The Best Toners of 2022 Based on Your Skin Type and Concerns

Our best overall pick is Pixi Glow Tonic

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The 15 Best Toners in 2022

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

Today's toner formulas are more advanced than ever, boasting a ton of skin benefits, and delivering active ingredients straight to your face. A good toner is either acid-based, to exfoliate and resurface, or hydrating, to lock in moisture, according to board-certified dermatologist, Lucy Chen, MD.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Our top pick is Pixi Glow Tonic, an alcohol-free formula that contains a high concentration of glycolic acid plus aloe vera to soothe and hydrate. For a more affordable pick, consider The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7 Percent Toning Solution also formulated with glycolic acid for a powerful exfoliation, and rose water to tamp the sting.

After cleansing, apply toner 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 target concerns and treat accordingly. Seek acids that will gently exfoliate to reduce hyperpigmentation or get relief from redness and irritation with vitamin B3 and other hydrating ingredients.

We tried a handful of top-rated toners spanning a range of budgets, skin types, and concerns. After using them for weeks at a time, our testers rated each formula's skin-feel, and how well it worked to brighten complexion, even out skin tone, fade dark spots, address signs of aging, and hydrate skin. We then combined these results with the recommendations of board-certified dermatologist, Lucy Chen, MD. as well as our own research to compile a list of the best in show.

Ahead, find the best toners with active ingredients.

Best Overall: Pixi Glow Tonic

4.5
pixi glow tonic

Courtesy of Dermstore

What We Like
  • Generous size

  • High concentration of glycolic acid

  • Aloe vera soothes and hydrates

  • Alcohol-free

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

This product has a cult following for its exfoliating and 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. It’s alcohol-free, so you never have to worry about it being drying or stripping.  

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

What Our Testers Say

"It feels refreshing and soothing on contact, which is a nice surprise considering the glycolic acid in play." — Adam Hurly, Product Tester.

Best Budget: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

4.5
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Ulta

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Generous size

  • Exfoliating formula

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

This affordably-priced toner contains glycolic acid, one of the best exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids there is, to remove dead skin cells and leave your complexion radiant. Rose water helps tamp some of the sting, but the formula 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 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

This updated formula is milder and less irritating than the original. 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. An infusion of hyaluronic acid and vitamin E soften skin.

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

You can make pores appear 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. A gently acidic formula contains soothing ingredients to tamp down any redness in the process. "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 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

Whether your dark marks are from sun damage or acne scarring, this powerhouse pairing of glycolic acid and antioxidant-blend can help even out your skin tone. There’s also licorice root extract to help fade hyperpigmentation, and niacinamide, to minimize 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 is willing to put up with this formula's strong scent of onion, a known anti-inflammatory; she says it delivers radiant results. The hybrid lotion-toner formula hydrates and balances pH and includes lactic acid, niacinamide to exfoliate as you hydrate.

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
  • Some reviewers not it can lead to over-drying

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. The astringent witch hazel 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

A toner for dry skin can help add an extra layer of moisture before you reach for your serum and moisturizer, notes Chen. This toner's most powerful ingredient is murumuru butter, which helps both calm irritation and hydrate. The addition of a vitamin B complex helps replenish skin's 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 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

  • Contains anti-inflammatories

  • 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

Best for Sensitive Skin: Renee Rouleau Moisture Infusion Toner

Renee Rouleau Moisture Infusion Toner

Renee Rouleau

What We Like
  • Omega-rich formula leaves creates a cushiony complexion

  • Ideal for retinol users who are experiencing flakiness

What We Don't Like
  • Fragrance

An alcohol-free, serum-infused skin toner, this pick is ideal for those looking to create a dewy complexion. Alternatively, it's ideal for retinol users who are experiencing flakiness. It's formulated with natural botanicals to soothe irritation. The addition of black raspberry seed oil and blackberry seed oil make the formula rich in omegas 3, 6 and 9, giving it a luxe skin-feel so that skin can better absorb moisture treatments. Reviewers note skin appears cushiony and radiant after use.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, vitamin C, phospholipids   | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination | Benefits: Hydrates, offers antioxidant protection, boosts radiance | Size: 6 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

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 Brightening : Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum

Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum

Sephora

What We Like
  • Hydrating ingredients

  • Targets dark spots

  • Adds visible glow

What We Don't Like
  • Some reviewers note irritation

  • Thicker texture makes product slow to absorb

This toner-serum hybrid has a bit more body to it than typical toners, and some reviewers note it feels like a thin gel. Niacinamide and vitamin C target dark spots and help fade pigmentation, while the alcohol-free formula contains Australian lemon myrtle and witch hazel to help reduce oil and refine pores.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, vitamin C   | Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination, and oily | Benefits: Targets pores, improves the look of dark spots, visibly brightens, | Size: 5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Editors Say

"I was afraid the witch hazel was going to cause some dryness to my skin, but I was pleasantly surprised."—Olivia Hancock, Editor 

Final Verdict

Our top pick is Pixi Glow Tonic, an alcohol-free formula that contains a high concentration of glycolic acid plus aloe vera to soothe and hydrate. For a more affordable pick, consider The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7 Percent Toning Solution also formulated with glycolic acid for a powerful exfoliation, and rose water to tamp the sting.

Pixi Glow Tonic
pixibeauty/Instagram

Meet the Expert

Lucy Chen , MD 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.

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. She considered dozens of toners for this roundup, evaluating each formula's skin-feel, and how well it worked to brighten complexion, even out skin tone, fade dark spots, address signs of aging, and hydrate skin. We then combined these results with the recommendations of board-certified dermatologist, Lucy Chen, MD. as well as our own testing insight to compile this list.

Updated by Jill Di Donato
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.
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  2. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the SkinMolecules. 2018;23(4):863. doi:10.3390/molecules23040863

  3. Marefati N, Ghorani V, Shakeri F, et al. A review of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory effects of Allium cepa and its main constituents. Pharm Biol. 2021;59(1):287-302. doi:10.1080/13880209.2021.1874028

  4. 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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