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15 Best Face Toners for Every Skin Type, According to Skin Experts

Whether your concern is dry, oily or acne-prone skin, there's a top-rated toner formula for you.

14 best face toners for all skin types, according to skincare experts
courtesy of brands

Forget the skin-stripping acne astringents of your teens — toners have come a long way since those old-school dehydrating astringents designed solely for those who want to control oily skin. Today's formulas are much more advanced, packed with skin-boosting benefits — including hydrators like glycerin and exfoliators like glycolic acid — that will leave you glowing.

"There are now less-drying formulas on the market that are alcohol- and astringent-free," says Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab chemist Danusia Wnek. This new generation of milder toners (often labeled as facial essences, tonics, waters or solutions) are good for your face, no matter your skin type. "These versions contain treatment ingredients similar to serums and moisturizers, so they’re gentler,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

What is a face toner, and what does it do for your skin?

Toners are a water-based skin care liquid that's applied to dry skin after face cleansing using fingers, a cotton ball or cloth, and before using other leave-on skincare treatments like serums and moisturizers."The goal of a toner is to remove any excess residue from cleansing and prep the skin for other skincare products," Wnek says. A good toner can help make sure your skin is totally clean and gunk-free, plus give it an extra dose of active ingredients. And yes, you should use a toner every day: You can apply it once or twice per day, in the morning and/or evening.

Are toners really necessary?

Many multi-step skincare routines tout the use of a toner, but while toners may feel like a skippable step, you may want to consider using one if you're looking for additional complexion-purifying and brightening benefits, or you want to swap out heavier serums and creams for a lighter complexion-boosting liquid in warmer months.

What to look for in a toner

Toners can make many claims, such as removing oil, tightening pores, restoring the skin's pH balance and cleaning pores deeply. Sounds great, right? Before you grab any ol' toner off the shelf, you should consider your current skin care regimen and skin type, as the strengths and ingredients of these products can vary.

It may take a little trial and error to find which kind of toner you like best. The trick is to find a product that isn't too irritating to your skin type. If you use a deep-cleansing face wash, then you may want to try a mild toner. On the other hand, if you use something rich like a cold cream to remove makeup and cleanse, a stronger toner can be perfect for zapping excess oil and refreshing skin. Those with sensitive skin should only use very mild toners to avoid any unnecessary irritation.

Our advice: When shopping for a toner, look for formulations tailored to your complexion type or primary skin concern or goal. Here are Wnek's suggestions:

    The best toner is the one that's right for your skin type and concerns. We chose these toners based on recommendations from GH Beauty Lab scientists and experts of all skin types, who rigorously test hundreds of skincare product formulas each year, including toners, evaluating them on factors such as ease of use (including application and scent) and look and feel of skin after use both instantly and over time.

      Here, more on the best face toners you can buy for all skin types, including the best toners for oily skin, the best toners for sensitive skin, the best toners for combination skin and the best toners for acne-prone skin.

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      Best Overall Toner
      Glow Tonic Exfoliating Toner

      • Gently exfoliates skin while also hydrating
      • Great for all skin types
      • Alcohol-free

      Pixi's exfoliating toner has become a cult classic and a go-to for the analysts in the GH Beauty Lab. Why? This does-it-all pick works to address multiple skin concerns. “It contains oil-nixing astringents, soothing aloe, exfoliating glycolic acid and moisturizing humectants, all effective ingredients in a toner,” Wnek says. “It smells great and noticeably makes my skin glow in the morning after applying it before bed."

      Main Benefits: Exfoliating, radiance-boosting
      Key Ingredients:
      Glycolic acid, witch hazel
      4.2 oz.

      Best Value Drugstore Toner
      Brightening Lemon Juice Facial Toner
      Clean & Clear
      Clean & Clear

      • Affordable price
      • Oil- and alcohol-free
      • Brightens and softens skin

      Pick up this oil-free Clean & Clear formula if you're looking for a no-frills formula that will keep skin bright and soft. It's made without alcohol, which can over-dry skin, and with skincare ingredients like softening glycerin as well as brightening lemon extract and vitamin C. "It smells amazing and keeps my skin looking bright and clear," one Amazon reviewer said. 

      Main Benefits: Purifying, brightening
      Key Ingredients:
       Vitamin C, lemon extract
      7.5 oz.

      Best Toner for Glowing Skin
      Hydraflora Probiotic Essence

      • Contains brightening ingredients
      • Leaves skin dewy

      • Expensive

      The ingredients in HydroPeptide's toner essence sound like a refreshing smoothie, loaded with coconut water, probiotics and a laundry list of vibrancy-boosting fruit extracts, from lemon to orange and grapefruit. “I dispense some with the convenient pump, then splash it directly onto my face,” says GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D.It gives my skin an overall glistening finish and feels refreshing.”

      Main Benefits: Glow-boosting, refreshing
      Key Ingredients: Probiotics
      4 oz.

      Best Toner for Dry Skin
      Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner

      • Softens skin
      • Rose water and oil are non-drying

      • Not clarifying for acne-prone skin

      Fresh's nourishing treatment toner, made with glycerin, rose flower water and oil, proves that toners don't have to strip skin and leave it dehydrated. This all-in-one formulas works to remove impurities and soften skin. As GH's Beauty Director, my parched skin drinks this right up and it feels really quenching. Plus, I love that you can see the real rose petals floating inside — so luxurious.

      Main Benefits: Softening, soothing
      Key Ingredients: Rose extracts, hyaluronic acid
      Size: 8.4 oz.

      Best Toner for Acne
      SuperToner Exfoliating Acid Solution

      • Contains powerful acne-fighting ingredients
      • Makes pores less visible

      • May be dehydrating for dry skin

      This GlamGlow toner solution is packed with blemish-fighting actives like salicylic, glycolic and lactic acids to remove dead skin cells, plus astringent witch hazel to keep your skin smooth and breakout-free. “It’s really helpful if I’m breaking out, as it cleans out my pores, curbs blemishes and helps clarify,” says former GH beauty assistant Katie Berohn. “It's also fun to use — it’s an emulsion formula so you shake it to activate, and it looks shimmery and pretty.”

      Main Benefits: Acne-fighting, pore-clearing
      Key Ingredients: Glycolic and salicylic acids

      Best Toner for Combination Skin
      EGF Essence

      • Ingredients work to balance skin
      • Lightweight
      • Refreshing and softening

      • Expensive

      This alcohol-, oil-, and fragrance-free formula from BioEffect is perfect for balancing combination skin with both dry and oily areas. “I wasn’t an essence user until this came along — it contains the same potent growth factors found in the brand's serums,” Dr. Aral says. “It refreshes and hydrates skin at the same time, especially in the summer when I don’t need heavy moisturization."

      Main Benefits: Softening, refreshing
      Key Ingredients: Epidermal growth factor, citric acid
      3.38 oz.

      Best Toner for Oily Skin
      Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner
      Herbivore Botanicals

      • Minimizes oil
      • Pleasant scent
      • Easy-to-use spray

      • Glass bottle not portable

      Combat a greasy complexion with this toner spray, made with oil-reducing witch hazel and willow bark (a form of salicylic acid), plus jasmine water for a subtle floral, not medicinal, scent. "It immediately makes my face feel less oily," one Dermstore reviewer raved. Meanwhile, antioxidant-loaded green tea extract helps reduce the appearance of fine lines.

      Main Benefits: Purifying, oil-reducing
      Key Ingredients: Witch hazel, willow bark
      4 oz.

      Best Toner for Sensitive Skin
      Immortelle Essential Water

      • Soothes skin
      • Contains natural ingredients
      • Botanical scent

      • Not astringent for oily or acne-prone skin

      L'Occitane's toner water is infused with soothing botanicals like helichrysum (immortelle) extract, rose water and sunflower seed oil to tamp down on redness and calm skin. When I use this, my face feels instantly cooled and calm. Plus, it smells herbal and warm, like immortelle flowers dried in the Corsican sun, where the ingredient is harvested.

      Main Benefit: Soothing
      Key Ingredients:
       Botanical oils and waters, hyaluronic acid
      6.7 oz.

      Best Toner for Tightening Pores
      Witch Hazel Pore Clarifying Toner
      Now 19% off

      • Contains powerful pore-clearing ingredients
      • Bargain price

      • May be drying or irritating for dry/sensitive skin

      Infused with the skin-clearing active ingredient salicylic acid plus astringent witch hazel and alcohol, this Bioré toner helps dissolve oil and prevent clogged complexions and enlarged pores. "It made my blackheads disappear!" one Amazon reviewer raved. 

      Main Benefits: Oil-reducing, pore clarifying
      Key Ingredients:
       Salicylic acid, witch hazel
      8 oz.

      Best Brightening Toner
      Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Essence

      • Exfoliates skin to brighten
      • Natural scent

      • Pricey
      • Glass bottle not portable

      Even out skin tone with this Caudalie essence toner, made with exfoliating, brightening glycolic and citric acids, plus nourishing glycerin and grape and orange flower waters. A GH beauty team favorite, it's also earned rave reviews on Dermstore. "After one week, my dark spots vanished," a reviewer marveled. 

      Main Benefits: Exfolating, brightening
      Key Ingredients:
       Glycolic and citric acids
      lSize: 5oz.

      Best Anti-Aging Toner
      Facial Treatment Essence

      • Smooths skin

      • Pricey
      • Glass bottle not portable

      A pioneer in the treatment essence category, SK-II's powerful liquid is a cult classic for its skin-smoothing effects on mature skin, thanks to a proprietary yeast extract that gently exfoliates skin. "My skin texture and tone really improved shortly after I started using this," a Dermstore reviewer said.  

      Main Benefits: Smoothing, exfoliating
      Key Ingredients:
       Yeast extract
      2.5 oz.

      Best Hydrating Toner
      Pure Shots Hydra Bounce Essence-in-Lotion
      Yves Saint Laurent
      Yves Saint Laurent

      • Plumps dry skin
      • Contains softening ingredients

      • Pricey
      • Doesn't contain purifying or acne-fighting ingredients

      Another GH beauty editor favorite for dry complexions, Yves Saint Laurent's essence is formulated with nourishing ingredients like vitamins E and B3. "This toner is more viscous than other more liquidy formulas, so it feels cushiony going on dehydrated skin and leaves it feeling fresh and plump," one GH beauty editor notes. 

      Main Benefits: Softening, plumping
      Key Ingredients: Vitamin E and B3
      3.4 oz.

      Best Natural Toner
      Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Facial Toner

      • Made with plant-based ingredients
      • Alcohol-free
      • Great value

      • May be dehydrating

      Go back to basics with this classic, unscented Thayers toner that contains no alcohol. It's based on just a few naturally-derived ingredients, including witch hazel and aloe, making it a great choice for any skin type. 

      Main Benefits: Purifying
      Key Ingredients:
       Witch hazel, aloe
      Size: 12 oz.

      Best Toner for Redness
      CLEAR Extra Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution
      Paula's Choice
      Paula's Choice

      • Minimizes inflammation
      • Contains acne treatment ingredients

      • Could irritate those sensitive to acids

      Tackle both redness and breakouts at once with this exfoliating toner from Paula's Choice. "It absorbs quickly, reducing the appearance of redness and pores," Wnek says. "It also contains salicylic acid for acne-fighting, so checks off many boxes for my unique skin."

      Main Benefits: Redness-reducing, acne-fighting
      Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid
      Size: 4 oz.

      Best K-Beauty Toner
      Watermelon Glow PHA +BHA Pore-Tight Toner
      Glow Recipe
      Glow Recipe

      • Minimizes appearance of pores
      • Increases radiance

      • Fruity scent may be polarizing

      From the brand inspired by Korean beauty, Glow Recipe, this toner is part of the Watermelon Glow collection, which has gained a cult following. Made with salicylic acid and a long list of botanical extracts, "this toner managed to boost radiance, reduce the look of my pores and keep my breakouts to a minimum," a Sephora reviewer raved.

      Main Benefits: Exfolating, radiance-boosting
      Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid
      Size: 5.07 oz

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