If Your Skin Falls Somewhere Between Dry and Oily, Reach for These Toners

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As anyone who has combination skin will tell you, finding the right products can pose a tricky conundrum. Generally speaking, combination skin may be defined as having certain spots that are oily (for example, the T-zone, stretching across your forehead and down your nose and chin), and others that are dry (typically the cheeks). So while those whose skin falls squarely and entirely on either the dry or oily side can stick to certain formulas or categories of products, those with combination skin constantly have to straddle a fine line, looking for options that can tamp down oiliness without exacerbating dryness. That’s no easy feat.

Here’s where toners made for combination skin play a huge role. These formulas tout all the benefits of traditional toners, namely the oil-absorbing properties, but balance that out with the addition of hydrating ingredients, too. It’s basically the best of both worlds and can be a great option for anyone dealing with combination skin.

What to Look For in a Toner for Combination Skin

Balancing Formula

Opt for a formula that's made for combination skin to achieve the best results. Keywords like 'balancing', 'purifying', and 'clarifying' are often good options.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), like glycolic or lactic acid, are often good additions to toners for combination skin. Gentle AHAs are well-trusted by dermatologists when it comes to exfoliation and helping to control excess oil.

Hydrating Ingredients

In addition to balancing out your oily areas, you'll also want a formula that's hydrating to keep dry areas in check. With combination skin, you may have to do double duty to prevent excess shine while healing dry patches.

Keep reading for our top toner picks that work perfectly for combination skin.

Best Overall: Origins United State Balancing Tonic

origins united state balancing tonic

This formula does the hard work for you, de-shining the spots that need it, while simultaneously adding hydration to the places that need moisture. Laminaria (an ingredient derived from kelp) does the oil-fighting, while soy protein adds moisture. Not to mention that it’s also pH balanced, and, thanks to the addition of energizing bergamot and refreshing spearmint, feels cool and tingly going on, the perfect morning pick-me-up.

Best Budget: No7 Radiant Results Purifying Toning Water

no7 purifying toning water

Specially formulated to maintain your skin’s balance, this helps to tone skin but also contains the brand’s Tri-Vit complex, a trio of vitamins C, E, and B5, along with red ginseng that's intended to leave your skin soft, too.

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Murad Clarifying Toner


Key Ingredients

Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also helps soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.

Yep, combination skin can often be acne-prone, particularly in those oily spots like on your T-zone. If that sounds like you, reach for this option. It contains witch hazel and algae extract to potentially absorb excess oil, tighten pores, and balance sebum production. Still, it isn’t overly stripping or harsh on the skin, thanks to the addition of grape seed extract and vitamin E, which also have the added benefit of delivering antioxidant protection.

Best Exfoliating: Ren Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

ren ready steady glow aha tonic

Key Ingredients

Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that works to exfoliate the skin. It is known to even out tone and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

In this case, tonic is just another word for toner, namely a toner that delivers top exfoliating benefits for combination skin. It claims to help your skin better exfoliate itself to balance out the skins ph and trigger the skin’s natural exfoliation process. By using lactic acid and willow bark extract, it may also smooth skin, even out tone, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, it has azelaic acid to brighten your complexion, too. Time to get your glow on. 

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

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

The bad news: You can’t change the actual size of your pores. The good news: You may be able to make them appear smaller and less prominent by keeping them from getting clogged with gunk and grime. For this, this formula is tops. It both balances oily skin and delivers lightweight hydration, all while minimizing the look of pores. Credit antioxidants, soothing plant extracts, and niacinamide for this triple threat of benefits

What Our Testers Say

"I can't imagine my nightly skin routine without this toner, and my pores have never looked and felt better." — Bianca Lambert, Product Tester

Best Natural: Weleda One-Step Cleanser & Toner

weleda one step cleanser and toner

A universally good, foolproof option, this toner is simple and straightforward. It has the hydration of a milky lotion, but the toning properties of a classic toner. It's addition of witch hazel and iris root claim to help gently cleanse and tone, without over-drying your skin. Not to mention that’s it’s also cruelty-free and free of synthetic preservatives, fragrances, parabens, and phthalates, too. Give it a good shake before use for the best results. 

  • Are toners good for combination skin?

    Toners may help infuse dry areas with moisture and balance out oily zones, so they can be beneficial for combination skin.

  • How do you pick a toner for combination skin?

    When searching for a toner for combination skin, opt to look for one that's meant to balance out the skin. Many balancing toners are specifically formulated to potentially absorb excess oil while adding moisture, which should help combination skin.

  • What does toner do for your skin?

    Traditionally, toner was intended to remove any dirt, grime, or impurities that were left on your skin after cleansing. Today, however, "while the newer generation of toners may still remove traces of debris, they're really meant to nourish and replenish the skin after cleansing and act as a primer for the rest of your skincare products," dermatologist Sejal Shah told us. They may be specifically formulated to tackle different skin conditions, like acne or brightening, too.

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. Jesumani V, Du H, Aslam M, Pei P, Huang N. Potential use of seaweed bioactive compounds in skincare—a review. Mar Drugs. 2019;17(12):688.

  3. Ahn S, Chantre CO, Gannon AR, et al. Soy Protein/Cellulose Nanofiber Scaffolds Mimicking Skin Extracellular Matrix for Enhanced Wound HealingAdv Healthc Mater. 2018;7(9):e1701175. doi:10.1002/adhm.201701175

  4. Keen MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal. 2016;7(4):311.

  5. Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 1996;35(3):388-391.

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