Curating the perfect skincare regimen can often feel overwhelming. Between the 12-step nightly routines we hear more and more about and the pressure to keep your skincare simple, short, and sweet, it’s tough to know which products are actually worthy of a place in your bathroom cabinet and which you can skip. But, if you find yourself regularly fighting breakouts or controlling your acne-prone skin, you’d likely benefit from adding a toner to your skincare lineup.
While there continues to be some confusion over what defines a toner—in large part due to the departure from the strong, over-stripping astringents that made up the category in the 1970s and ’80s—it’s best understood as a water-based liquid that delivers deep and fast hydration and primes skin for the rest of your routine. Even so, “there is still no uniform definition across the beauty industry of what a toner actually does as their functions vary from brand to brand,” explains Shereene Idriss, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “Depending on what it contains, it may also deliver a boost of antioxidants or even serve as an exfoliating step to get rid of dead skin cells and unnecessary build up.”