The Best Toners Based on Your Skin Type and Concerns

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The 15 Best Toners in 2022

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

A toner may seem like a skippable step in your skincare routine, but if you’re not yet using one, it might be worth considering doing so. Forget any preconceived notions about toner you may have from your pre-teen days; today's formulas are more advanced than ever, boasting a ton of skin benefits. (To answer your burning Q, no, toners are no longer just for oily skin.) 

After the cleansing step in your routine, a toner is a great way to both ensure your complexion is totally clean and give it an extra dose of active ingredients. Whether your skin is sensitive and looking for soothing benefits, acne-prone and needing excess oil removal, or dry and thirsting for moisture, the right toner can help you out. Seek acids that will gently exfoliate to reduce hyperpigmentation or get relief from redness and irritation with vitamin B3 and other hydrating ingredients.

Ready to try one? Check out our list of the best toners below.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Lucy Chen is a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, FL. She specializes in Mohs surgery, as well as skincare services and chronic skin conditions.

Best Overall: Laneige Essential Power Skin Toner

4.5
Laneige Essential Power Skin Toner

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Free of parabens and phthalates

  • Options for oily and dry skin

What We Don't Like
  • Includes fragrance

While you can find a toner tailored to your specific skin needs, this do-it-all is a top choice to simultaneously address all issues. Birch sap and mineral water impart plenty of hydration, though it also gently exfoliates. Another plus: There are two variants, one for balanced to dry skin and one for oily to combination skin. 

Active Ingredients: Glutamic acid, magnesium sulfate, barberry fig extract | Skin Type: Balanced, dry | Benefits: Hydrates and exfoliates | Size: 6.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

laneige essential power skin toner

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi 

What Our Testers Say

"The Laneige toner has made my skin feel healthier and more supple. It’s returned my skin to the way it’s supposed to be." Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

Best Budget: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

3.7
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Ulta

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Generous size

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • High potency needs conservative use

At less than the cost of lunch, this exfoliating toner would be a steal, but because you’re also getting a jumbo, 8-ounce bottle, you’re really doing your wallet a favor. Not to mention that it contains glycolic acid, one of the best exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids there is, to remove dead skin cells and leave your complexion radiant. FYI: It is potent, so start with using it a few times during the week, and work your way up in frequency as your skin builds tolerance.

Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, rose water | Skin Type: All | Benefits: Exfoliates and eases redness | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: Dickinson's Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner with Rosewater

Dickinson's Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner with Rosewater
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Alcohol-free

  • Generous size

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

Pick up this guy during your next trip to the drugstore. Consider it a slightly more mild version of the OG version. It still boasts a potent concentration of witch hazel for purifying and oil-absorbing purposes but is alcohol-free to avoid the potential for any unnecessary dryness. On top of that, there’s also hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to keep skin nice and soft.

Active Ingredients: Witch hazel | Skin Type: All | Benefits: Cleanses and hydrates | Size: 16 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Large Pores: Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

5
Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Recyclable bottle

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • May strip skin if overused

Here’s the bad news: You can’t change the actual size of your pores. The good news? You can make them look smaller and less noticeable by clearing out the gunk and grime that gets lodged inside them, stretching them out, and making them appear more prominent. For that, this toner is king. It helps keep pores clear while also boasting plenty of soothing ingredients to tamp down any redness in the process. A bonus? “The addition of niacinamide can help minimize hyperpigmentation, reduce wrinkles, and protect against free radicals,” says Chen.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Oily | Benefits: Reduces excess oil | Size: 6.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

 Byrdie / Bianca Lambert 

What Our Tester Says

"I had zero irritation, my active breakout became less inflamed, and I could layer my retinol without my skin being overstimulated. I also got immense satisfaction from looking at my cotton pad and seeing the toner capture the debris left on my skin even after a double-cleanse." — Bianca Lambert, Product Tester

Best for Sensitive Skin: Renee Rouleau Moisture Infusion Toner

Renee Rouleau Moisture Infusion Toner

 Courtesy of Renee Rouleau

What We Like
  • Doubles as a primer or setting spray

  • Great for retinol users

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you’re dealing with redness and/or irritation, you may instinctually want to avoid a toner, but go ahead and try this one on the recommendation of Byrdie Associate General Editor Lindsey Metrus. Packed with essential fatty acids plus soothing botanicals and vitamins, it quells redness and calms skin with each swipe; it’s even a good option if you have rosacea. The formula is also great to use if you’re just getting started on a retinoid, as it can help minimize the likelihood of ending up irritation, notes Chen, who’s also a fan and agrees that it’s choice for those with sensitive skin.

Active Ingredients: Vitamin C, niacinamide | Skin Type: Dry | Benefits: Hydrates and calms | Size: 6 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Editors Say

"Renee Rouleau's Moisture Infusion Toner is one of my absolute favorite formulas. It's hydrating, bouncy, and so refreshing to apply. It's a blend of essential vitamins and omega 3, 6, and 9 to calm redness and/or irritation—with an unbelievably silky coat of moisture." Hallie Gould, Editorial Director

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Toner
What We Like
  • Doubles as a primer

  • Affordable

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • May irritate sensitive skin

  • High potency means conservative use

A toner can be an invaluable tool in your battle against blemishes. The key is choosing the right one that will target excess oil and keep pores clear without over-drying your skin (and ironically end up triggering more oil and breakouts). Enter this guy, which relies on a minimal-yet-effective amount of salicylic acid to dissolve oil and prevent pore clogging, plus exfoliating glycolic acid. It’s a pairing that effectively wards off and treats blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, glycolic acid | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Benefits: Exfoliates | Size: 6.8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Acne-Prone Skin, Runner-Up: Perricone MD Acne Relief Gentle Exfoliating Toner

Perricone MD Acne Relief Gentle Exfoliating Toner

Ulta

What We Like
  • Matte finish

  • Non-irritating

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

This pick works to help clarify and clear your complexion in a variety of different ways. Along with the more well-known salicylic and lactic acid (the former for helping to unclog pores, the latter for helping to exfoliate), this also contains succinic acid, a buzzy new ingredient that may have antibacterial benefits as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, lactic acid, succinic acid | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Benefits: Exfoliates and unclogs pores | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Hyperpigmentation: Bolden Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner

Bolden USA Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner

 Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Includes fragrance

No matter whether your dark marks are from sun damage or leftover acne scarring, this powerhouse pairing of glycolic acid and a ton of antioxidants can help even out your skin tone. There’s also licorice root extract in the mix, a well-known hyperpigmentation fighter, along with niacinamide, a minimizer of irritation.

Active Ingredients: Witch hazel, niacinamide, licorice root extract | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Benefits: Moisturizes and fades hyperpigmentation | Size: 7.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Classic: Biologique Recherche Lotion P50V

Biologique Recherche Lotion P50V
What We Like
  • Phenol-free

  • Quick results

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

Byrdie Editorial Director Hallie Gould (and about a bajillion other people) rave about this fan-favorite. Make no mistake, it’s not like a traditional lotion, though it technically really isn’t considered a toner either. Still, it functions in the same manner and is often used as one, given that it boosts radiance, hydrates, and balances pH. Keep in mind that the distinct scent is, well, distinct—there’s onion in the formula—but devoted fans quickly move past it once they see firsthand how well it works.

Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, niacinamide | Skin Type: Balanced, oily | Benefits: Exfoliates and hydrates | Size: 1.7 ounces, 5.1 ounces, 8.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Oily Skin: Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner

Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Matte finish

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

The right toner can go a long way in helping to control excess sheen and shine for those with oily skin types, and this one fits the bill. It combines oil-dissolving salicylic acid—along with exfoliating glycolic and lactic acids—to purify and unclog pores, along with the brand’s proprietary blend of botanicals that helps absorb excess oil. Plus, there’s also astringent witch hazel in the mix that further helps mattify skin.

Active Ingredients: Witch hazel, AHAs/BHA | Skin Type: Oily | Benefits: Absorbs excess oil, clears pores | Size: 6.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dry Skin: Glowoasis Probiotics + Murumuru Ultra Calming Toner

Glowoasis Probiotics + Murumuru Ultra Calming Toner

Glowasis

What We Like
  • Paraben- and phthalate-free

  • Non-irritating

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

We know what you’re thinking: A toner for dry skin? Yep. It can actually be a great way to add in an extra layer of moisture before you reach for your serum and moisturizer, particularly if it’s this formula. The star of the show is murumuru butter, which helps both calm irritation and hydrate. There’s also a vitamin B complex to help replenish moisture.

Active Ingredients: Murumuru butter, vitamin B complex | Skin Type: Dry, irritated | Benefits: Moisturizes and calms skin | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Combination Skin: Pixi Glow Tonic

4.5
pixi glow tonic

Courtesy of Dermstore

What We Like
  • Generous size

  • Alcohol-free

What We Don’t Like
  • May strip skin if overused

There’s a good reason why this formula boasts somewhat of a cult-like following. It’s known for its exfoliating/brightening benefits; credit a five-percent concentration of glycolic acid. But we think it’s a choice pick for those with combination skin (or anyone who has some areas that are slick and some that are dry) because it also touts astringent witch hazel to absorb excess oil along with hydrating aloe vera. And it’s alcohol-free, so you never have to worry about it being drying or stripping. In short, this is one option pretty much anyone can use. 

Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, aloe vera | Skin Type: Combination, all | Benefits: Boosts radiance, exfoliates, absorbs excess oil, hydrates | Size: 4.2 ounces, 8.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Exfoliating: Good Faith Exfoliating Toner + AHAs

Good Faith Exfoliating Toner + AHAs

Good Faith

What We Like
  • Multi-action formula

  • Safe to use during pregnancy

  • Alcohol- and fragrance-free

What We Don’t Like
  • May cause irritation

A combo of lactic and other fruit acids do the exfoliating heavy-lifting in this formula, dissolving dead skin cells that can leave your complexion looking dull, uneven, and generally lackluster. It also boasts niacinamide (vitamin B3), an ingredient that isn’t found in a ton of other toners; it has hydrating abilities and can help boost radiance and even skin tone. There’s soothing chamomile in there, too, and it is alcohol- and fragrance-free. That being said, if your skin is super sensitive, it’s not a bad idea to just use it on areas where you’re prone to clogged pores—think around your T-zone.

Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, fruit acids, niacinamide | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, oily, combination | Benefits: Exfoliates, hydrates, boosts radiance, soothes | Size: 6.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Anti-Aging: Flora & Noor Rose Renewal Toner

Flora & Noor Rose Renewal Toner

Flora & Noor

What We Like
  • Minimal ingredient list

  • Affordable

What We Don’t Like
  • No ideal for super oily skin

The ingredient list of this toner is super minimal (which we appreciate since there are fewer potential irritants and it’s squeaky clean, too), but everything in the formula packs a punch. Namely, we’re referring to antioxidant-rich rose water, hydrating and anti-inflammatory aloe vera, and most noteworthy for anti-aging purposes, hibiscus extract. Also a powerful antioxidant, it has the added benefit of being able to help support the production of collagen, an essential protein for healthy, youthful skin.

Active Ingredients: Rosewater, aloe vera, hibiscus extract | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination | Benefits: Hydrates, offers antioxidant protection | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

If you haven’t yet hopped on the toner train, you really should; there’s an option out there to suit every skin type and need. The Laneige Essential Power Skin Toner is a universal fool-proof option, a multi-tasker that works for pretty much everyone. (The Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner (view at Amazon) is an equally great failsafe, available at the drugstore.) Oily skin types can definitely benefit from using a toner, specifically the Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner (view at Sephora), which is great at absorbing excess oil and also gently exfoliates. On the flip side, if your skin is dry or sensitive, make sure you choose a hydrating or calming formula; the Renee Rouleau Moisture Infusion Toner (view at Renee Rouleau) and Glowoasis Probiotics + Murumuru Ultra Calming Toner (view at Glowoasis) both fit the bill.

laneige essential power skin toner
Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

What to Look for in a Toner

According to Chen, you’ll want to seek out ingredients based on your particular skin type and complexion concerns. Below are a few of the best:

Salicylic Acid

This beta-hydroxy acid, which helps dissolve oil, is ideal if you have oily or acne-prone skin, says Chen.

Lactic Acid

Dealing with discoloration? Chen recommends using a toner that contains this alpha-hydroxy acid, a gentle chemical exfoliant that can improve both the tone and texture of your skin.

Niacinamide

You can still use a toner if you have dry and/or sensitive skin; the key is to make sure the formula contains hydrating and soothing ingredients. Chen says that niacinamide checks both of those boxes, hydrating and calming the skin.

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert 

FAQ
  • What does toner do for your skin?

    "Toners act as another level of cleansing, deep cleaning pores and effectively removing dirt, oil, makeup, and other pollutants," says Chen. Many contain exfoliating acids, which also help to smooth the skin.

  • How do you apply toner?

    “Toner should be applied after cleansing the face but before applying moisturizers or serums,” explains Chen. Pat your face dry, then soak a cotton ball or pad with the toner and lightly apply to both your face and neck, she says.

When applying a toner, try pressing it gently into the skin with your fingertips, rather than using a cotton pad, which soaks up more of the liquid than it actually delivers.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. A skincare enthusiast, she recently got back on the toner bandwagon after being put off after her early experience during her teen years. Her preference? Hydrating formulas for her face and acne-fighting formulas for her back and chest.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough toners from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the SkinMolecules. 2018;23(4):863. doi:10.3390/molecules23040863

  2. Thring TS, Hili P, Naughton DP. Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cellsJ Inflamm (Lond). 2011;8(1):27. doi:10.1186/1476-9255-8-27

  3. Li J, Lu YR, Lin IF, Kang W, Chen HB, Lu HF, Wang HD. Reversing UVB-induced photoaging with Hibiscus sabdariffa calyx aqueous extract. J Sci Food Agric. 2020 Jan 30;100(2):672-681. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.10063. PMID: 31583701.

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