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When it comes to remedying dry and dehydrated skin, you might not think of toner—but it's time you should. The uses for toner are varied and help to target skin concerns that go beyond acne and oiliness. In fact, adding that one extra step to your skincare routine can make a real and visible difference in the moisture levels of the skin. That is—if you're using the right formula.
A new crop of toners on the market promise all kinds of different skincare benefits, including, you guessed it, hydration. The key is to seek out formulas that are first and foremost alcohol-free since alcohol can be extremely drying (especially for skin that already tends towards dryness). Next, look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, rosewater, or aloe—they'll work to add moisture back in while balancing skin tone.
Scroll to discover the best toners for dry skin.
Not only is this crowd-favorite alcohol-free, but it also uses a 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% for six hours after application.
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, but 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.
Made with 99% natural ingredients, this toner relies on aloe juice for a deep hit of instant hydration. The formula works in a multitude of different ways—use it post-moisturizer and pre-makeup for an extra boost of moisture, on top of makeup to help set your look, or as a quick pick-me-up anytime your skin feels a little dry or lackluster throughout the day. Bonus points for the spray-on format that requires no cotton pads.
This SK-II toner contains AHAs to gently exfoliate dead and dry skin away from the surface of the skin, while vitamins, minerals, and amino acids nourish what's underneath. It's on the expensive side, but the benefits make it well worth it.
This tried-and-true product gently exfoliates so serums and moisturizers can penetrate deeper and work more effectively. What's more is that it's pH-balanced, which results in comfortable, hydrated skin. Fans refer to it as a "holy-grail toner"— which makes sense considering it's one of the brand's most popular products.
We get it, a toner isn’t necessarily the first product you think of for sensitive skin. This particular formula, however, definitely deserves a spot in your routine. A favorite of Byrdie Senior Editor Lindsey Metrus, it’s free of alcohol and other potential irritants (most importantly), but it’s also chock-full of soothing vitamins and fatty acids that work to both hydrate and tamp down redness (it’s even a good option for rosacea-sufferers).
Try using it along with a retinoid to help tamp down unsightly side effects like dryness and peeling.
For those who want their toner to do more than just hydrate, this pick is choice. As the name suggests, it touts glycolic acid to dissolve away dead cells and leave skin looking generally brighter and more radiant. And while yes, glycolic acid is great for oily skin types, it’s also a unique ingredient that actually doubles as a humectant, attracting moisture to the skin. There’s also soothing and skin barrier-strengthening niacinamide in this formula, too.
The star of the show here are oats, an ingredient that's well-known for its incredible soothing effects. Namely, there are wild oats, hydrating oat milk, and colloidal oats (an ingredient that's even used to address eczema)—all of which help to calm stressed or irritated skin. Plus, honey and hyaluronic acid in the formula impart plenty of hydration, too.
Alcohol-, paraben-, and silicone-free, this clean option boasts a minimal ingredient list packed with well-known hydrating ingredients like aloe vera and hyaluronic acid. But perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that it also contains powerful antioxidants (including the powerhouse extract, CoQ-10) to give your skin an extra layer of protection from damaging free radicals every time you use it. Now, that's always a good thing in our book.
Toning lotions straddle the line between, well, toners and lotions, creamier than traditional toners but still with their same lightweight consistency. Not surprisingly, they’re a great option for dry skin, and this is one of our faves. It goes on almost like a gel (and can be applied either with your fingertips or a cotton pad) but quickly transforms into a water-like texture that instantly soaks into your complexion. At work is the brand’s magnetic water complex that attracts, captures, and retains hydration. The subtle, fresh scent is just an added bonus.
Part refreshing mist, part hydrating toner, this is the perfect choice when you need a quick hit of hydration anytime, anywhere. Honeysuckle both hydrates and helps keep pores clear (always a good thing), while rose soothes any irritation (and imparts a lovely scent). Try spritzing it directly onto your face if you just need a little bit of moisture, or spray it onto cotton pads and press it into the skin if you need more.
If your skin is super parched, this pick can’t be beaten. A coconut water and algae base make it even more hydrating than most toners. As an added benefit, it works not only as a toner but also as a makeup remover and cleanser, too. (For maximum moisture, we like using it to remove makeup, and then we apply it again after washing with a creamy cleanser). Either way, it leaves your complexion beautifully soft and plumped.
Contrary to popular belief, toners can be an invaluable addition to your skincare routine even if you have dry skin; the key is to seek out alcohol-free formulas loaded with hydrating ingredients. You can’t go wrong with the Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner, a fan-favorite that leaves your complexion smooth, soft, and silky. There are also plenty of affordable picks to be found at the drugstore, like the Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner with Rosewater, a more hydrating take on a classic, and the easy-to-use, multi-tasking Garnier SkinActive Hydrating Facial Mist with Aloe Juice. You can even use a toner if you have sensitive or irritated skin—just choose ones that contain soothing-ingredients like the Reneé Rouleau Moisture Infusion Toner or the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner.