Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
If your complexion falls on the dry side, you likely have plenty of moisturizers, hydrating masks, and skin-quenching serums on-hand at all times. But while it may not be the first product you think of, toner can go a long way towards treating parched skin, too. Sure, traditionally toners have been thought of—and used for—their astringent (AKA oil-absorbing) properties. But with the product category growing and expanding rapidly in recent years, there are now a whole slew of new toners out there promising all kinds of different skincare benefits, including, you guessed it, hydration.
Not only do you reap the cleansing effects (toners are ideal to use post face-washing to help remove all the tiny particles of gunk and grim that your standard cleanser alone simply can’t get to), but they also give you an added boost of moisture. And when it comes to treating dry skin, the ultimate goal and best way to alleviate the issue is to add hydration back in every step of your skincare routine. The more the better, so why not add a toner to the mix? Because there are so many toners out there, the key is to seek out formulas that are first and foremost alcohol-free, since alcohol can be extremely drying, especially for dry skin. Next, look for the added hydrating ingredients, things such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, as well as rosewater and aloe are all great choices that are commonly used. These top standouts fit the bill.
Best Overall: Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Toner
Not only is this crowd-favorite alcohol-free, it also uses gentle rose fruit extract for toning purposes, rather than some of the more astringent ingredients found in other formulas. On the hydrating side of things, rosewater and rose flower oil (there are even real rose petals in the bottle!) soothe and nourish, while hyaluronic acid also does some heavy hydration lifting. So much so that, according to the results of a clinical study, it increased hydration by an impressive 46 percent for six hours after applications.
Best Budget: Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner With Rosewater
From one of the OG toner brands, comes this new hydrating option, infused with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. Not only is it alcohol-free, it also doesn’t contain any sulfates, soaps, or dyes (all things which can also potentially exacerbate dryness). Plus, the exclusive natural witch hazel plants Dickinson uses in all of their products are distilled for purity, and not diluted like some of the other witch hazel out there, to help ensure maximum potency and efficacy.
Best Drugstore Option: Thayers Witch Hazel Alcohol Free Unscented Toner
When a brand has been around since 1847, you can feel pretty darn confident that they’re doing something right. Case in point: This version of their original witch hazel toner, which is alcohol-free, and contains soothing vitamin E, aloe vera, along and grapefruit seed extract to make it extra gentle on dry skin. Still, it delivers all the toning benefits of a traditional witch hazel formula.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Avene Gentle Toning Lotion
Dry, extra-dry, and sensitive skin types alike will all appreciate this formula. Dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic, the water-based toner/lotion hybrid is unique thanks to the addition of thermal spring water and natural silicates.
Both are packed with antioxidants to help protect your skin from environmental damage (always a good thing), and also have soothing anti-inflammatory properties to help quell redness, a major win for sensitive skin.
Best Toning Lotion: Shiseido Treatment Softener Enriched
Technically, this is considered more of a lotion than a toner—but no, not the kind of lotion you’re thinking of. These lotions started in Asia; also known as essences, think of them as a slightly more viscous toner, which can essentially be used interchangeably and in the same way. Lotions are an especially great pick for sensitive skin, since they can pack in even more hydrating ingredients.
This particular formula, a new take on the original made for normal skin, is a softening formula that helps strengthen your skin’s defenses from the inside so that it can better hold on to moisture and protect skin from aging and external aggressors.
Best Natural Formula: 100 Percent Pure Restorative Sea Culture Toner
The first ingredient on this list is organic chia seed water, which helps hydrate and heal skin. Alongside that are, true to the name, several sea-based ingredients, namely organic algae extract (sourced from unpolluted waters) that locks in moisture. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid round out the list of hydrating ingredients, though it does contain witch hazel, too.
Best Exfoliating: PCA Skin Nutrient Toner
Regular exfoliation is a great idea for dry skin; after all, getting rid of the build-up of dead, dry skin not only makes skin look better, but will also help any products you’re using better penetrate and hydrate, toners included. The caveat: This exfoliation has to be super gentle. Overdo it and you can risk drying out your skin even more…and no one wants that. Enter this formula, which gently dissolves dead skin cells with alpha hydroxy acids, such as lactic acid, one of the most mild ones out there. Enzymes and amino acids do the same, all while also helping to refine pores and balance out your skin.
Our writers spent 6 hours researching the most popular toners for dry skin on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different toners overall, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 6 of the toners themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.