This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

Do You Really Need Toner? One Dermatologist Says No

The great debate is finally over.
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Being bombarded by a sales associate in a store's cosmetics department can leave some people feeling confused and overwhelmed. After all, when you were only looking to top up the same generic brand of moisturizer you've been using for the past five years, it can be hard to process adding exfoliators, face creams and serums to your already established skincare routine.

But there's one common skincare product that you can officially put to rest, according to a Toronto dermatologist, and that's toner.

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"Toner is generally not necessary," Renée A. Beach, who works at Toronto's Women's College Hospital and Bay Dermatology Centre, told HuffPost Canada in an email. "When one uses a good mild cleanser and an evening leave-on serum or retinol/retinoid-based treatment, these often suffice."

So if skin toner isn't necessary, why was it invented in the first place? According to Florida dermatologist Leslie Baumann, it's because "cleansers used to leave a soapy film on your skin that had to be removed."

While Baumann noted on that today's cleansers no longer leave a residue, people have continued to use toner for the other benefits it boasts, the biggest of which is pore tightening. However, Beach warned that this isn't completely accurate.

"Pores are permanently 'open'; they need to be in order to provide an exchange of oil/sebum with the surface of the skin," she explained. "Toners do not close or tighten pores, unfortunately."

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Regular use of retinoids, however, can minimize the size of pores, Beach added, which is why she recommends using retinoid-based treatments in place of toner.

Despite her advice, Beach said that toner can be beneficial to people who have oily skin or are looking to even out skin texture. This is thanks to the variety of toners on the market that cater to different skin types.

Those who want to reduce excess facial oils should look for a toner with one to two per cent salicylic acid, while those who want smoother skin texture should find a toner containing hydroxy acids, she advised.

But if you have eczema or any other kind of skin irritation, toner should be avoided, Beach added.

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that everyone's skincare regimen is different and that it's up to you what you include and omit from your routine.

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