One of the most common questions clients ask when walking into our beauty bar on any given day is, "What is toner?" usually followed closely by, "Why do I need it?" Toner sometimes gets a bad rap as an unnecessary add-on, designed just so there's another product for people to buy. It doesn't help that the uses and benefits of toner are often vaguely and confusingly represented in ads and skincare messages we see in the media, with sayings like: "Cleans and tones skin." Okay, so what does that actually mean? 

Toner is so much more than an afterthought or 'add-on' - it's actually a crucial building block in any healthy skincare routine! The right toner helps your skin regain its proper pH balance after the day to day whirlwind of makeup application, sun exposure, temperature and atmospheric changes, and even cleansing. 

Still scratching your head a little? - April Manring, our founder and maker of all things Hidden Forest, is here to demystify the ins and outs of toner for you step by step - breaking down what it is, what it does, and how to choose the one that's right for your skin! 


Traci Q: So what is toner? 

April A - Toner is the perfect way to balance your skin after cleansing. Many times our skin is showing signs of imbalance through acne breakouts, or feeling overly dry. Toner is the perfect tool to bring our skin back to balance. It is also the most neglected step, but the secret to happy glowing skin.

Q: What is the purpose of toner?

Our skin is happiest at a pH of 5.5. Toner balances the pH of your skin. If you are acne prone the skin is too acidic. So finding a slightly alkaline toner can help balance the acidic nature. If the skin is dry, it is too alkaline, so finding a toner that has a lower pH can bring it to a happy balance of 5.5.

Toning 1 minute after cleansing allows all the beneficial molecules to absorb into the skin as it is still wet. 

Q: What happens when I skip toner after cleansing?

If we skip toning and go straight for the moisturizer we can miss out on the benefit of having our skin's pH balanced and primed for receiving the benefits of the serum or moisturizer we are using. 

Q: Are all toners the same?

Toner pH and ingredients can vary greatly. It's important to identify your skin's imbalance so you can find the perfect toner to nourish and correct the imbalance. 

Q: What ingredients should I look for in a good toner?

Be sure the toner begins with a hydrating water. Aloe or pure rose water are good starters. For acne prone skin, one with witch hazel that is alcohol free will be beneficial. If the skin is acne prone yet dry and patchy, avoid any astringent toners that could sting, burn or irritate the skin. For dry skin types, be sure to look for toners that do not have witch hazel nor any astringent type ingredients. The Hidden Forest Glow toner is launching next month and is perfect for dry, inflamed skin as it has a low pH and contains vitamin C and colloidal silver. 

Q: Are there any ingredients I should avoid?

Never put isopropyl alcohol on the skin, nor peroxide. This is common advice passed down from sisters or mothers who mean well and think it makes sense to "dry" out the skin from excessive sebum production or acne. This will harm your skin's delicate balance no matter what your skin type is. For oily skin or acne prone skin, the alcohol will only add to the problem, encouraging the skin to produce yet more oil!

Q: How do I tell which toner is right for my skin?

Check for the pH. Some companies will label their toners with the pH. This will help narrow the choices of which toner will work for you. Here are the basic guidelines. 

Oily - pH 6-7

should include witch hazel (alcohol free)

Dry - pH 5-3.5

should include aloe, glycerine, or rosewater for hydrating and soothing

Combination - pH 5

look for a toner with vitamin C and MSM

Q: When should I use toner?

Always directly after cleansing morning and evening. Toner can also be used to set your makeup, as well as to refresh the skin midday. 

Q: How do I apply toner?

Toners can be spritzed, patted, or spread on with a cotton round. Be sure to apply it the recommended way on the bottle. For those struggling with irritated acne or sensitive, dry skin, it's best to avoid any rubbing motion with toner. Be sure to use a spray or pat method. 

Q: What results can I expect to see when I start using toner?

Toner can calm, soothe, balance, and all around help your skin glow. We mostly live in dry, climate controlled environments. It's important to have a toner on hand to rehydrate midday, this can also help the skin re-balance after encountering environmental toxins. 


We encourage you to find the toner that's right for your skin and start spritzing - you'll love how it enhances your glow!

Got a makeup or skincare question you want April to tackle? Send in your questions to traci@bepurebeauty.com and I'll pass them along - you may even see the topic turn up here on the blog!

Leave a comment