8 Facial Toners That Actually Do Something

Like a celebrity child burdened at birth with a name like Audio Science or Dweezil, toner was at an unfair disadvantage from the start. Cleansers cleanse and moisturizers moisturize, but what is the actual function of a toner aside from just being a pretty, expensive water that smells like rose petals or makes your face tingle or some other pleasant but ultimately superfluous thing?

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with skin care that’s pleasant but superfluous; in fact, you might argue that many of the best things in life fall under this umbrella. (Nobody needs to drink brut rosé in the sunshine, we just like to.)


But toner does serve a very real purpose in your regimen, regulating pH levels that have been knocked off-kilter by certain chlorines or minerals in tap water, replenishing lost moisture, and otherwise providing all sorts of benefits in a lightweight liquid formula — so there's never a bad time to get on board with skin care's most underrated essential. If your only previous experience with toner is a brief but painful fling with highly-astringent Sea Breeze as an adolescent, well, you're in for a treat.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner

CoQ-10: sounds like a distant relative of R2-D2, is actually the abbreviated name for a potent antioxidant known for its remarkable ability to fade fine lines and discoloration while neutralizing free radicals. This toner has the stuff in spades, plus hydrating anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe, chamomile, hyaluronic acid, and cucumber for softer, brighter skin.
Indie Lee COQ-10 Toner$34.00 Buy

Circcell Dew Hydrating pH Perfector

It's not a toner — it's a hydrating pH perfector. And a toner. You won't want to waste a single drop of this aloe vera-based solution, so skip the cotton balls and splash a few drops into the palm of your hand, then press it into your skin and let the potent blend of witch hazel, lactic acid, and sodium hyaluronate do the texture-smoothing, gently-exfoliating work.
Circcell Dew Hydrating pH Perfector$60.00 Buy

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner

Glycerin, squalane, honey, colloidal oatmeal, propolis: The first few ingredients listed on the back of this bottle read like a recipe for an ultra-soothing moisturizer, not a weightless swipe-and-go solution that acts as a salve for dryness and redness in addition to plumping, balancing, and prepping skin for the rest of your routine post-cleanse.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner$22.00 Buy

Bioderma Sensibio Tonic Lotion

This straightforward toner won't shrink your pores, brighten your dark spots, clear your acne, pay your taxes, or make you age backwards. But just as the label promises (in two languages, no less), it will soothe and moisturize all skin types — including the most sensitive — immediately on contact, cooling and restoring skin to a happy, healthy baseline.
Bioderma Sensibio Tonic Lotion$16.89 Buy

COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner

"Clarifying" is not just another word for stripping, at least not when it comes to this gentle exfoliating formula. The multitasking AHA/BHA duo of willow-bark extract and apple water is offset by allantoin and panthenol, which nourish and balance the skin as they clear blemishes and sweep away dulling dead skin cells.
CosRx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner$17.00 Buy

Thayers Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Toner

From the soothing aloe and authentic rose scent to the apothecary-style label with an old man on it, this toner looks, smells, and feels like something a 19th-century noblewoman might enjoy in lieu of a real bath, only it's $6.99 at Target.
Thayers Thayers Witch Hazel Alcohol Free Toner $9.28 Buy

The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner

If you can handle a splash of apple-cider vinegar in your water every morning, you can definitely handle the telltale fermented scent of this probiotic-rich toner. Fret not: Your face won't smell like the Mother for long, but with regular use you'll see a noticeable difference in clarity and hydration levels, thanks to a whole-food blend of natural and organic grains, grasses, algaes, seeds, and legumes.
The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner$75.00 Buy

Context Hydrating Toner

For some people, the minimalist, sans-serif branding will be reason enough to add this replenishing toner to their routine. For others, it's still what's inside that counts — which would be a gentle yet effective combination of witch hazel, vitamin C, Japanese knotweed, and green tea and algae extracts. Everybody wins.
Context Hydrating Toner$35.00 Buy
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