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CeraVe Skin Smarts Skincare Tips Advice Tips For Including Toner In Your Skincare Routine


When used correctly, toner can help gently cleanse, nourish, and refresh your skin, without stripping away its essential moisture. With so many common misconceptions surrounding the use of facial toners, it’s important to understand that not all toning products are drying or harsh on the skin. In fact, a well-formulated toner can elevate your skincare routine—with beneficial ingredients that hydrate and support the skin barrier—as well as remove excess dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities. To help us better understand the many benefits of face toners, as well as how to best use our new CeraVe Hydrating Toner, we called upon Dr. Dustin Portela for his expertise in this helpful skincare guide.

Facts About Facial Toners

  • There are many different types of toners used in skincare, with formulas designed for various skin types and to address multiple skin concerns.
  • Toners are applied after cleansing, in the morning and at night. They help balance the skin’s pH and remove excess dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities.
  • All skin types can benefit from including a gentle, hydrating toner in their daily routine. However, it’s crucial to know what to look for when choosing a toner for your skin type and to seek the help of a dermatologist when needed.
  • All facial toners are not created equal. Look for toning products that are pH-balanced, developed with dermatologists, non-comedogenic, and free from harsh astringents, drying alcohol, and fragrance.

What Is Toner?

Toner is a type of skincare product that has a liquid consistency and is usually formulated with a water base. The primary goal of toner is to help balance the skin’s pH level and remove impurities left on the skin after cleansing—including residual dirt, oil, and makeup. “A toner is best used after cleansing the skin,” says Dr. Portela, “to help remove leftover residue and lock in moisture.” According to Dr. Portela, “toner can be applied while the skin is still damp.” All in all, facial toner is one extra step that can enhance your skincare regimen and help improve the appearance of your skin’s surface.


Are All Toners Drying?

In the past, alcohol-based toners gained somewhat of a negative reputation for being “harsh” on the skin, as many of these formulas contained drying ingredients that strip the skin of essential moisture. However, toners have greatly evolved in recent years and are now available in alcohol-free variations that contain gentle, pH-balancing, and skin barrier-restoring ingredients. When choosing a toner to include in your daily routine, it’s important to be informed and read the product label carefully for any potentially irritating or drying ingredients. Dr. Portela recommends avoiding toners with alcohol, fragrance, and harsh astringents, as they can be drying to the skin.


What’s the Difference Between Toners and Astringents?

Although their liquid consistencies are often very similar, astringents and toners can vary greatly in their formulations and intended uses. Astringents are generally alcohol-based and therefore may dry out the skin, making them unsuitable for some skin types (such as sensitive or dry skin). Astringents are generally considered to be the more “potent” of these two skincare products, and usually target oily and acne-prone skin. On the other hand, toners are commonly viewed as gentler options suitable for all skin types that are formulated with hydrating and nourishing ingredients.


What Are the Benefits of Using a Toner?

To enjoy the maximum benefits from your toner, Dr. Portela reminds us that the ingredients matter. “Look for gentle toners with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.” He also recommends looking for toners formulated with ceramides, “which will help restore and protect the skin’s natural barrier by locking moisture in and helping to seal out impurities.”


A well-formulated toner can help your complexion appear fresher, smoother, and more balanced—without over-drying your skin. Toners can be found in formulas that are aimed at targeting a number of different skin concerns, from enlarged pores to uneven skin tone. However, toners all have one thing in common: They help rebalance your skin after cleansing and help create the ideal “base” upon which the rest of your skincare routine lies.


Who Should Use a Toner?

“Anyone can use a hydrating toner in their skincare routine,” says Dr. Portela. However, the decision to include toner in your routine is completely up to you, and depends on your skincare goals and concerns. CeraVe facial toners can help visibly tone your skin, while also hydrating, smoothing, and helping to restore the skin’s natural barrier. If you’re unsure whether or not toner is right for you, seek the advice of a dermatologist for the best personalized recommendation. Remember: Your skincare routine can be as extensive or simple as you choose, as long as your primary bases are covered with a daily cleanser, moisturizer, and sun protection.


What To Look For in a Facial Toner

With so many types of products to choose from, it can be challenging to decipher which toner is best for your skin’s needs. To help you choose a gentle, yet effective facial toner, here are a few of the top factors to keep in mind:

  • When choosing a toner, CeraVe recommends looking for options that are labeled “non-comedogenic.” This means that the product has been specially formulated not to clog your pores. Non-comedogenic and oil-free products can be beneficial for all skin types, but are especially helpful for people with oily skin.

  • “Throughout the day, environmental insults and exposures can alter the pH of our skin barrier,” says Dr. Portela, noting that, “an altered barrier can lead to itching, dry skin, and other problems.” Therefore, he advises that finding a formula that is pH-balanced can “also help keep skin healthy because it restores skin’s pH balance.”


    This is especially important after cleansing, since your skin is naturally more acidic (with an average pH level of 4.7)1 and many facial cleansers can be more alkaline. In other words, if you choose to use toner, it will help replenish your skin after cleansing, prepare your skin for the rest of your routine, and support healthy and balanced pH levels.

  • Toners containing drying ingredients, like astringent alcohols, can strip away moisture from your skin, potentially leading to dryness, redness, or irritation. For this reason, CeraVe recommends opting for a gentle, hydrating toner instead that is non-astringent, fragrance-free, and formulated without alcohol to leave the skin feeling comfortable, soft, and clean.

  • Dermatologists are medical professionals who specialize in helping their patients maintain optimal skin health. For this reason, it’s useful to seek out toners and other products that have been formulated with dermatologists—such as CeraVe. All CeraVe formulas are developed with dermatologists to be fragrance-free and non-irritating, with products for your sensitive, oily, acne-prone, combination, or normal skin. If you have specific questions about your skin and the use of facial toners, visit your dermatologist’s office for the best advice.

New CeraVe Hydrating Toner

CeraVe’s new hydrating toner is a lightweight, leave-on toning formula that leaves your skin feeling smooth and refined, while also locking in moisture for refreshed and healthy-looking skin. “The CeraVe Hydrating Toner is a natural evolution of the CeraVe line to support the skin barrier after cleansing, using hyaluronic acid, while niacinamide calms the skin,” says Dr. Portela.


This alcohol-free, astringent-free, and fragrance-free toner is pH-balanced and instantly removes leftover residue without disrupting the skin’s natural barrier. This is because, like all CeraVe products, this toner contains three essential ceramides (1, 3, and 6-II). It’s also formulated with ingredient that help your skin retain its natural moisture.


CeraVe Hydrating Toner was developed with dermatologists as an excellent non-greasy toning option that leaves skin feeling clean, balanced, and fresh after use. “I love the fast-absorbing, non-greasy finish, making it easy to incorporate into your skincare routine,” says Dr. Portela. It’s also oil-free and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. Suitable for all skin types, Dr. Portela advises that, “those with dry skin will especially benefit, but even those with oily skin can benefit from this lightweight formula.”


How To Use CeraVe Hydrating Toner in Your Routine

To begin, start by first cleansing your face thoroughly (and removing any makeup) using a gentle face wash, such as CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser. Next, it’s time to grab your toner. “Toner may be applied using a cotton ball or pad, or it can be patted into the skin directly with clean hands,” says Dr. Portela. Apply CeraVe Hydrating Toner by gently wiping over your skin until it feels completely free of dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities. Apply this toner after cleansing both in the morning and at night, or as directed by your dermatologist.


“This toner features a leave-on formula, so it can be left on the skin after application,” says Dr. Portela. Once you’ve finished applying your CeraVe Hydrating Toner, continue with the rest of your CeraVe skincare routine. For example, this can include a non-comedogenic facial moisturizer with sunscreen as part of your morning routine, and a lightweight, hydrating night cream before bed. In addition, you can also apply any targeted treatments—such as CeraVe Eye Repair Cream—to target dark circles and puffiness, or CeraVe Acne Control Gel to help prevent new acne blemishes.


Explore more CeraVe products to help keep your skin looking and feeling its best with our guide on selecting the best cleanser for sensitive skin.

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