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A common debate rages in the beauty world: Do toners play a critical role in a skin care regimen or are they an unnecessary step in the cleanse-tone-moisturize process?

Dr. Howard Murad, MD, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist, backs those of us on the pro-toner side. He says toning is an essential step in any healthy skincare regimen. "I find that using a toner is just as crucial as cleansing, as it restores the skin's natural pH balance," says Murad.

But what about the growing posse of dermatologists who argue that toners are not only unnecessary, but can also be too drying? Murad says these docs aren't considering how far toners have come in recent years. Once strictly alcohol-based (and yes, therefore very drying), toners now "use ingredients that help fight aging, acne, and even redness, and they are beneficial for all skin types."

If you're looking to add a toner or astringent to your skin care routine, it's crucial to find one that'll work best with your skin type. So keep these tips in mind:

• Have oily or combination skin? Use an astringent. These work best when it comes to removing excess oil, says Dr. Nathan Newman, MD. Astringents have ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel or acids (like salicylic acid) that help reduce oil production and fight acne. Using an astringent is critical for oily skin as it helps "clean and tighten your pores, making it harder for debris and dirt to penetrate your skin and cause irritation or breakouts," says Murad.

• Have dry or sensitive skin? Use an alcohol-free toner. Those with dry skin should avoid using astringents or toners that have retinols, glycolics, or benzoyl peroxide in them. These will be "too drying and may even cause the skin to break out," says Newman. Instead, look for one that is water-based and has ingredients like rosewater or chamomile extracts, and vitamin B derivatives like panthenol, which help lock in moisture and prevent makeup from looking cakey.

Now that you know what to look for, here's how to find an astringent or toner that you'll love. See the 16 best toners and astringents now.

Image via Imaxtree

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Best Toner No. 16: Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner, $26

TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 7.7*

Why it's great: This is one of the best toners in town when it comes to oil control. "I love that this toner helps tame oily spots but doesn't over-dry my skin," said a reviewer. Another user explains that it "leaves [her] skin feeling fresh and clean while wiping away — and keeping at bay — excess oils."

Agree? Disagree? Write your review for Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner here.

*At time of publication

Buy now



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Best Toner No. 15: Omorovicza Omoressence, $120

TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 7.8*

Why it's great: Looking to treat yourself? It doesn't get much more luxurious than this hydrating toner. "I love the ritual of splashing this on my face," says one user. "It feels so refreshing and cleansing." Other reviewers were also quick to praise the "beautiful scent," as well as the fact that it helps make skin feel "fresh, silky and hydrated."

Agree? Disagree? Write your review for Omorovicza Omoressence here.

*At time of publication

Buy now



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Best Toner No. 14: Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner, $44

TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 8*

Why it's great: Though a couple users joke that this isn't exactly "the prettiest thing to have sitting on [your] vanity," they're quick to praise the formula itself, noting the "light rose scent" and the "light and hydrating" texture. One reader recommends using this when your skin feels stripped (like after using a clay mask), since this toner "brings it back to life."

Agree? Disagree? Write your review for Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner here.

*At time of publication

Buy now



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Best Toner No. 13: Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner, $21
TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 8.4*
Why it's great: "My skin thanks me every day," says a reader of this pore-reducing product. It keeps her "T-zone fresh" and the rest of her face "hydrated." Other readers agree that this gentle toner is a "cornerstone to a daily beauty routine," because it "delivers beautiful results without side effects."

Those with sensitive skin, take note: Readers say this toner creates "no irritation," and leaves them with skin that "feels clean and soft." A TotalBeauty.com member advises, "If you usually skip toner, give this formula a try!"

Agree? Disagree? Write your review for Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner here.

*At time of publication

Buy now

A common debate rages in the beauty world: Do toners play a critical role in a skin care regimen or are they an unnecessary step in the cleanse-tone-moisturize process?

Dr. Howard Murad, MD, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist, backs those of us on the pro-toner side. He says toning is an essential step in any healthy skincare regimen. "I find that using a toner is just as crucial as cleansing, as it restores the skin's natural pH balance," says Murad.

But what about the growing posse of dermatologists who argue that toners are not only unnecessary, but can also be too drying? Murad says these docs aren't considering how far toners have come in recent years. Once strictly alcohol-based (and yes, therefore very drying), toners now "use ingredients that help fight aging, acne, and even redness, and they are beneficial for all skin types."

If you're looking to add a toner or astringent to your skin care routine, it's crucial to find one that'll work best with your skin type. So keep these tips in mind:

• Have oily or combination skin? Use an astringent. These work best when it comes to removing excess oil, says Dr. Nathan Newman, MD. Astringents have ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel or acids (like salicylic acid) that help reduce oil production and fight acne. Using an astringent is critical for oily skin as it helps "clean and tighten your pores, making it harder for debris and dirt to penetrate your skin and cause irritation or breakouts," says Murad.

• Have dry or sensitive skin? Use an alcohol-free toner. Those with dry skin should avoid using astringents or toners that have retinols, glycolics, or benzoyl peroxide in them. These will be "too drying and may even cause the skin to break out," says Newman. Instead, look for one that is water-based and has ingredients like rosewater or chamomile extracts, and vitamin B derivatives like panthenol, which help lock in moisture and prevent makeup from looking cakey.

Now that you know what to look for, here's how to find an astringent or toner that you'll love. See the 16 best toners and astringents now.

Image via Imaxtree
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