Korean Skincare: Step 4. Tone

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Step 4: Tone

Toning is a step in skincare that people often ignore, but it does have a purpose. A good toner will balance your pH level after you double cleanse, and clean your skin even further. You’d be surprised at the dirt that might come off, even after a double cleanse. As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of brands are getting better at making water cleansers formulated with neutral pH levels. This means that they can also focus on making toners more hydrating.

I grew up using toners that were formulated with alcohol, leaving my skin tight and stripped bare. Make sure you don’t see “alcohol” listed in the ingredients of your toner. It can spark irritation or worsen acne. Toners today serve the purpose of prepping the skin to absorb moisture and protecting the skin barrier. You might see some version of alcohol listed, but not all alcohols are created equal. There are good alcohols out there! Cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, or “fatty alcohols” can be used as emollients. These are beneficial in helping smooth and soften the skin.

Toners can be called different names as well. Some toners might be named cleansing waters, skins, or mists. They can be applied by patting into the skin, swiping across the skin with a cotton pad, or by misting and patting. There are toners with various viscosities, so I believe trial and error is the key to figuring out what works best for your skin type.

Without further ado, here are my favorite toners:

Son & Park, Beauty Water

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Photo: sokoglam.com


The Son & Park Beauty Water is a K-Beauty cult favorite. It’s the ultimate multi-tasking toner. This product works to clean, mildly exfoliate, and hydrate the skin. It contains some star ingredients like rose water, willow bark extract, papaya extract, witch hazel, tea tree extract, and various other herbal oils.

I immediately noticed a brighter, smoother complexion when I used this toner. It also helped heal and shrink breakouts. This is one of those toners that swipes away left over dirt you didn’t think was there. There is a clean, herbal scent to it that makes me look forward to doing this step. When I first purchased this toner, it was sold for around $22-$27, but it seems to only be found for $30 across the board these days. The bottle holds 11.49 oz. which is a large amount for the price. It’s definitely a go-to toner to try. You can find it a few different places like Soko Glam, Sephora, and Amazon.

Tony Moly, Wonder Rice Smoothing Toner

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This Tony Moly toner is truly Wonder-ful. It’s packed with nourishing, moisturizing ingredients like rice ferment filtrate, apple extract, sugar cane extract, and various herbal oils. The rice ferment filtrate gives it that cloudy consistency, and is a key ingredient in softening and brightening the skin.

The Wonder Rice Smoothing Toner is great for all skin types. I liked using this toner because it was super hydrating, brightened my uneven skin tone, and it lasts forever! The product definitely smells like rice, but it’s elevated and reminds me of a home-y smell if that makes sense. Between trying one or two other toners, this has lasted me over a year. While you probably shouldn’t use products older than 12 months, that’s still impressive. $23 for 17 oz. is pretty astounding. I would absolutely repurchase this.

Benton, Tea Tree Cleansing Water

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Photo: sokoglam.com


This toner has been so, so good to me. It’s made with 70% tea tree leaf water, which is perfect for those who have irritated or sensitive skin. It removes makeup, dirt, and fights acne with a low pH of 6. This toner has minimal ingredients, including tea tree leaf oil.

What I love about this product is how gentle it is. Tea tree can be a bit overwhelming for some people, but this toner barely has a scent. It leaves my skin hydrated and provides great antibacterial properties. It’s a great price, but only has 6.76 oz. I always wish there was more every time I finish it, but I’ll keep repurchasing because my skin loves it.

Thank You Farmer, Back to Iceland Cleansing Water

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I’m currently using this toner and it has been a dream. The first ingredient is Cetratia Islandica extract, which is Icelandic water. It’s infused with Iceland moss extract. I’ve found it to be extremely nourishing and moisturizing to the skin. It also has a nice cooling effect due to the witch hazel, peppermint extract, and wintergreen extract. There isn’t an overpowering minty smell. It kind of smells like ice if you know what I mean; I quite like it.

This is another toner that takes off left behind dirt. You can usually see it on the cotton pad, especially if you did a clay mask or peel prior to toning. The bottle holds 8.7 oz. which is a decent amount. It’s a little pricey, presumably because of the Icelandic water, but it’s been lasting a good while. My skin has been happy with this product, so I’m happy.

Once you reach the realization that a toner is supposed to be nourishing and gentle, there is no going back. What toner gave you that aha moment?



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