Choreography-Watch Your Tone


(So sorry for the cheesy title…I just had to.)

Toner may seem like the most boring step in your skincare routine, next to sunscreen. And I’m sure you’ve all had an astringent experience, probably during your teenage years, where the burn meant it was working. That is absolutely NOT what a toner should feel like.

A toner is meant to help repair your skin’s protective barrier. A weak barrier is the cause of dry skin, among other things. Several factors contribute to weakening your barrier: sun damage, environmental damage, and cleansing are just a few. They’ll also help prep your skin to receive your moisturizing products. Obviously you wouldn’t want a harsh, stinging astringent on your face, knowing that it’s supposed to repair and rebuild. Below is a little chart briefly covering the three categories of toners and their benefit:

Toner Chart

(A word about alcohols in skincare: I’ll be doing a whole post on this next month. What you need to know now is that not all cosmetic alcohols are created equal. Some are very drying and damaging and should be avoided at all costs; others are actually hydrating and beneficial. Do your own research if you don’t want to wait for my post.)

If you’re overall happy with your skincare products, but aren’t loving your skin just yet, try adding in a toner/freshener. According to Paula Begoun, “daily use will give your skin what it needs to function in a younger, healthier way.” My fantastic spa educator at Aveda was the first to educate me on the importance and potency of a great toner; one of the first things she said, when teaching us about giving product recommendations, was that she always recommended a toner to her clients. She often reminded us that toner is the missing link in most skincare regimens.


Here are a few toner recommendations from The Little Book of Skincare, as well as personal experience (italics indicate that these suggestions are pulled from the book, not personal experience):

  • Aveda Skin Firming Toner (one of Aveda’s better products)
  • Mario Badescu Rosewater Skin Freshener (I really don’t like that the ingredients list notes “fragrance” and dyes…however…they’re pretty low on the list, and I’ve noticed great results on my own skin)
  • RE:P Organic Cotton Treatment Toning Pad
  • Son & Park Beauty Water
  • Su:m37 Water-full Skin Refresher
  • Missha Time Revolution Clear Toner


There’s been quite a lot of talk lately about using apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a toner, and witch hazel has always been a popular natural answer. I’ve never used either of these as a toner, and I don’t know much about how they affect they skin. I know that some swear that ACV is a miracle toner and has made their face look like it’s been washed in the blood of Bathory’s virgins, and I know that Veronica Gorgeois (askanesthetician on YouTube) claims that she’s observed considerable skin damage in those who use it. This is something I plan on researching further, and will post about once I’m better educated on the subject!



Milady Fundamentals Esthetics textbook

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here, Paula Begoun

The Little Book of Skincare, Charlotte Cho)


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