January 30, 2023

Toners often get a bad rap. I blame the 2000s. If you’re anything like me, your foray into toners was a trip to Boots as a teenager and picking up a toner for the first onset of hormonal acne. Raise a hand if it left your skin feeling like it was on fire? 

Thankfully, toners have come on leaps and bounds, with more sophisticated formulas that cater to a number of skin types and concerns. But what exactly do toners do? “Toners are designed to hydrate and balance the skin, leaving the complexion toned, level and fresh,” explains facialist Rhian Truman. “Lots of modern toners are used as a mild exfoliant, rich with AHAs [alpha hydroxy acids, which exfoliate the skin] to regenerate and brighten.”

With so many options available, we’ve rounded up some of the best toners for each skin type and concern.

BEST TONER FOR ACNE

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Paula’s Choice
Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
£31

If you want to reduce blackheads and those spots that seem to overstay their welcome, you’ll love this toner. It contains salicylic acid, which melts away dead skin cells and oils that can build up in pores to remove congestion and leave skin clearer. Beauty editors and skincare lovers swear by this trusty toner for a reason.

BEST FOR COMBINATION SKIN

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
Paula’s Choice
Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
£22

Combination skin can be finicky. Your chin, nose and forehead might be oily, whereas your cheeks might be dryer or more sensitive. But don’t worry. Paula’s got you. Another hero product from the brand, this toner contains niacinamide to balance oily areas and glycerin to hydrate drier areas without causing congestion.

BEST TONER FOR DRY SKIN

Rose Deep Hydration Toner
Fresh
Rose Deep Hydration Toner
£22

Not just a pretty bottle (which has rose petals inside, how cute!), this hydrating formula contains hyaluronic acid to quench skin, while the rose oil leaves skin feeling protected.

BEST TONER FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner
The Body Shop
Aloe Calming Toner
£9

If you’re prone to sensitive skin, you might write off toners for causing stinging. However, there are still some great options for sensitive skin types, such as this offering from The Body Shop. It’s free from fragrance and alcohol, which are often responsible for that stinging sensation, and instead contains calming aloe vera to soothe irritated skin.

BEST TONER FOR DARK SPOTS

Medik8 Press and Glow Tonic
Medik8
Press and Glow Tonic
£27

If acne scarring and stubborn sun damage are your bugbears, Medik8’s Press & Glow helps to gently fade away pigmentation to leave skin looking clear and bright.

BEST TONER FOR OILY SKIN

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Lotion
La Roche-Posay
Effaclar Clarifying Lotion
£13
£10

If you find that your T-zone becomes slick throughout the day, this toner is for you. It contains salicylic acid to power through excess oil but is still gentle enough to leave your complexion feeling refreshed.

BEST TONER FOR RESURFACING

Alpha-H Liquid Gold Exfoliating Treatment
Alpha-H
Liquid Gold Exfoliating Treatment
£40

If you’ve been using an exfoliating toner for a while and are looking for something stronger, this toner from Alpha-H is for you. Described as an overnight peel, this glycolic acid formula works to even skin texture and tone as you sleep, leaving you with an unrivalled glow come morning. 

BEST BUDGET TONER

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
The Ordinary
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
£8

Having reached cult status on TikTok, this toner has developed a loyal following for its impressive results and purse-friendly price tag. At 7% glycolic acid (which exfoliates the top layers of your skin), it is quite punchy, so use this a couple of times a week at first to see how your skin adjusts.

BEST LUXURY TONER

Augustinus Bader The Essence
Augustinus Bader
The Essence
£68

You might have spotted this iconic blue bottle on the vanity tables of beauty experts. It contains a cocktail of ingredients to smooth, brighten and hydrate the skin.

BEST TONER FOR REDNESS

Ren Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic
Ren Clean Skincare
Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic
£28

This gentle formula contains azelaic acid, which has been shown to be beneficial for skin types that are prone to redness. This formula can be used daily and leaves skin glowing and comfortable.

BEST TONER FOR DULL SKIN

Pixi Glow Tonic
Pixi
Glow Tonic
£18

For when your skin is looking a bit “meh,” this exfoliating toner gives dead skin cells the boot, paving the way for those sparkly new skin cells to shine through and give your complexion its glow back.

BEST TONER FOR HYDRATION

Biossance Biossance Squalane and Hyaluronic Toning Mist
Biossance
Biossance Squalane and Hyaluronic Toning Mist
£19

Parched skin? This toning mist is great to refresh skin after cleansing and also throughout the day whenever your skin needs a boost. It contains hyaluronic acid and squalane, a hydrating duo that leaves tight skin feeling comfortable.

Up next: Here’s What a Dermatologist Really Thinks About These 6 Viral Skincare Products