These Are the 15 Best Toners Based on Your Skin Type and Concerns

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Best Toners

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 litany of skin benefits. (To answer your burning Q, no, toners are no longer just good for oily skin.) 

Straddling the line between the cleansing and treatment 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, 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.

Our Top Picks
This do-it-all is a top choice to simultaneously address all skin issues.
Pick this affordable toner up if you're looking for a classic formula that will keep skin nice and soft.
This toner contains glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells and leave your complexion radiant.
This one helps to keep pores clear, while also boasting plenty of soothing ingredients to tamp down any redness.
This vitamin-infused toner quells redness and calms skin with each swipe.
The star of the show here is matcha, which helps to detoxify and purify pores.
This one-stop-shop works as a cleansing milk, makeup remover, and hydrating toner.
Witch hazel in this formula helps to brighten and smooth skin texture, and help with breakouts.
This toner boasts a minimal-yet-effective amount of salicylic acid to dissolve oil and prevent pore clogging.
Hydroxy acids in this formula are used for exfoliating, skin smoothing, moisturizing, and anti-aging.

Best Overall: Laneige Essential Power Skin Toner

Laneige Essential Power Skin Toner
What We Like
  • Reduces flakiness

  • Hydrating

  • High-quality ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Has fragrance

While you can definitely 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 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 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Testers Say

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

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

  • Hydrating

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 (which has been around since 1866, NBD). 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 Ingredient: Witch hazel | Skin Type: All | Benefits: Cleanses and hydrates | Size: 16 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Budget: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

The Ordinary
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Offers mild exfoliation

  • High-quality ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Very potent; could damage skin if overused

At less than the cost of lunch, this exfoliating toner would be a steal, to begin with, but because you’re also getting a jumbo, 8 oz. 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 though, so 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 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

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

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

  • Helps control oil

  • Reduces flakiness

  • Recyclable bottle

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 to keep pores clear, while also boasting plenty of soothing ingredients to tamp down any redness in the process. “I like this toner because of its ability to clear out excess sebum and dirt from the pore, but is also gentle enough for those who have sensitive skin,” says Dr. Lucy Chen, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology. A bonus? “The addition of niacinamide can help minimize hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and protect against free radicals,” she says.

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

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
What We Like
  • Reduces redness and irritation

  • Can use as primer or setting spray

  • Great for retinol users

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 Senior 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 fl. oz | 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, Associate Editorial Director

Best for Oily Skin: Milk Makeup Matcha Toner

Milk Makeup Matcha Toner
What We Like
  • Vegan

  • Hydrating

  • Helps control oil

  • TSA-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Some reviewers note it feels heavy

The star of the show here is matcha, which helps to detoxify and purify pores, always a major boon for those with oily skin. Kombucha and witch hazel further absorb unwanted, excess oil, and we’d be remiss not to mention the fact that this is a unique solid formula. That’s right, it’s a gel-based toner-in-a-stick, ideal not only for travel, but also to keep on-hand and swipe across any slick spots that crop up throughout the day.

Active Ingredients: Green tea, witch hazel | Skin Type: Oily | Benefits: Cleanses pores | Size: 0.2 / 1 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Skin: Versed Baby Cheeks Hydrating Milk Toner

Versed Baby Cheeks All in One Hydrating Milk
What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • Hydrating

  • Recyclable bottle

What We Don't Like
  • Pump is not recyclable

The name alone immediately gives you an indication as to how moisturizing this is. Cleansing milk, makeup remover, and hydrating toner all in one, it boasts coconut water to impart plenty of moisture. You could definitely use it instead of face wash, but we like using it before and/or after to make sure the skin stays well-hydrated during the cleansing process.

Active Ingredients: Coconut water, algae extract | Skin Type: All | Benefits: Hydrates and removes makeup | Size: 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Combination Skin: Isla Beauty Tone Balance Elixir

Isla
What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Improves skin's firmness

  • High-quality ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Byrdie’s Editorial Director Faith Xue is a fan of this toner: “It has witch hazel to brighten and smooth skin texture, and helps with my breakouts,” she says. It’s a great pick if your skin jumps around between dry and oily, given that it both hydrates and controls oil production. Bonus points for the fact that 100% of the ingredients are from natural origin.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, aloe leaf juice | Skin Type: Combination | Benefits: Hydrates and firms | Size: 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

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

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Toner
What We Like
  • Includes salicylic acid

  • Helps control oil

What We Don't Like
  • May irritate sensitive skin

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 Ingredient: Salicylic acid | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Benefits: Exfoliates | Size: 6.8 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Exfoliating: Then I Met You Birch Milk Refining Toner

Then I Met You Birch Milk Refining Toner
What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Includes AHAs and PHAs

  • Gentle formula

What We Don't Like
  • May cause purging

This formula, another one of Xue’s faves, boasts AHAs and the less-often used (though equally great) PHAs, polyhydroxy acids. It’s great for both brightening, minimizing the look of pores, and gently buffing off dull, dead skin. Plus, along with those exfoliating acids, it also contains soothing marshmallow root extract and squalane to combat irritation.

Active Ingredients: Birch juice, squalane, glycolic and lactic acids | Skin Type: Dry | Benefits: Hydrates | Size: 3.4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Hyperpigmentation: Bolden Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner

Bolden USA Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner
What We Like
  • Improves elasticity

  • Helps control oil

  • Reduces dark spots

What We Don't Like
  • Has 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 to soothe any irritation.

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

Best Anti-Aging: Environ Youth Essentia-A Peptide Toner

Environ Youth Essentia-A Peptide Toner
What We Like
  • Improves elasticity and firmness

  • High-quality ingredients

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

For those looking to keep skin youthful, sure, serums and night creams are important, but why not choose a toner with youth-boosting benefits, too? This one fits the bill, full of a combination of peptides known for increasing skin’s elasticity and firmness, as well as antioxidants and exfoliating ingredients to keep your complexion youthful and glowing.

Active Ingredients: Peptides, niacinamide | Skin Type: Dry, aging | Benefits: Cleanses and firms | Size: 6.8 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best K-Beauty: Acwell Licorice Toner

Acewell Licorice Toner
What We Like
  • Reduces redness and pigmentation

  • Balances pH

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Leaves a sticky residue

The K-beauty skincare routine is well-known for having 10 extensive steps, and you better believe toner is one of them. Take a page from that book and try this K-beauty superstar, which has sold out and had a lengthy waitlist time and time again. It’s worth the hype, with brightening, soothing, and moisturizing properties thanks to ingredients such as peony extract, licorice water, and green tea. Also noteworthy is its slightly acidic pH, which helps ward off bacteria and help rebalance skin post-cleansing.

Active Ingredients: Licorice water, peony flower extract | Skin Type: All | Benefits: Cleanses and adds luminosity | Size: 5 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Classic: Biologique Recherche Lotion P50

Biologique Recherche P50
What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Balances pH

  • Gently exfoliates

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

Byrdie Senior Editor Hallie Gould (and about a bajillion other people) rave about this cult-favorite. Make no mistake, it’s definitely 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 brightens, 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 / 5.1 / 8.4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best 2-in-1: Temple Zen Facial Cleanser + Toner

Temple Zen Facial Cleanser + Toner
What We Like
  • Alcohol-free

  • Helps control oil

  • Can relieve sinus congestion

What We Don't Like
  • May irritate sensitive skin

This product doesn't just tone your skin—it acts as a cleanser too. Its refreshing formula—featuring witch hazel, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oil—works double-time to cleanse impurities, remove any traces of makeup or grime, and balance oil production (making it especially great for those with oily skin). An added perk is that menthol vapors from the eucalyptus oil help clear your sinuses.

Active Ingredients: Witch hazel, eucalyptus, rosemary | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Benefits: Reduces excess oil and prevents acne | 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 is an equally great failsafe, available at the drugstore.)  Oily skin types can definitely benefit from using a toner, specifically the Milk Makeup Matcha Toner, which is great at absorbing excess oil. 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 and Versed Baby Cheeks Hydrating Milk Toner 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, 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 skin with your fingertips, rather than using a cotton pad, which soaks up more of the liquid than it actually delivers.

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.

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 junkie, she recently got back on the toner bandwagon, after being put off after her early experience during her teen years. Her preference? Hydrating formulas, like the Versed product in this story for her face, and acne-fighting formulas, like the La Roche-Posay, 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 a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business 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.

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