Do you really need a toner? Dr Alek Nikolic from Skinmiles shares his expert advice

Do you really need a toner? Dr Alek Nikolic from Skinmiles shares his expert advice

The three basic steps of any skincare regime always included cleansing, toning and moisturising. In the past, though, toners have often received a bad reputation for drying and even sensitising the skin, which often results in many skipping this step. Today’s modern toners, however, are well researched and formulated to provide the skin with a vital step before applying serums and moisturisers, and should not be overlooked.

The basic function of a toner is to prepare the skin for the next step in the skin regime. It also helps to balance the skin’s pH levels, which can help prevent issues such as acne. Below Dr Alek Nikolic, a renowned specialist in aesthetic medicine and owner of an online skincare store, Skinmiles, shares some of the benefits that toners provide for the skin, as well as his personal toner recommendations for each skin type.

1. Toners provide an extra layer of cleansing

Even after cleansing with the best cleansers,  there will always be a small amount of makeup, dirt, impurities, dead skin cells, sebum and free radicals that have accumulated through the day left on the skin.

“Toners have the ability to clean leftover makeup and penetrate deep into pores to ensure that the skin is fully prepared for the next step in your skincare regime,” says Dr Nikolic.

2. Toners tend to add an extra layer of skin hydration

Toners can come in handy during the winter months, adding in extra needed moisture. Modern-day toners contain humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerine, ceramides and other moisturising ingredients which act to soothe, repair and hydrate the outer skin barrier.

3. Toners provide much-needed ingredients to rejuvenate the skin

Today’s toners contain ingredients that act as antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients. These help to remove and neutralise environmental free radicals enhancing the rejuvenating capability of the skin and the rest of the skincare regime. As previously mentioned, these  benefits can also include balancing the skin’s pH or acid/alkaline level.

How can you choose the best toner for your skin type?

In exactly the same fashion as developing our entire skincare regime, we should only use a toner that is specific to your skin type.

“Choosing the incorrect toner will cause unwanted skin reactions, including stripping the skin of essential nutrients, upsetting the natural pH, overly drying the skin and even increasing sebum production,” says Dr Nikolic.

Normal to combination skin

The best toners for this skin type should contain ingredients that normalise the skin’s pH and remove any excess impurities and sebum. Look out for ingredients like alphahydroxy and betahydroxy acids. They are typically found in low concentrations in toners to gently exfoliate and clean deep within pores while simultaneously limiting sensitivity reactions.

Dr Nikolic recommends:
EXUVIANCE Bionic Tonic
OBAGI C-Balancing Toner

Sensitive skin

“People who suffer from sensitive skin may believe that they should stay away from toners. However, the correct toner can be a crucial step in healing, calming and balancing the pH of the skin”, notes Dr Nikolic.

With sensitive skin, choose toners that will replenish and repair the skin barrier without stripping the skin of its vital nutrients. Ingredients to look out for include hyaluronic acid, glycerine, antioxidants, and even ceramides.

Dr Nikolic recommends:
EXUVIANCE Soothing Toning Lotion
LA ROCHE -POSAY Effaclar Micellar Water

Oily or acne-prone skin

Excess oil or sebum tends to sit deep in the pores and the correct toner will ensure that all impurities are removed, allowing serums and moisturisers to penetrate the skin. Toners for acne or oily skin should contain beta hydroxy acids and fruit-based exfoliants, such as papaya or pineapple extracts, that will provide both proteolytic and keratolytic effects on the skin.

Dr Nikolic recommends:
NEOSTRATA Oily Skin Solution
SKINCEUTICALS Blemish + Age Toner

Dry skin

Dry skin sufferers need to use toners that not only add that extra layer of cleanliness but also hydrate and repair the skin. Ingredients to look out for include hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerine, vitamin E, and even aloe vera.

Dr Nikolic recommends:
OBAGI Nu-Derm Toner
QMS Hydrating Boost Tonic Mist

The takeaway

“Using a toner specifically for your skin type is a key step that should not be overlooked. It will provide your skin with numerous benefits including hydration, balancing your skin’s pH, soothing and repairing properties, protection against environmental free radical damage, and most importantly, preparing your skin with an effective deep cleanse. I would suggest using a toner twice daily which will allow you to see the positive effects on your skin,” concludes Dr Nikolic.

Visit and sign up for a free Face2Face Assessment. You will receive personal recommendations from Dr Nikolic for your skin type or skin concern.