To tone or not to tone: It’s a question that’s up for debate even within the dermatology community. “Honestly, you will get a different opinion depending on who you ask,” says Rachel E. Maiman, a board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York.
“Proponents of toners say that they offer a gentler alternative to cleansing in the morning, especially for people with sensitive skin for whom washing twice a day can be too much,” she explains. “Another argument for using toner is that it can help prep the skin for serums and moisturizers by getting rid of any excess oil or dirt that a cleanser may have missed.”
That said, not all toners are created equal. Some toners are alcohol-based or have a high alcohol content, which according to Maiman, “has the potential to cause significant irritation by stripping the skin of excessive moisture and deplete its lipid barrier.”
If you have oilier skin (which, if you’re reading this, we’re going to assume you do), you should be able to tolerate a slightly more astringent toner but keep an eye on the active ingredients (more on that later) and their strength, as too much of a good thing can backfire.