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Post in Skincare Aware

To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

Hi everyone!


So it's been, like forever, since I last posted on here.  Oh, how I've missed this beauty realm!  Anyway, I have an interesting topic I'd like to share and hear your thoughts on!


I grew up as the niece of a Mary Kay consultant, and from day one I was always told that every beauty regimen consisted of "cleansing, toning, and moisturizing".  In attempts to combat my acne-prone skin, I researched and researched the best ways to achieve clear skin and realized that toning isn't always the key to healthy, acne-free skin--everyone's skin is different, and sometimes being too harsh or using products that are too drying can actually CAUSE acne.  I had finally found a routine and products that worked and, through trial-and-error, discovered ingredients that aggravate my skin (which I now avoid).  Before, I had been using Murad's AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser twice a day (I can already hear the gasps) and my skin was clearer than it had been in a while and my skin seemed to tolerate the exfoliation.  However, I'm moving to Florida in three weeks and was just recently there to scout out the area.  MAN, had I forgotten how HOT, HUMID, and MUGGY it is! Phew!! Guess what happened?  Of course my skin was constantly oily, and instantly began to break out.  And my Murad cleanser instantly seemed to stop helping and began aggravating my skin.  So when I returned home (Ohio), I realized that I really need to rethink my skincare routine and LISTEN to my skin.


ANYWAY, long story short, I re-visited my toner, Sea Breeze Original Formula.  I used this long ago, but stopped due to the fact that I was afraid of drying out my skin too much and therefore causing my skin to produce too much oil and therefore creating acne.  **ugh, the deadly cycle**.  So I've been using a gentle cleanser morning and night, followed by my Sea Breeze toner (I hate that they call it an *astringent* sounds so....harsh), followed by a gentle, basic moisturizer or my beloved Argan Oil.


Honestly, my skin improved overnight.  So I wondered, am I really CLEANING my skin enough?  Today, I experimented with just that!  I had nothing to do today (and by nothing, I mean NOTHING!) So that meant no makeup, nada. I cleansed, toned, and moisturized this morning at around 9:00.  It's 7:00 pm now and I was feeling grimy, so I cleansed my face then just took a few cotton rounds and toner and swiped them on my face.


OH. MY. GOSH....THE DIRT!!! It's unbelievable!! And this is from literally doing anything and not wearing any makeup!!! I'm just stunned by how much dirt and grime my toner and cotton pad were able to pick up, and it has really made me reconsider the methods in which we "clean" our face.  I know toners aren't for everyone, and I've been against them ever since I did my research on clearing acne-prone skin.  But my golly, I'm just stunned so I had to share this with you all, pictures included!!  I used it several times, the first cotton round being the first swipe, and the last one being a clean, un-used one (just so you can see the difference).skin.jpg


How do you feel about toners, and if you use 'em, which ones do you prefer?


P.S.  Sorry for the super. Incredibly. Long. Post.  It's been way too long, and I felt the need to be thorough.  Plus, as I said, I had NOTHING to do today, which equals boredom.  Which equals this post.  Smiley Happy

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I had completely written off toners until I read this thread lol. I did some research and I think I'm going to try the Algenist one - it's fairly new but got great reviews.

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

How I deal with humid weather is bringing some baby wipes in my bag or I keep a 50 sheet package of oil blotting sheets in my wallet...


How I look at toners is that it get EXCESS dirt and gunk off AFTER you have cleansed your face, like someone said... toners aren't meant to be used in place of a cleanser I totally agree, but I have been guilty of using toners alone, because either I was too lazy to wash my face or I didn't have a cleanser on me.


I first started off using the Clean & Clear Toner which has 0.5% salicylic acid when I was about 17 year old and I noticed this helped me clear up my face of acne, I instantly feel in love with this product... I was currently in Vietnam at that time, so when I came back to America, the first thing I did was search that product up and behold, it was at Target for like $5... I also noticed there was a red one, I looked at the back and saw it had 2% Salicylic acid so I decided to buy both to see what would happen... lets just say 2% is a bit much for me... considering I have dry skin already, it didn't hurt my skin... I just don't feel it is as effective as the 0.5% toner...


After watching some Doctor Oz there was an episode on which food colouring is bad, and it was like Blue something... and I imediately thought... oh wait my toner is blue... so I checked... and errr... it did have Blue # something, I GOT FREAKED OUT... I started researching and found something about how it slowed down the process of collagen production, but cosmetics databases had nothing on this blue ingredient... regardless I stopped using it for awhile, but occassionally still use it... I've recommended it to friends before and they've bought it (still need to ask for results) so I'm not gonna play the hypocrite and stop using the product myself just because of one site, this product I felt was the start of my clear skin nonetheless...


I also have tried Estee's perfect clean as well as Chanels Lotion Confort sans alcool, although I really wanted to buy the Chanel's water toner instead (which is online only) I ended up with alcohol free instead, nothing wrong with alcohol based toners, I don't feel as though Chanel's toners are a MUST I rarely use it, the only time I use it is whenever I'm about to use a Chanel skincare Product on my face, like Le Jour, or La Nuit


Other than that, I think Estee's $20 toner is perfect... I want to explore out more though on toners... but I'll get there, probably not going to buy another Chanel toner, even though I want the water one Smiley Sad


OVERALL, my point is... I see toners as a must if you want perfectly clean skin... even if you used a cleanser, your water might be too acidic or too basic, and even if you THINK you got it all off, you didn't... and if you don't see any residue on your cotton pad... you either are not moving the pad in the right motion or you just need a new cotton pad.


I love toners that have an extra kick to them, like how clean and clear is a toner and astringent or how Chanel is an anti pollution, which means it closes up the pores, it makes toners that much better, other than just getting excess gunk you missed off your face...


If I used a toner alone at the end of the day without washing my face, that top cotton pad depicts what it would look like perfectly... the other two would probably be just washing my face with water or not really cleaning my face really well with a cleanser. If I clean my face thoroughly and used a toner, I would probably just get a little bit of dirt I missed off, maybe even see some dead skin on the pad. 


I usually use 2-3 cotton pads per session while focusing on the mid section of my face the most, slightly pushing upwards and using upward strokes or circular motions on my forehead... I don't really like toning my neck, although if you do...  you will probably find a lot of gunk.


I keep on rambling about this hahaha, I can talk about toners for awhile... I feel naked when I don't tone my face at night... cause I subconsciously think I will break out if I don't tone my face

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I agree with others about altering your cleansing routine. I too was thinking that with no make-up on your face the number of cotton rounds was a lot!


Various lighting alters images yet it appeared to me that the cotton rounds also had make-up previously not removed thoroughly by the cleansing.


I'm not saying be more aggressive washing your face; maybe changing to a different cleanser & toner as others have already suggested.


Also, even on a freshly cleansed face, especially right out of the shower, you'll still probably see what appears to be dirt or color on a cotton round. Probably skin cells mixed with make-up. The deeper the skin color, no matter how cleansed your skin is, using a toner/cotton round is still micro-exfoliating so it's normal to see some skin cells that darken on white. 



Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

Absolutely true about skin cells, because many of these products are meant to chemically exfoliate.  Also, I've noticed that my dad (who does not wear makeup and uses a Clinique toner) has very dirty looking cotton rounds after he has used his toner.  I think that in his case, oilier skin causes environmental pollutants to cling.  So it ends up being a mix of dead skin cells and environmental pollutants.  This may not happen as much to people with drier skin.

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

The point I was trying to make but stated more eloquently.  Thank you.

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

@Notcreative...that's where I got my 'finishing thoughts'...your post! LOL Smiley Very Happy

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I forgot to mention that on occasion I will use rose water after cleansing to take any remaining residual off.   I do find that OTC cleansers are either too harsh or not effective enough.   Right now its hit or miss regarding cleansers, although I am using Origins Plantscription cleanser, which is a light foam.  I'm going to use it until its all gone and try something else!

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I would honestly take another look at your cleanser, or consider double cleansing. Toning should be about returning your skin to its natural pH quickly, not about removing dirt. The only time I've ever seen residue on my toning pad is after I would use a self tanner, or if I hadn't cleaned my face thoroughly. 

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

i said this as well in my initial post, but i just want to emphasize it--this is very important ! understand the function of a toner / cleanser and you'll know if a toner cleanser is working for you. a good cleanser (even if needing to be used twice) will get your makeup off. toners are not meant to do the dirty work of cleansers !!!

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I use two different toners. I use whichever I feel is best for my skin at that time. I use either Murad's Hydrating Toner, or Korre's Pomegranate Toner. Both are alcohol free. It really does make a difference in my cleansing routine, and my overall skin health. I found the drugstore ones were too harsh for my skin, and the alcohol made it drier. So I avoid those. 

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I use a toner in the morning to remove any oil my skin produced while sleeping. I use Dickinson's Witch Hazel toner. It removes oil but isn't drying.

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I always use a toner! I feel like my skin care regimen is not the same without it. I was taught in school, that a toner is used to balance the ph level of your skin after cleansing. Not only that, but sometimes people have 'hard' water and it can leave a film, so toning helps remove that film as well.


Right now I am cleansing twice, the first cleanse is with a creamy cleanser to dissolve makeup and the second is with a gel cleanser to remove anything else and at night I use my clarisonic, when I tone now, I see a huge difference in left over dirt.

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I do have EXTREMELY hard water where I live! Interesting point!

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I once had a MUA tell me that not toning was like washing your dishes in hot soapy water and NOT rinsing the soapy film off!  Makes sense to me..wash face, tone to remove any film/dirt left behind, then moisturize.  Just use a gentle toner, like boscia.

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I always use toner (mostly Lancome Confort) unless I am using a mask, because I do not want to erase the effects of the mask with the toner.  The exception is when I only do an eye mask, but I try very hard not to let the toner touch anywhere the eye mask did.  GlamGlow for eyes makes my eyes look amazing, but they always look less amazing if any liquid gets near the treated part.


Occasionally, my cotton round comes up a little dirty too.  I rarely wear makeup, so the dirt is not makeup on me either.  That said, I think four cotton rounds may be a little too much toner (especially Sea Breeze, because I have heard it is a strong one).  And, the fact that you were still coming up dirty on the third one makes me wonder if your cleanser is not effective.  I am not gasping on your twice daily use of an exfoliating cleanser, but I always use a cleanser before I exfoliate.  The exfoliators do not really have a cleansing effect on my skin.  I have never tried an exfoliating cleanser though to be fair.  


If I saw that much dirt on my cotton rounds, I would switch my face wash pronto.  That way, you can get back down to one cotton round of toner.  Your face really does not need four doses after each washing.  My guess is even a gentle toner would cause your skin to dry out with that much product.


I am glad you're no longer using the exfoliating cleanser twice a day though.  I usually only exfoliate my skin once or twice a week (not counting my Clarisonic, which I use every other day but only with cleanser).  I may have missed it, but what face wash are you using now or are you still using the Murad despite its lack of effectiveness on your skin in its new, future climate?

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

Oh, I always use a toner, or something in between. I've tried sea breeze (still have it actually) but I think it was way too harsh for my skin. I switch it up based on what I need.

I use Thayer's rose witch hazel if I still feel a little grimy or if I'm breaking out.

Caudalie's beauty elixir if i'm breaking out, or just to refresh my skin (usually in the morning.)

Caudalie grape water, or just plain old rose water, if my skin just needs some extra hydration.

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I tone my skin with apple cider vinegar and I think it does a great job!

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I totally understand what you are saying.    Years ago, I used Sea Breeze and then used Clinique's toner.  I use eye make up remover before 'washing' my face at the end of the day, with no toner.  I bet if I did use a toner, the situation would be similar to yours.  I use a serum, eye cream and then moisturizer.  I feel like I have too many steps in my beauty routine!

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I guess I am from the old school with "cleanse tone moisturize"  regimen...I have always used some sort of an in-between product, mostly the Clinique formula 2 toner with salicylic acid to help exfoliate and clean out my pores. Even after the clarisonic there is some dirt on the cotton balls...I think the toners are fine to use, as long as they don't have too much alcohol.  There are many out there that are more to soothe and prepare the skin for moisturizers.

SOme people think they are awful and don't use toners, but I think they have a place in any skin care system! Congrats on your move--I love Florida, but you are riight about the humidity and heat!  It will probably take your skin a while to adjust to it there. good luck!

Re: To "tone" or not to "tone", that is the question!

I've been using Neutrogena Clear Pore Astringent for years and feel like my face just isn't clean if I don't use a toner.  I also started using Lush Breath of Fresh Air last year.  Like babybear, I didn't wear any makeup today; and when I used my toner, I couldn't believe all the dirt on the cotton ball!

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