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Everyone knows that toner application is the second step of what we know as a basic skincare regime (cleanse, tone, moisturise), but it is a step that many people tend to neglect. It is either because they think it is not important, or perhaps they have had bad experiences with toners.

Like all other products, not all toners are the same; they are formulated differently to help different skin types cope with their conditions.

What does a toner do?

applying toner

Our skin is slightly acidic naturally, and it is how we’d like to keep it so that it remains healthy. However, skin that is too oily is usually more acidic, while skin that is dry has a higher pH (more alkaline). As such, toners can help to balance the pH level of our skin, to either increase or decrease its acidity to reach the ideal skin pH to prep our skin for other skincare products.

This means that if you have oily skin (acidic) and use a toner that’s intended for those with dry skin, you’re probably increasing the acidity of your skin even further. And this may be why you find that your skin feels even oilier after using a toner.

Apart from balancing the skin’s pH, a toner also helps to cleanse your skin of any debris that’s left behind after you have used a cleanser.

If you have oily skin

Those with oily skin need something that can regulate sebum production, and also refine pores and prevent acne – two problems that are common if you have oily skin. If you fall into this category, use an astringent. Astringents usually carry alcohol, as well as ingredients like salicylic acid and witch hazel; both are known for regulating sebum production and preventing pimples from appearing. An astringent also helps to refine the appearance of your pores, which in turn help prevent the penetration of impurities, and this helps stop pimples from appearing.

Try these:

SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion

SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion (SGD94)
Thanks to AHA (a kind of acid) and SK-II’s star ingredient, Pitera, this has the ability exfoliate dead skin cells, remove impurities, and clarify skin. Your oily skin will also appreciate its light texture.


Aesop Bitter Orange Astringent Toner (SGD45)
A refreshing astringent toner that’s gentle and even hydrating, it’s great especially for those with oily or blemish-prone skin, and can thoroughly cleanse and prep your skin for your skincare routine.

DrGL Toner Oil Control

DrGL Toner Oil Control (SGD68)
If your skin is prone to shine because of over-production of sebum, this helps to control sebum production so your skin can remain fresh-looking for longer. It also hydrates skin and has anti-ageing benefits.

If you have dry skin

You need to use the opposite of what an astringent offers. This means that you should look out for products that are free from alcohol, salicylic acid, and witch hazel. Use an astringent and you’ll find your skin become even drier, to the extent of irritation. Opt for a water-based toner that are packed with calming ingredients instead. Ingredients like chamomile and rosewater are some examples of soothing ingredients that can help your skin.

Try these:

Origins Make A Difference Plus+ Rejuvenating Treatment Lotion

Origins Make A Difference Plus+ Rejuvenating Treatment Lotion (SGD48)
Fortified with Rose of Jericho and Lychee and Watermelon complex, this keeps skin feeling rejuvenated and deliver a powerful dose of moisturising benefits to dehydrated skin.

Laneige Power Essential Skin Refiner

Laneige Power Essential Skin Refiner (SGD45)
Formulated with ingredients that help revitalise skin, prompt skin cell turnover, and give a moisturising boost to skin, this toner is positioned as a wonderful solution to those with intensely dry skin.

By Terry Cellularose Hydra Toner

By Terry Cellularose Hydra Toner
This alcohol-free toner from By Terry is energising and hydrating. Enriched with rose extracts, it gently removes all traces of impurities, and at the same time serves as a perk-me-up for dull-looking skin.

If you have special concerns

There are also toners that help with working with the rest of your skincare products to address a single skincare concern that you’re most worried about. Different skincare concerns are usually related to a certain skin type. For instance, those who have oily skin usually see more issues with enlarged pores, acne, and shine. On the other hand, if you have dry skin, chances are you’ll be more susceptible to problems like fine lines, dull complexion, and flaky skin. If these issues are worrying for you, then pick a toner that can help target at these concerns.

Try these:

For enlarged pores

Dr. Wu Acnecur Pore Refining Toner

Dr. Wu Acnecur Pore Refining Toner (SGD39.90)
This toner regulates sebum production and unclogs pores while deeply cleansing them so they look smaller. It has generous amount of witch hazel extract that can help reduce inflammation.

For anti-ageing

Perricone MD Firming Facial Toner

Perricone MD Firming Facial Toner
This toner has Alpha Lipoic Acid and DMAE, both known for their anti-wrinkle and firming benefits so that skin looks more youthful. The non-drying formula also helps refine skin’s texture.

For brightening

Biotherm Liquid White Cosmetic Water

Biotherm Liquid White Cosmetic Water (SGD55)
Potent brightening serums and essences can be enhanced with this toner. It detoxifies and purifies skin to prepare it to receive the benefits of the products you apply later.