Mystery solved: The purpose of Toner

Posted by: Emily

I know I’m a product junkie, so saying this may sound incongruous to you, but I’ve never really understood toner. It just always seemed to me like an extra step. What was the point? You clean your face, and then you put moisturizer on it, right? So what could it possibly need in between those two steps, I wondered. I just didn’t get it.


I didn’t get it, but I sure tried it. Like most girls my generation, I went through a Sea Breeze phase. Sea Breeze was introduced to me by some family friends, two older, cooler, gorgeous Texan sisters I saw every summer, and they had perfect skin and shiny hair and were each over 6 feet tall, so you can only imagine what I thought Sea Breeze was going to do for me! It stung like crazy on my face and I still broke out, but I used it religiously for a while, in hopes of becoming a Texan supermodel. No luck.


Then, also like many women who grew up when I did, I used Proactive for a few years. The three step system included toner, as I am sure you all know. So I used it for a while. Went through a lot of cotton pads. Bleached a lot of pillowcases and towels. Proactive didn’t solve my acne problems. Late in my teens, I discovered the birth control pill and THAT solved my acne problems! I went on to have a decade of flawless skin! Sigh. Good times.
Anyway, through it all, I was never convinced that toner was really necessary. And even though there are some toners that smell nice and come in pretty bottles, it never seemed like a necessity to me.  However, a few months ago, I met a woman who finally made me understand the value of toner! Her name is Deanna Elstrom and she is the Vice President  of Melvita USA. Jordan and I met her at an event introducing Melvita products to the press, and yes, we were psyched to be included as members of the press!

Deanna explained, and bear with me, as I am just retelling this from memory and I don’t recall the concrete examples, that the water you use to wash your face may leave deposits on your skin.  So, let’s say your water leaves calcium deposits. Those, in turn, make it harder for the skin on your face to absorb the moisturizer you’re about to put on it. Toner acts as a neutralizer for your face, preparing it to absorb the good stuff in your moisturizer after cleaning. (Deanna, if you’re reading this and want to write in a better way to explain it, we’d love to hear it, since I can only hope I’m remembering it correctly!)

Well, that actually sounds like something I can get behind! And the toners from Melvita do not sting and dry out my face like Sea Breeze. (I have a feeling that Sea Breeze had different goals than just preparing my face for moisturizer, but it’s time to let that go.)

I started using some Melvita products for cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, and found the whole process to be lovely and effective. The line I chose is their “Young Skin” line, and while I think the name for this line is a little funny, I see what they’re getting at. At 30, my skin is not particularly young, but it is sure acting teenaged with all the breakouts and pimples. So, I embraced the naming, and started with the Foaming Gel. It lives up to its name– it gets really foamy, which I love, because I’ve found some other natural cleansers don’t foam up as much as I’d like. It contains ingredients I’m familiar with, like Tea Tree and Witch Hazel, known for being good for problem skin.

The next step is the aforementioned Toner, the Skin Tonic, or in French, Lotion Tonique. It’s nothing like Sea Breeze– as the French  name suggests, it feels more like a lotion. It’s very light and smooth, doesn’t sting a bit, and you just wipe it on your face with a cotton pad and it absorbs almost immediately. As promised, after that, I feel prepared to moisturize.

I then use one of 2 Melvita moisturizers, depending on the time of day. In the morning, I prefer the lighter Perfecting Cream, which has AHAs for skin renewal, and at night, I use a moisturizer from the Apicosma Collection, Revitalizing Cream for sensitive skin. I just like a little more moisturization while I’m sleeping.

And when I have a particularly bad pimple, I dab it with the Anti-Blemish Roll-On, also from the Young Skin line. It contains Tea Tree Oil and Lavender, which help purify and heal.

The best thing about ALL these products, being from Melvita, is their Natural ingredients, Eco Cert status, and overall wonderful philosophy. Read more about Melvita here, if you haven’t already.

Deanna, thanks for solving my life-long confusion about the purpose of toner! And for introducing me to Melvita…

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4 Comments

Filed under Cleansers, Moisturizers, Product Reviews, Toner

4 responses to “Mystery solved: The purpose of Toner

  1. actorsdiet

    very interesting! i always wondered about the purpose of toner – i did skip it in college and those were my worst skin years. i went back during my proactiv phase and haven’t let go of it since!!!

  2. Another of the reasons for using toner, according to my skin-care specialist, is to help rebalance the pH of one’s skin after using cleanser. Most cleansers are alkaline, so using toner helps remove any residue that may be left and brings the pH back to the 4.5-5.5 range that skin should be in.

  3. Great article! Toner is also great to use at the end of the day to get off the last remnants of your makeup.

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