lemongrass, and willow bark extract. It instantly clears pores and prevents future breakouts, and that's according to the reviews.
Check out our other reviews of the best drugstore toners available to purchase online.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Avène Gentle Toning Lotion
Avène's Gentle Toning Lotion is specifically formulated for easily irritated skin. It uses the brand's famous spring water to hydrate and soothe while silicates form a barrier against pollutants and environmental aggressors (that's why this toner is perfect for using in the morning especially).
Best for Combination Skin: Kiehl's Calendula-Extract Alcohol-Free Toner
Here's a customer favorite. This toner is formulated with calendula leaves that float around the bottle freely (calendula is an ayurvedic herb that soothes skin). It also has inflammation-fighting allantoin and hydrating burdock root. We love how soothing and cooling it feels on the skin, and other customers seem to agree.
Best for Large Pores: Paula's Choice Pore-Reducing Toner
If large pores are the bane of your existence, look to this formula that can help shrink the look of pores. There's no product out there that can get rid of your pores, so minimizing their appearance is the next best thing and that's where this toner comes up big. Simply saturate a cotton pad with the powerful liquid and sweep it over your skin (paying extra attention to congested areas) to help it feel clean, refreshed, and balanced.
Best Classic: Biologique Recherche Lotion P50
Given the extensive amount of writing about the Lotion P50, it’s tempting to say it’s overhyped, but it’s a cult classic for a reason. The Lotion P50 is known for its awful smell which, paradoxically, underpins a rite of passage. Once fans see the results, they quickly get past the odor. Oddly enough, the Lotion P50 isn’t necessarily a toner—it’s just often used as one. In any case, it regulates pH, hydrates, controls sebum, and brightens thanks to a potent mix of AHAs and BHAs, plus onion and vinegar.