If you grew up in the West, you are probably familiar with toners in terms of it's "toning" purposes. It was designed to help tone your skin after a higher acid cleanse. In other words - lower the pH level of your skin back to normal. This is typical within Western facial cleansing products. However, when it comes to Korean toners, it extends the purpose of toning to a whole different level.
So why is it so different compared to Western toners? Besides rebalancing the pH level, many of the Korean toners are designed to hydrate and protect your skin after cleansing, while preparing your skin for the next steps in your routine. Not only does this step hydrate your skin, but different toners serve different purposes.
For instance, there are toners designed to exfoliate dead skin cells, melt away unwanted blackhead or whitehead, as well as controlling sebum which may cause more acne on your skin. As your skin is considered to be most "clean" after double cleansing, products can penetrate into your skin much more effectively during the toning stage. This means toners with different purposes are likely to work best at treating those specific skin concerns.
Are there any specific ways to apply toner? You can simply put an adequate amount on your hands and gently pat onto your skin until fully absorbed. For those with oily / combination skin types, you could take that extra step by applying with a cotton pad. This will help remove any remaining oil or impurities from your cleanse, while mildly exfoliating your skin.
To stay up to date with the current K-beauty trend, there is also the latest "7 skin method" that's been highly raved about in recent months. You might have noticed the term "skin" has been used to replace the term "toner" in some products. In Korean, these two words actually have the same meaning. What this concept introduces is layering a very hydrating / thin toner 7 times after your cleanse. Make sure the toner you are using is very thin and not alcohol based due to the increasing chance of drying out your skin. Try it with your favorite toner and you might just see a difference on how much more hydration you can bring to your skin.
So what do you do after 7 layers of toner? If you feel that your skin is hydrated enough, you can go straight to a moisturizer to "seal" in the toner. You can definitely give this method a try if you're looking for more hydration or have super dry skin. As with all routines and products, be sure to start off slow, experiment, and see what works best for your skin.
If you are looking for a new toner, below are our carefully selected winners!