Saturday, January 24, 2009

A cleanser cleanses. A moisturizer moisturizes. A toner.....tones?

I have come to the opinion that toner is a completely skippable step, almost a scam. Most toners do little more than moisten the skin, which helps moisturizer penetrate better. However, you can get the same effect if you apply moisturizer when your skin is still damp from cleansing. Otherwise, the ingredients in toner are in such low concentration and on the skin for such a short period of time that, ultimately, they have no real effect. You probably get more benefit from the exfoliation of the cotton ball than from the toner itself.

A HUGE pet peeve of mine is when a beauty consultant claims that you need to use all of the products in their system in order for any of them to be effective. Try this: the next time someone at the makeup counter says that you have to have the toner in order for their moisturizer to be effective, or even worse, that you need toner to remove the residue that their cleanser leaves (if it's a cleanser worth buying, why would it leave you dirty?) say "I really don't want to use a toner, so I guess I'll try another line." See how quickly the salesperson changes their tune.

One exception to this is toners that offer treatment benefits normally found in products too harsh for some skin types. Ingredients like glycolic and salicylic acid have great benefits but may cause extreme irritation on skin that is dry or sensitive. The toner I currently use has a 2% concentration of glycolic Acid (while an over-the-counter moisturizer may have up to 10%). The low concentration of acid in the toner allows me to reap the benefits without irritation.

If you're a product junkie like me, or if you just feel like you'd be missing a step, using a toner is probably not going to do any harm. But, if you're looking to shorten your routine or save some money, editing this step is something you're unlikely to miss. I promise, NO ONE will ever look at your face and say, "Did you stop toning?"

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