A skin toner is a liquid or light lotion that is used in several different applications of skin care. Of these, the most common is to use a toner, usually with witch hazel or alcohol, to clean the skin and perhaps reduce oil and prevent acne breakouts. These are often called astringents.
Another type of toner used is called a tonic. This type typically contains a smaller amount of alcohol than do astringents, but it may still have that somewhat prickly or stingy feel that users often note when they place alcohol on the face. They also often feel cooler than plain water. Tonics do help clean the skin, and women or men who have combination type skin, with dry skin on the cheeks and more oily skin on the forehead and nose (called the T-zone), may prefer a tonic to an astringent.
Some skin toners contain little to no alcohol. Instead, they might use citric acid, rosewater, or a variety of other ingredients to simply freshen the skin. This explains the names used for this type: fresheners or bracers. Using a small amount of acid can help give a freshening feel to the skin.
Often, people buy a skin toner as part of a cosmetics line. Many companies sell lines of cleaning and treatment products for the skin; combinations of a specially formulated soap, a toner, and a light moisturizer are very popular. Of course, shoppers don’t have to buy every product in a skin cleaning line, and some people prefer to use regular soap and a toner, or just a toner and water to cleanse the skin.
Women and men may use products that are available in local drug stores and even many grocery stores. In fact, aftershave, with its high alcohol content is a toner of sorts. Some common brands come in simple bottles and are not feminized, which means that teens of either gender are likely to use them, though they’re still used more often by women.
The common method for applying skin toner is to dab some on a cotton ball and apply it to the face. A few toners come in spray bottles, and users just spritz the face with them. In most cases, the user doesn’t have to wash off the toner, as it’s meant to be a finishing step in a skin-cleaning regimen. People should be careful when applying toner, especially any types that contain alcohol, and avoid getting it too close to the eyes. Individuals who have areas of the skin that are badly broken out may want to dab those areas last, so they don’t transfer bacteria from one part of the skin to the other, which may result in more breakouts.