Less flashy than face masks and less quotidian than moisturizers, toners nevertheless make a notable difference in how well your skin-care regime performs. The best toners for men (or for just about anyone) restore skin to its optimal pH level after cleansing, which encourages any subsequent
skin-care products you apply (like your serum, moisturizer, and SPF) to penetrate more efficiently. In the process, they offer targeted benefits depending on your skin type and goals, whether that's balancing oil production, hydrating dry skin, tempering inflammation, or clarifying breakouts.
Once oft-maligned for stripping the skin, the new guard of toners — even those geared toward oily or acne-prone skin — contain plenty of lightweight, oil-free hydrators, like aloe and hyaluronic acid. Importantly, too, they're all free of astringents and harsh alcohols (like alcohol denat) often found in old-school toners that can
worsen dryness, aggravate sensitive skin, and throw oily skin out of whack. Rather, they deploy botanicals like witch hazel and peppermint — and even gentle concentrations of chemical exfoliants, like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) — to do the "toning" work of firming the skin and minimizing the appearance of enlarged pores. Though, if it's a moisturizing or calming toner you're after, oxymoronic as that may sound, look for a toning lotion that, as you've likely deduced from the name, doubles down on the softening, moisturizing, and barrier-building effects. The appetizer to your moisturizer's main course, if you will.
With that in mind, read on to shop seven of the best toners on Amazon.
01 The classic one
If in doubt, opt for the classic
Thayers toner. It's a foolproof option for all skin types — there's glycerin for moisture, organic witch hazel to balance excess oil, and aloe to soothe and hydrate, while rose petal, a natural antimicrobial and antibacterial agent, clarifies the skin and restores its pH balance. The $8 price tag is another major selling point, as are the 54,000-plus five-star ratings on Amazon. Reviewers raved about the stuff for "transforming" all skin types and concerns, including minimizing cystic acne breakouts and calming burns and rashes. One reviewer wrote: "I absolutely love this product.[...] I have enlarged pores, adult acne, dry cheeks, oily T zone, and uneven skin. My skin [is] also extremely sensitive to any products. I have been using this product daily [...] and it has alleviated or improved all my skin problems. It doesn’t dry out my skin. I have not had one single pimple since using this product. My pores look smaller. It’s very gentle on my skin. It doesn’t burn at all. It smells very nice. I just purchased my second bottle and this is definitely something I will continue to purchase." 02 The one for oily skin
As far as functionality goes, this
Brickell toner is about as classic as it gets. A few spritzes helps reduce shine, clarify your pores of acne- and blackhead-inducing bacteria, and give your complexion a firmer, tightened appearance overall. The alcohol-free, all-natural formula contains witch hazel (a natural astringent), hydrating cucumber, and zingy peppermint. Keep this invigorating mist at your desk for mid-day wake-up calls, or in your gym bag to cool and cleanse your skin after a workout. One reviewer wrote: "I stumbled onto Brickell while doing research on ways to combat oily skin. Not trying to stereotype myself, but I had never heard of a toner before. After reading about the benefits (great for oily skin, helps shrink pores, etc.), it sounded like it was exactly what I was looking for, so I decided to give it a try. After using it for about 2 weeks, my skin looks a million times better than ever before. I have struggled with blackheads on my nose since I was about 15, and now, for the first time in about 20 years, they are nearly all gone! [...] Like I said, this is the first toner I have ever used, and now it has become part of my daily routine, and I look forward to the refreshing cucumber mint scent in the morning." 03 The one for dry skin
Klairs toner can more accurately be categorized as a toning lotion: It helps balance your skin's pH level (the toner aspect), but it's enriched with moisturizing ingredients and boasts a more viscous consistency than usual (the lotion aspect). The formula contains some of the skin-care world's heaviest hitters — like a blend of proteins to strengthen the skin barrier, betaine to improve moisture retention, and centella asiatica to temper inflammation — as well as more common hydrators, like hyaluronic acid and aloe. It'll leave your skin feeling comfortable, replenished, and super-soft to the touch. Depending on how dry your skin is, you may not even feel like you need to follow it up with a moisturizer. One reviewer wrote: "I have sensitive normal to dry skin that gets red spots after washing and has hyperpigmentation, and this leaves my skin soothed, incredibly even in tone, soft and absorbent so the rest of my products sink in. I have seen my hyperpigmentation reduce since using this. Plus, it smells LOVELY, like gentle lavender soap." 04 The one for breakouts
If you're contending with an active breakout, this treatment-style
COSRX toner is a great option for you. The water-light, vegan formula contains AHAs, BHAs, and glycolic acid — the three major chemical exfoliants found in effective acne treatments — though allantoin, panthenol, and mineral water offer crucial moisturizing and soothing benefits. It's all delivered via a lightweight mist that feels super refreshing. It works equally well on breakouts below the neck, too; and thanks to that spray format, you can target hard-to-reach spots, like your back, without too much awkward contorting. One reviewer wrote: "I bought this to use as a treatment, not a nightly toner. Love that it has both AHA (sloughs off dead surface skin) and BHA (cleans into pores and removes gunk). [...] Instant smoothness! [...] I am now using it on the KP on my arms, even. Semi successful. Either way it's an amazing exfoliator. It's watery so you can completely control how much you need, which is helpful to sensitive skin." 05 The one for dull skin
If you're hoping to lighten unwanted dark spots or scarring, or if you're after a more awake-looking complexion overall (after a late night working or drinking, perhaps), this
toner makes for an excellent addition to your skin-care routine. It's packed with vitamin C and zingy citrus oils that help even out your skin tone, while aloe, panthenol, and glycerin quench dry skin, making it look dewier as a result. Pair it with the brand's cult-favorite Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask for a more intensive brightening treatment. Heads up: Don’t be alarmed to see phenethyl alcohol in the ingredients list. It’s a naturally occurring compound that’s added mostly for its rose-like scent, and isn’t known to be drying or otherwise harmful to your skin. One reviewer wrote: "This is a nice simple toner with a mild moisturizing and slight astringent benefit that I use after cleansing my skin. The vitamin C works for brightening for post-acne hyperpigmentation and overall this seems to make my skin look better. I've stopped using it and noticed my skin doesn't quite look as bright, and resumed usage and noticed improvement. It doesn't irritate my sensitive skin, and works great as a skin refreshing spray." 06 The one for red or irritated skin
toner from Paula's Choice acts as a salve for skin that's inflamed or otherwise distressed, whether chronically (if you have rosacea, for example) or circumstantially (e.g. if you're sunburned, or sensitized by harsh products like exfoliants or retinol). In here, niacinamide counteracts redness and strengthens the skin barrier, while evening primrose oil, borage seed oil, and allantoin take the edge off aggravated skin and infuse it with long-lasting moisture. Like the Klairs toner, this has a milky consistency that's more akin to a lotion than traditional toners, so your skin will feel instantly nourished and soothed. One reviewer wrote: "Definitely will be buying more. The area around my nostrils and around my lips tend to be extremely dry and it looked like two shades darker than the rest of my face. After using this product repeatedly I saw my skin getting better. There is no nasty smell, and the product does not sting or burn whatsoever. I use this with a cotton ball and rub it all over my face. So far so good." 07 The certified-organic one
This toner from under-the-radar Korean brand
Olivarrier contains 100% natural ingredients, 22% of which are certified organic by COSMOS. This is another toner of the "lotion" ilk that's geared toward dry skin, but because it's non-greasy, it can also work as a lightweight hydrator for oily skin. It's made with organic glycerin, Korea-grown organic green tea leaf extract, organic cica, and three types of hyaluronic acid, among other soothing and hydrating ingredients. The formula has an ideal pH level of 5.5, a close match to the skin's natural pH level, so it'll restore your skin to its peak performance — meaning, among other functions, an improved ability to retain moisture, so your skin will feel more hydrated both instantly and over time. One reviewer wrote: "i use this as a toner, or sometimes, toner and moisturizer for the day. there's a slight tackiness when you pat it into the skin. it goes away though if you apply sunscreen! [...] my skin tone became more even [...] i have oily skin, so i always try to look for lightweight moisturizers. this really fits the bill, and the price isn't bad ~~ one bottle i think lasted me 3 months? and i used it 2x a day. overall, i am a really huge fan." Studies referenced: Zhang, W., Abdel-Rahman, F.H., Saleh, M.A. (2011). Natural resistance of rose petals to microbial attack. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21614712/