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A skincare routine is an essential step to maintaining a healthy and happy face, no matter the type of skin you have.
Most of the time, when speaking about skincare, we think of two important products:
1) A cleanser to remove excess dirt.
2) A moisturizer to replenish the skin with nutrients and hydration after cleansing.
What most people seem to forget, or not even realize, is that there is an equally important product that should be used in between the two mentioned above – a toner.
Studies have shown that a 3 step skincare routine can dramatically improve the quality of your skin and help fight acne.
Why is a toner important? And how to choose the correct one for your skin type? These are the questions we will be tackling in this article to help you treat your skin in the best possible way.In a hurry? Here are our top picks:
Its organic plant-based formulation gives the face the thorough toning that’s needed without altering the pH of the skin. On top of that, this toner promotes skin healing and tightening of pores, making it an excellent product for those seeking to reduce sebum production and overall appearance of acne. ZELEN Life is a venture that I am partly involved in. You can read more about it in the product overview below.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of our best 5 toners for men with all skin types.
You’ll learn why a toner is a worthy addition to your daily grooming routine, how to use it, the different kinds of toners available on the market, and what separates the best from the rest with our product reviews.
Let’s start with a list of things to keep in mind when purchasing a skin toner for men.
|Baxter Of California Herbal Mint Toner||Check on Amazon|
|ZELEN Life Toner||Check It Out|
|Lavo Glycolic Acid Toner||Check on Amazon|
|Brickell Balancing Toner For Men||Check on Amazon|
|TreeActiv Balancing Herbal Toner||Check on Amazon|
Before you buy: 4 Things to consider when purchasing a toner
Knowing what to look for when buying toner for men is important for many obvious reasons, including that it’s different from facial cleanser or face wash (which both may contain oils). Keep the following factors in mind when purchasing toner:
Ingredients and skin type – another important factor which we’ll discuss next – are crucial for choosing the best toner for men. In general, you’ll find the following ingredients in many toners, although not all of the ingredients listed are found in every one.
If you ask any dermatologist, they will tell you that alcohol should not be directly applied to your face. While it does indeed clear away dead skin cells that can clog pores, it also deeply deprives your skin of the natural oils and can be very irritating.
Studies have shown that alcohol applied to the face can seriously disrupt the skin microbiome and actually cause more breakouts and problematic skin. These irritating types will typically be called SD alcohol, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol.
So be sure to avoid products with these added ingredients, especially if you are prone to sensitive skin. These can even be carcinogenic to the skin.
However, it is useful to know that there are more “healthy” types of alcohols called fatty alcohols. These can help safely rid your skin from excess oils and can balance your skin tone.
It is important to remember that alcohol is often harsh on the skin, and men with sensitive skin are wise to avoid toners that contain it.
Salicylic acid is a type of beta-hydroxy acid. It’s an excellent chemical exfoliant that gently removes the dead cells on the skin’s surface by breaking the bonds between them.
It’s an agent that could be useful for all skin types, so you may want to buy a toner that includes salicylic acid.
Witch hazel is a plant extract that serves as an anti-inflammatory agent. It’s extremely useful in treating acne borne redness and helps soothe skin. You can use witch hazel as an alternative to alcohol and other pore-cleansing ingredients while placing less stress on the skin.
Although you should be careful and check what your witch hazel was extracted in. Some formulations use denatured alcohol for their preparation, which could potentially irritate your skin.
It’s always beneficial when a toner contains a healthy dose of antioxidants. For one, they help restore the health and vitality of skin cells.
Ingredients such as aloe vera and hyaluronic acid help skin retain moisture while preventing it from leaving the skin during the application of toner. Maintaining the proper level of hydration is vital for the overall health and appearance of your skin.
Many toners also include chamomile and other natural ingredients that help soothe the skin. If you have sensitive skin, make sure that the toner you choose has skin-soothing ingredients.
Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that acts as a chemical exfoliant and helps to provide deep cleansing of your skin pores.
Cucumber extract contains vitamin K, which helps balance your skin’s pH level, improves skin elasticity, and soothes irritated skin. You’ll appreciate the cooling, refreshing effect of toners that include cucumber extract.
Peppermint oil helps to reduce inflammation (and the redness that comes with it) as well as relieving itchiness. It’s also an antibacterial agent, which helps reduce the development of acne.
2. Skin type
Skin type is an important factor to consider when buying toner for many reasons. If you choose a toner that isn’t ideal for your skin type, you risk irritation and even skin damage if you use it too long.
You’re not alone if you have sensitive skin, and you generally face more challenges regarding skincare than men with other skin types.
Sensitive skin entails a layer of the epidermis that is generally more reactive to the outside world and substances you use topically. With sensitive skin, it is always a good idea to look for organic and natural ingredients, preferably without any drying effect.
Currently, there are plenty of toners on the market specifically designed for sensitive skin, from which you can choose.
Your first consideration when choosing a toner for sensitive skin is whether it contains alcohol.
As mentioned, alcohol is harsher on the skin than other ingredients and can cause the skin to dry out more quickly. If your skin is sensitive, look for toners that don’t include alcohol. Toners with added aloe vera are always a good option for men with sensitive skin.
Dry skin is often the sign of a dehydrated epidermis and is part of the aging process. Look for a toner that includes a good moisturizer that not only helps clean skin pores but won’t dry them out.
Particularly, you can look for toners with essential oils or hyaluronic acid that helps retain the moisture in your skin.
For oily skin, you should look for toners that shrink and tighten the pores. This will help control the excess sebum production in the epidermis. Be careful not to overuse toners with alcohol in them.
Although alcohol may seem like the most effective, it can be extremely drying. And on the contrary, make your skin cells produce an excess of oils after treatment.
When dealing with oily skin, you probably already use an efficient cleanser that removes excess dirt and oils. These cleansers can sometimes leave the pH of the skin more alkaline, so be sure to look for a toner that helps restore the pH balance of the skin towards a more acidic 5.5.
You may want to search for toners that contain salicylic acid or other alpha and beta hydroxy acids. These would help chemically exfoliate the pores and remove all excess dirt and prepare the skin for the next step in your routine.
Men with combination skin may have dry areas on some parts of their face and oily on others, such as the “T-zone” – the nose, forehead, and chin. You may also have pores that look larger than normal, blackheads, or shiny skin.
You can try using a toner designed for oily skin, without the addition of any alcohols. This will make sure that all the regions of your skin are nourished and not overdried.
Consider your reasons for using a toner before purchasing one. Will you use it to reduce the excessive “shine” that comes with oily skin? Are you looking to reduce inflammation and redness while exfoliating and unclogging skin pores?
Will you use it to enhance the benefits and results of other serums and moisturizers you may use?
Some toners have a distinctive scent, and their fragrances can vary widely from one product to another. Toners for men tend to have fresh or masculine scents or citrus-based scents that are refreshing.
Although some fragrances may be a nice addition to a skincare routine, make sure to avoid any artificially added parfums. These can be irritating to the skin. Instead, look into the ingredients and make sure that the fragrances of the toner, if needed, come from natural sources like peppermint, menthol, botanicals, etc.
If you use a toner daily, fragrance may become more important. Most men prefer scents that are subtle and not overpowering.
Now, let’s move on to our reviews of the best toners for men.
The 5 best toners for men in 2020
- Gentle astringent
- Good for oily or sensitive skin
- Natural ingredients
Best toner for:
Men looking for a mild astringent.
Like Brickell, Baxter of California is a company that caters to men’s grooming needs and has a slew of products – like its Herbal Mint Toner – that help men look and feel their best.
You’ll find the Herbal Mint Toner in a lot of best-of reviews, and with good reason.
It’s a gentle astringent – the best astringent toner, in fact – that includes cucumber extract and a host of antioxidants which cleanse, tone, and remove impurities from the skin that keep it from looking its best.
And there’s more to it, including herbal extracts and vitamin E that protect skin against free radical and cell damage while helping your face looking refreshed and feeling clean.
It’s also free of alcohol, which most skincare experts will tell you is a good thing and serves as an excellent primer before applying a daily moisturizer.
Cucumber extract is a popular ingredient found in toners these days and has, as mentioned, many skin-healthy properties, including that it cools the skin.
It also includes peppermint oil, which helps refresh the skin; the cucumber extract works to counteract the tingling sensation you may get with peppermint oil.
Another proven ingredient is witch hazel, a natural astringent.
- It cleans and purifies skin without drying it out
- It has a masculine scent that’s noticeable but not overpowering
- Removes excess oil while serving as an excellent primer for your favorite moisturizer
- Some users say the texture is a bit sticky
Baxter of California has another excellent product to offer with its Herbal Mint Toner. It does everything you need a good toner to do and works for men of all skin types.
- Organic, plant-powered formulation
- Promotes skin healing and skin cell development
- Suitable for all skin types
Best toner for:
All skin types. The unique natural formulation of this particular toner allows it to be used by all skin types. The toner is alcohol-free, meaning that it can be safe for sensitive skin, contains added ingredients that promote moisturizing for dry skin.
The all-natural formulation in this particular toner really makes it stand out from the rest. It’s a magical combination of geranium and lavender essential oils that are effective in fighting inflammation and bacteria.
These wonder oils also help speed up the skin’s healing process and allow for the reduction of scars and dark spots.
This toner is also free from alcohol, parabens, sulfates, silicones, and petrochemicals. The safe plant-based formula helps balance the skin’s pH after cleansing and prepares it for serums and nutrients.
The lavender essential oil helps manage any inflammation that may arise from excessive or harsh cleansing of the face. Its anti-inflammatory properties help soothe the skin and leave it fresh and calm.
The mixture of botanical oils in the toner leaves your face smelling incredibly fragrant, like a luxurious spa treatment. Apart from the lavender and geranium, the toner also contains notes of honey and lemon.
Honey also has an added function of fighting off microbes and promoting wound healing.
ZELEN Life is a brand I am partly involved in, with someone who is no stranger to skincare issues, Jordan Sully. A completely natural and organic, Mediterranean-inspired skincare range.
- Affordable price
- Smells great
- Suitable for dry and sensitive skin
- Contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties
- A floral aroma due to the plant-based formula
This toner is a great affordable option for men with dry and/or sensitive skin. It’s packed with natural ingredients that would do no harm to your skin and would help balance the pH level.
- Fights acne
- Reduces inflammation
- Normalizes skin’s pH levels
Best toner for:
Men with acne.
Skin type is important for choosing the right toner for you, as we discussed earlier. If you have oily skin, then Lavo’s Glycolic Acid Toner should be at the top of your shopping list.
A key ingredient in Lavo’s toner – as the name suggests – is glycolic acid. The Lavo mix includes 10% glycolic acid, which exfoliates dead skin cells, reduces sun damage, and helps clear clogged pores.
The exfoliation aspect of glycolic acid is important: it loosens the bonds between the cells of the epidermis and removes dead skin cells that reside on the top layer of skin, which, in turn, reveals the living cells beneath the surface and encourages new cell growth.
But glycolic acid also helps the skin maintain the proper pH balance. That’s a crucial function for men with acne-prone skin that may become dry and prompt the body to overproduce oil to compensate.
Oily skin may become a breeding ground for acne breakouts. Moreover, glycolic acid counters the dryness that can come from acne treatments that include salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
Lavo’s Glycolic Acid Toner helps to normalize pH levels while fighting acne-causing bacteria, which form when pH levels get too high.
The Lavo toner’s ingredients list includes aloe vera and calendula extract that soothe skin irritation while leaving it with a cool, refreshed feeling and also helps it stay hydrated properly.
Another interesting yet effective ingredient is lemon juice. Rich in vitamin C, lemon juice helps fight acne bacteria while also making skin appear brighter and less dull and lifeless.
It also contains lactic acid, which stimulates the growth of new skin cells.
Another of the Lavo toner’s many attributes is that it prepares the skin for serums and creams you may apply afterward. It will help the skin to absorb moisturizers more effectively and allow them to penetrate more deeply into the skin.
Lavo recommends that you apply their product with your hands or, better yet, with a cotton pad and then follow up with a moisturizer of your choice. You can apply it several times a day if you so choose, although many men don’t need frequent applications.
More good news: Lavo’s products are paraben- and cruelty-free and made in an FDA-registered facility (in the USA). Moreover, the Glycolic Acid Toner comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee that offers a full refund to anyone who isn’t satisfied with it.
- Contains glycolic acid, which helps the skin maintain its natural pH balance while fighting acne-causing bacteria
- It helps prepare your skin for serums and creams that provide necessary hydration
- It works well for removing leftover cleansers, excess oil, and makeup
- Doesn’t work as well for men with dry skin
Lavo’s Glycolic Acid Toner is ideal for men with skin that’s prone to acne breakouts but also has many other skin-friendly benefits. It helps to balance skin naturally while providing an excellent foundation for other serums and creams.
- All-natural ingredients
- Good for most skin types
- Gently hydrates skin cells
Best toner for:
Men with combination skin.
Brickell has a strong reputation for creating men’s grooming products with all-natural ingredients, which many, many customers appreciate. They also make highly effective products, such as their Balancing Toner for men, which serves many needs.
First and foremost, the Brickell toner provides a similar function as other toners in that it removes excess oil, unclogs pores, and clears the skin of bacteria and other impurities. Still, you can also use it as a mid-day refresher if your skin looks or feels dry.
It’s also among the best toners for combination skin because it works on most, if not all, skin types (even on that T-zone, which can get oilier than the rest of your skin).
What’s in it? Well, it includes cucumber distillate that soothes irritated skin and minimizes pores, and peppermint, which also soothes the skin and provides anti-septic properties.
There’s also aloe vera, which gently hydrates cells without adding extra moisture, and witch hazel, a natural astringent that helps prevent excess oil build-up and reduces inflammation.
What you won’t find in the Brickell’s Balancing Toner are petrochemicals, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and a variety of other chemicals that are bad for the skin.
Although it doesn’t contain alcohol, this toner still manages to thoroughly cleanse your skin’s pores while exfoliating it to balance pH effectively.
The team at Brickell recommends that you use their toner in the morning after washing your face but before you apply a face moisturizer. You can spray it onto a cotton ball or directly on clean skin.
- It contains natural ingredients, including cucumber extract and aloe vera, which help soothe and gently hydrate skin
- Removes oil and unclogs pores while getting rid of impurities
- It’s good for people with sensitive skin because of its soothing, hydrating qualities
- Some users say the toner’s minty fragrance is too strong
It’s hard to find a better all-around toner than Brickell’s Balancing Toner for Men. Made with natural ingredients; it works well for men of every skin type.
- Balances the skin’s pH
- Powerful but gentle formula
- Helps firm up skin
Best toner for:
Those with oily skin.
It’s hard to beat products that use powerful natural ingredients while delivering second-to-none results. TreeActiv’s Balancing Herbal Toner is one such product and an excellent choice for men with oily skin.
Moreover, if you’re searching for the best non-alcohol-based toner, you need to take a good look at this product. It includes tea tree water, which is a gentler version of tea tree oil and serves as an antibacterial, antifungal, toner, moisturizer, and astringent.
It also helps heal acne while preventing future breakouts.
Tea tree water also works effectively on sensitive skin while clearing pores and removing excess oil.
Other key natural ingredients included in the TreeActiv formula are rose water and clary sage. Rose water is an anti-inflammatory that helps reduce breakouts and other skin irritations, and it’s rich in antioxidants – including vitamins A and C.
It serves many other skin-healthy functions, as well, including that it clears pores of toxins and loosens dead skin cells to make it easier to wash them away.
Clary sage, extracted from the clary sage herb through steam distillation, includes natural organic compounds, such a linalyl acetate, which has antimicrobial effects while killing bacteria on the skin.
The TreeActive Balancing Herbal Toner also includes witch hazel, a strong but gentle astringent that helps reduce acne while easing inflammation. It also helps to balance the skin’s natural pH level.
Sulfur is another interesting ingredient, and it works to remove blackheads, whiteheads, and other acne irritations naturally while helping to unclog pores.
TreeActiv’s Balancing Herbal Toner comes in a spray form and is usable in many ways. You can spray it directly onto troubled areas of the skin or spray it onto a cotton ball and apply it that way. It certainly ranks highly in the best spray toner category.
Use it after you wash your face and before adding other moisturizers and serums, and you can use it throughout the day if your skin starts to feel dry and dull. We’ll talk more about how to apply toner a little later.
- It’s packed with natural ingredients that help balance the skin’s pH while also reducing acne
- The toner has anti-inflammatory properties that strengthen the protective layer of your skin
- It contains tea tree water that serves many skin-beneficial functions, including that it helps heal acne and prevent future breakouts
- May dry out the skin if used excessively
TreeActiv’s excellent herbal toner has everything you need to help maintain healthy skin while also treating acne. It’s easy to apply and is loaded with natural ingredients.
How to use a toner in 5 simple steps
Using a skin toner as part of your daily skincare routine has many benefits, including that it reduces oil levels and balances pH levels and helps build a strong foundation for your serums and moisturizers while allowing them to absorb more easily into your pores.
Most men use a toner daily to minimize pores and prepare skin for serums, but how often you choose to use it depends on your skin type. You can also apply it in the morning and before you go to bed to keep your skin’s pH balance spot on.
Men with overly dry skin shouldn’t use toner excessively, even if it has moisturizing elements in its ingredients list.
If your dry skin prevents you from applying toner more than once a day, some skin experts say it’s perhaps more beneficial to use it at night only, because that allows for longer, uninterrupted healing while also helping to balance your skin’s pH level.
You can apply toner after you shave to prevent clogged pores and for treating potential ingrown hairs. Here’s a brief guide for using toner effectively.
1. Wash your face before anything else
Don’t apply toner to a dirty, sweaty, or otherwise grimy face. We recommend using a quality face wash, but even the simple cleaning many guys give their face in the shower suffices.
Ensure that you gently scrub it with warm water (don’t let the water become too hot because it may dry out your skin) while removing any noticeable dirt and grime.
Take your time; you should scrub your face with circular motions of your fingers for up to a minute.
Splash some cold water on your face once you’ve finished washing it.
2. Dry it
Use a clean, soft towel to dry off your face. Don’t scrub vigorously, but instead pat your face dry.
3. Apply toner
Once you’ve cleaned and dried your face, it’s time to apply toner. The best method is to soak a cotton pad in your toner of choice and then spread it evenly across your skin with gentle upward motions.
You can also use a cotton ball instead of a pad. One of the advantages of a cotton ball is that it becomes fully saturated with a smaller amount of liquid, which helps to conserve toner in the long run.
Make sure to keep your toner away from your eyes and lips, especially if it contains alcohol, which can be toxic to your eyes.
Don’t forget about the T-zone region of your face, which can become oilier than in other areas.
4. Leave it on
Let your face air dry after you apply toner but don’t use a towel to wipe it off. Your skin will absorb the toner’s ingredients (and benefits), especially if you’ve applied an even – not excessive – amount of it.
5. Add other products
Make sure your skin fully absorbs the toner after you’ve applied it, especially if it has moisturizing components that provide necessary hydration to dry skin. Only then should you apply other products, such as an additional moisturizer or an acne treatment.
The main reason for applying toner before you’ve used other products is that the toner will scrub away other treatments, such as those for acne, i.e., the toner will remove the acne treatment solution that embeds into your skin.
The various types of toners
A toner is a toner, right? Well, no, not really. Figuratively speaking, toners aren’t a one-size-fits-all product, and there are various types from which you can choose. Here’s a closer look:
Toners that fall into the astringent category usually contain isopropyl, more commonly known as rubbing alcohol, but not all astringents are alcohol-based and may come in botanical and other alcohol-free forms.
Astringents help cleanse the skin, tighten pores, reduce acne and inflammation, and provide anti-bacterial effects. They work best on oily, acne-prone skin because they help to remove excess oil and unclog pores.
Astringents, especially those that contain alcohol, can be very drying for the skin.
Are you hurting your skin more than helping it if you use toners that contain alcohol? Most experts seem to think so because the alcohols often used in skincare break down your skin’s protective layer, making it less able to retain moisture.
So, too much alcohol means dry skin and may lead to dryness, as well as irritation and breakouts.
Benzyl alcohol, on the other hand, is sometimes included in organic and natural skincare products to keep them safe from bacteria, but it’s generally regarded as safe for the skin if used in smaller amounts.
For most people, however, using a non-alcohol toner is a good thing. After all, a toner helps to get rid of damage on the surface of the skin; alcohol can irritate the skin further.
An alcohol-free toner also helps restore your skin’s natural pH balance, which means it’s much less likely to irritate your skin. You can also buy alcohol-free toners to help rejuvenate and energize your skin, which helps make it appear smoother.
3. Facial water/face mists
Many people use face mists to refresh their skin during the day, and some use them in place of a toner. Women often use them as a setting spray on top of their makeup.
The primary purpose of face mists is to hydrate the skin, which makes it easier for it to absorb serums and other moisturizers. They can also soothe irritated skin, much like your favorite toner.
Hydrating face mists may contain humectants (which are water-binding ingredients), including hyaluronic acid and propylene glycol.
Hyaluronic acid is produced naturally by the body and helps the skin to retain moisture, but the aging process, sun exposure, pollution, and tobacco smoke can decrease its levels in the skin. Propylene glycol is a widely-used ingredient in cosmetics and helps attract water.
Other face mists may include botanical oils, and some people use them in place of a regular moisturizer because they create a protective barrier over the skin that prevents moisture evaporation.
Botanical extracts such as rose water or lavender hydrosol that contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds may also be found in face mists.
Thermal, or facial water, works similarly to many face mists and is rich in minerals such as copper, magnesium, and selenium that help protect and soothe the skin. While they help make skin feel soft and supple, you should also follow up with a moisturizer.
You can buy astringent face mists that are much like toners and come in a spray bottle. They may include witch hazel and cucumber extract and work well for people with oily and acne-prone skin.
In any case, water-based face toners are typically free of any harmful ingredients and are suitable for your daily skincare routine.
4. Face spritzers
Whether there’s much of a difference between face spritzers and face mists may be more a matter of semantics than anything, and “spritz” may better indicate the method by which you apply toner.
However, spritzers are another way to add needed moisture to your face when its skin becomes dry. You can use them throughout the day to provide a cooling relief to your face or for when it starts to feel and look dry.
Mineral water sprays and spritzers often receive high praise for hydrating your facial skin but also for helping women set their makeup.
How we chose these products for our review
Skin toners must deliver in a variety of ways to be effective. They need to cleanse the skin, of course, but they should also help to exfoliate dead skin cells, provide hydration, help clear away impurities, and balance your skin’s natural pH level.
The toners we chose for this review had to accomplish all of those in a way that didn’t irritate the skin – a big must for men with sensitive skin – and receive the thumb’s up from customers in various reviews.
Indeed, we carefully look at the reviews of others before making our final choices.
Another goal was to review toners that cover common skin types. What’s suitable for a man with oily skin may not work effectively for someone with sensitive skin.
We also prefer products that have natural ingredients, and that includes toners. In general, your skin’s overall health is enhanced with natural ingredients; for toners, alcohol-free products are safest for your skin.
Don’t overlook toners when it comes to your daily grooming routine. As we discuss above, they have many benefits and will keep your facial skin healthy and looking its best.
Do you have a favorite skin toner? If so, which product, and why do you like it?
We’d love to hear from you and always welcome your comments.
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