The Perfect Finishing Touch: 2018's Best Skin Toners | Smarter Reviews

The Perfect Finishing Touch: 2018's Best Skin Toners

A fresh, clean face is the foundation of everyday beauty. With the right skin toner for you, you'll always be ready for the perfect look.

The Perfect Finishing Touch: 2018's Best Skin Toners

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when wandering down a skin-care aisle. From toners and cleansers to exfoliators, lotions, anti-aging products, and more, there is just so much to choose from.

So, what do you really need? In addition to a cleanser, many dermatologists recommend a toner, referring to it as the second step of the cleansing process. (1)

This, of course, leads to a few big questions. What is a toner? Why do you need it? How do you choose the right one?

Below, you’ll find the answers to all these questions, giving you a clear understanding of what toners are and why they are important. At the end, you’ll find our reviews on five of the top toners currently on the market.

What is a Toner?

A skin toner or toner is simply a wash or lotion that is responsible for completing the cleansing of your skin.

Removes Dust & impurities

Even when you have just washed your face, residue, including dust and impurities, as well as oil from your cleanser, is likely to remain on your face. A toner makes certain it all comes off. In addition, toners help minimize your pores’ appearance.

Used after washing

After washing your face and patting it dry, a toner can be applied by putting two or three drops on a cotton ball or pad and wiping it across your face. You should use enough pressure to get deep into your pores, but not so much force that it pulls your skin.

THE TOP BENEFITS OF TONERS

  1. Soothing, repairing, and smoothing the skin’s surface
  2. Reducing the appearance of blemishes, redness, and inflammation
  3. Prepping your skin for anti-aging serums and treatments
  4. Balancing your skin’s pH levels, making your skin less prone to oiliness and even infection
  5. Shrinking and tightening your pores
  6. Hydrating your skin to maintain smoothness, elasticity, and a more youthful appearance
  7. Reducing acne and helping to prevent future breakouts

How to Choose the Perfect Toner for Your Skin

There are several things you should consider when selecting a toner. Following the tips below will help you narrow down your options.

Find a toner that matches your skin type

Typically, dry skin is best served by a pH-balancing or exfoliating toner, while normal and oily skin respond best to a hydrating toner. If you have combination skin, you may need to purchase two different toners.

Keep any skin concerns in mind

There may be specific skin concerns you want to address, such as acne or irritation. If you are concerned about acne or aging, an exfoliating toner is a great option. If your skin is sensitive or irritated, a pH-balancing toner will likely work best. If your skin is especially dehydrated, look for a rehydrating toner.

Stay away from certain ingredients

This includes any ingredients that have the potential to be harmful to your health, such as parabens and PEGs, as well as any form of alcohol, which will leave your skin incredibly dry.

Look for certain ingredients

While you’re studying the ingredients list, look for aloe vera, chamomile extract, cucumber extract, rose, and hyaluronic acid. They are great for all skin types and help balance your skin’s pH.

Don’t equate high price with high quality

Some of the best toners on the market, as you’ll see below, are actually very inexpensive.

OUR SPECIALIZED RANKING SYSTEM

Now, that you have a better understand of toners and how you can benefit from their use, it’s time to look at some of the most popular products on the market. At Smarter Reviews, we employ a comprehensive evaluation system to analyze and measure the full value of products. This is based on component quality, safety, potential effectiveness, return policies, and overall customer satisfaction. We call our method the Smarter Reviews Ranking System.

TOP 5 Toners

Now, it's time to look at five of the top toners.

1. Neutrogena Alcohol & Oil-Free Toner

Total Ranking

621 votes

9.7/10

A+

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    9.8/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    9.8/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    9.6/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    9.5/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    9.6/10

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5/10

PROS

  • Safe ingredients that are gentle on your face
  • Leaves your face moisturized, bright, and refreshed
  • Users report fewer acne outbreaks
  • Very affordable

CONS

  • Toner gushes out because of the wide spout
  • Several people commented on the strong smell, though they reported they also were "super-sensitive" to odors
The Bottom Line

Neutrogena is the #1 OTC brand recommended by dermatologists in the US, which should give you peace of mind when it comes to safety. (2) The Neutrogena Oil and Alcohol-Free Toner is both non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic. This toner is made primarily from mild purifiers, which gently remove impurities while conditioning the skin.

User comments often include “leaves my face clean and moisturized,” “doesn’t dry my skin out,” and “after using for several months, I’ve had significantly fewer breakouts and zits.” Several report they have been using it for years because it “balanced my skin out.” Although there were very few unsatisfied customers, those who were often reported “irritated my sensitive skin, causing burning and left my skin shiny.”

It’s hard to go wrong with any Neutrogena products, particularly this alcohol and oil-free toner. Plus, it’s also almost impossible to dispute the high number of stellar reviews that rave about the product.It contains safe ingredients that usually leave your face well-moisturized and with fewer acne outbreaks.

Overall, this is, undoubtedly, one of the best toners currently on the market. As an added bonus, it’s not just gentle and effective, it’s also affordable, making it an easy choice for the Smarter Reviews Top Pick.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

Learn About Our Top Pick

2. Shiseido Pureness Balancing Softener for Unisex

Total Ranking

315 votes

9.5/10

A

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    9.5/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    9.6/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    9.3/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    9.4/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    9.7/10

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5/10

PROS

  • Doesn’t leave your face feeling sticky
  • Alcohol-free
  • Feels good going on

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Available primarily online and at high-end cosmetics retailers
The Bottom Line

Shiseido Pureness Balancing Softener for Unisex is from a long-standing Japanese institution. Founded in 1872 in Tokyo, Shiseido continues to do most of their operations in Asia, though their products are used globally.

Users report you need just ½ a pump of their toner for your entire face. Provided you use it infrequently, a small bottle may last you as long as a couple of months.

Some reviewers report “love it, not sticky or oily" and "feels good going on." Japanese cosmetics are renowned around the world for their high-quality effectiveness. Shiseido is a respected brand and this toner is worth the price, which is, admittedly, quite high.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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3. SkinCeuticals Equalizing & Pore-Refining Toner

Total Ranking

328 votes

9.2/10

a-

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    9.3/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    9.2/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    8.9/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    9.2/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    9.3/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Many long-term users
  • Oil- and fragrance-free
  • Cutting-edge scientific backing

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Can be difficult to find
The Bottom Line

SkinCeuticals Equalizing Toner Pore Refining Toner has used an array of botanical extracts, such as aloe, chamomile, and rosemary, along with hydroxyl acids to create this toner. This Equalizing Toner contains antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Founded in 1994, using the research of Dr. Sheldon Pinnell, a renowned dermatologist and the Founding Father of Topical Antioxidants, SkinCeuticals has combined cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to create skincare products that contain ingredients clinically proven to enhance skincare. (3)

It’s referred to as a “must have” by multiple customers who report they have been using it for years. Apparently, it “doesn’t smell or leave your face too dry, but it is gentle and minimizes your pores.” The price was the main cause of concern among customers.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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4. Clinique Clarifying Lotion Twice-a-Day Exfoliator #3

Total Ranking

581 votes

8.8/10

b+

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    8.9/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    9/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    8.7/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    8.8/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    8.7/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Reputation for high quality
  • Can be used twice a day without skin irritation

CONS

  • Developed with "Asian skin in mind"
  • High price
The Bottom Line

Clinique Clarifying Lotion Twice-a-Day Exfoliator #3 is from the world’s first allergy-tested, fragrance-free, and dermatologist-driven cosmetic and skincare line. Clinique is on a mission to be the most-trusted prestige beauty brand in the world. (4)

Since 1968, Clinique has developed a reputation for high-quality, effective skincare products. This Clarifying Lotion almost certainly continues to meet the brand’s high standards.

However, you have to wonder if there is anything in the formula developed with, as the company states, “Asian skin in mind” that might not benefit non-Asian skin. (5) (This probably isn’t the case, but without more information from the company on what this means, one can’t be sure.) Finally, there’s the high price to consider.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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5. Lancome Pure Focus Toner

Total Ranking

576 votes

8.4/10

b-

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    9/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    8/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    8.4/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    8.5/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    8.4/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Contains zinc gluconate, which promotes healthy skin and reduces acne (7)
  • Slows down sebum production

CONS

  • High price
  • Contains several alcohols
  • Potentially dangerous ingredients
The Bottom Line

Lancome Pure Focus Toner is made by a part of the L'Oreal brand. L'Oreal sits at the top of the luxury cosmetics market, thanks to their gorgeous makeup lines and innovative skin care products.

Unfortunately, this toner include several potentially hazardous ingredients, including methylparaben, a preservative that studies show may increase your risk of breast cancer, enhance damage caused by exposure to UV rays, and even change the lining of your eyes, if it comes in contact with them. (6)

Obviously, that means that this toner is not a good option. Yes, it may contain some healthy ingredients, but that doesn’t cancel out the dangerous ingredients. At the same time, it is rather expensive and doesn’t have near enough satisfied customer reviews to give our full recommendation.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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Citations

  1. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/toner-necessary_n_2124513.html

  2. https://www.amazon.com/Neutrogena-Alcohol-Oil-Free-Toner
  3. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dr-sheldon-pinnell
  4. http://www.clinique.jobs/clinique/our-history.html
  5. https://www.amazon.com/Clinique-Clarifying-Lotion-Twice-Exfoliator
  6. https://www.livestrong.com/article/21581-dangers-methylparaben/
  7. https://www.livestrong.com/article/287579-what-are-the-benefits-of-zinc-gluconate-for-skin

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