When you’re on a budget it can be tempting to abandon your search for the best toner and ditch it from your skincare routine, but it has many more benefits than you may realise.
Put simply, toner gives your skin a quick burst of hydration while removing dead cells from the surface. This helps remove any dirt missed by your cleanser and helps stop any traces of cleanser from clogging up your skin. It also results in brighter, smoother-looking skin. You can learn more in our What does toner do? article.
What’s more, just like a primer prepares your skin for makeup, toner can be seen as a primer for the rest of your skincare products. It helps freshen the skin for your serum and makes it easier for your skin to absorb your moisturiser. If you’ve spent a lot of money on serums and moisturisers but scrimp on the toner, you’re doing your skin (and your wallet) a disservice.
Plus, just like a moisturiser, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all toner so we’ve picked out what we consider to be the best toners, toning solutions and tonics for a range of skin types below.
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£14 | Buy now from Beauty Bay
Why we love it: With a range of ingredients including natural tea tree oil, citric acid and grapefruit extract, Carbon Theory‘s Facial Purifying Tonic gently cleanses and refines pores all while reducing redness and inflammation.
Citric Acid works by removing dead skin cells to increase cell turnover and treat mild acne, pigmentation, clogged pores and dark spots.
Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic, which means its also prevents future breakouts, while the Facial Purifying Tonic’s grapefruit extract minimises shine, promotes cell regeneration, eradicates dead skin cells and controls your complexion.
This toner is ideal for acne-prone and oily skin, particularly when used with the Carbon Theory Cleansing Bar that features in our best cleanser list, and at £14 it’s not too expensive either.
£2.65 | Buy now from Superdrug
Why we love it: With argan oil and aloe vera, Nivea’s 2-in-1 is definitely more on the moisturising side of toners, offering a more relaxed and soothing experience instead of exfoliation.
This helps to remove traces of makeup, including stubborn eye makeup, while maintaining your skin’s natural moisture and enhancing your glow.
The toner element of the product then helps to refine pores and remove dead skin cells. Its toning properties aren’t as effective as others in this list, but for its price and versatility, it’s a great addition to your skincare regime. It also saves time applying two products of a morning or evening.
Because it feels like a moisturiser, don’t be tempted to use this in place of your day or night cream because it lacks some of the typical moisturising ingredients – which you can read more about in our Science of moisturiser page – and you’ll need to remember to rinse this 2-in-1 cleanser and toner off.
Due to the fact it’s more versatile than others in this list, we’d recommend for this people with relatively uncomplicated skin. It’s also gentle enough to use on sensitive skin.
£72 | Buy now from All Beauty
Why we love it: Definitely an expensive choice, which will put it out of most people’s price ranges but this toner from La Mer goes some way towards justifying its high price tag with a host of luxury ingredients, including La Mer’s pioneering Miracle Broth.
The brand story goes that La Mer’s Miracle Broth was developed by aerospace physicist Dr. Max Huber who had suffered burns in a lab accident and wanted to develop a lotion to help deal with the scarring and skin damage.
Some 6,000 experiments and 12 years of searching led to the development of a fermentation process that turned sea kelp and other pure ingredients into Miracle Broth.
It works to purify, nourish and refresh the skin. It purifies, it nourishes, it refreshes the skin, leaving you with a healthy glow, reduced redness and irritation and no signs of any dirt, grease or grime from the day. Especially great for people living in areas with high pollution levels.
From £24 | Buy now from Feelunique
Why we love it: We are huge fans of The Ordinary brand because it produces simple, yet highly effective products for bargain prices and its toner is no exception.
Its Glycolic Acid Toning Solution is a must-have for anyone looking to stick to a budget while still achieving amazing results.
It gently exfoliates the skin, improving the skin’s texture and brightness and includes alpha hydroxyl, which isn’t too harsh and doesn’t leave the skin feeling tight.
For a toner, it has an amazing smell with Tasmanian pepper berry, ginseng and aloe vera, which also works well to reduce redness or irritation.
Why we love it: Don’t be put off by the bright colours of Pixi’s range of skincare products; it makes them appear almost acidic and potentially harsh but they’re far from it.
The Pixi Glow tonic is an exfoliating, alcohol-free, cruelty-free toner designed to give you smoother, brighter, and clearer skin.
Like The Ordinary’s toning solution, Pixi’s Glow Tonic uses glycolic acid (5%) to gently buff dead skin and impurities which helps to refine the appearance of pores and stimulate cell renewal.
Enriched with Ginseng to improve circulation and Aloe Vera to replenish vital moisture, the hydrating tonic helps to restore a natural balance and soothe the skin. Expect a smooth, energised and glowing finish.
It comes with myriad botanical extracts, including ginseng to improve circulation and aloe vera to moisturise and balance the skin and because this formulation isn’t too harsh, it suits all skin types including sensitive skin.
It’s not cheap, but you can buy a smaller, travel-sized 100ml bottle for £10 if you wanted to try it before splashing out on the larger, 250ml version.
£21 | Buy now from Clarins
Why we love it: Clarins Extra Comfort Toning Lotion has one of the lightest formulas in our list of best toners and, as consequently, it’s ideal for dry or sensitive skin.
The soothing formula, which contains linden, sweet almond, marshmallow and mango, leaves skin feeling soft and supple without stripping it of moisture resulting in a healthy-looking glow.
It also slides over the skin to remove anything sitting on the skin including dirt and grime and any traces of cleanser missed in the previous step.
Elly is a production journalist and sub-editor for a number of national newspapers and magazines including The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, and Woman and Woman’s Own magazine. A beauty-enthusiast, she loves travelling – especially to the States – reading and calligraphy