If your beauty routine has been shaped by Western concepts, you might have one idea of toners: that they’re astringent, harsh formulas designed to dry out your skin and, possibly, zap it into submission.
Koreans have a different idea about what toners are supposed to do. After a deep oil and foaming cleanse, toners serve as a way to prep skin for what’s next in the 10-step beauty routine . Toners balance the pH level of the skin, which is a crucial step in preparing skin to absorb the heavier, vitamin-packed serums and creams that come next in Korean’s famed beauty routine. So, in addition to adding some softness and revitalization to skin after it’s been stripped of unnecessary grime, it also helps to improve the efficacy of the spot treatments, serums, boosters, and moisturizers that come next.
If it’s a step you’ve been skipping or doing wrong, that’s okay! Adding a quality toner to your routine will pay off quickly. Here’s a few suggestions of some of Korea’s finest to get you going:
Son & Park Beauty Water
Here’s a favorite of both K-pop idols and the world’s beauty fanatics. It’s soft and thanks to a few different fruity and floral oils, it’s also incredibly refreshing. A bonus for the on-the-go and/or sleepy beauty lovers: while Beauty Water doesn’t qualify as an everyday cleanser, the variety of ingredients here allow it to be used as a quick swipe clean when you’re on the run.
Be The Skin Botanical Pore Toner
Here’s a toner beloved by the oily skinners of the world, because along with balancing pH levels, it helps to control sebums and minimize the appearance of pores. Additionally, Be The Skin is a favorite brand of natural skincare fans; it uses tons of organic ingredients and herbs to give skin a natural glow.
Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner
This is about as gentle as a toner can get while still being super effective. This should definitely be your toner if you use other AHA serums or products to help cut down on blemishes, because the AHA and BHA acids in here help prepare your skin for the heavier AHA creams that really go to work on pimples and blackheads.
MISSHA Super Aqua Enzyme Peeling Softener
This ultra moisturizing toner is great for people who want to get rid of some of their harming sebums and dead skin cells without stripping all the essential oils and moisture from their face.
Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner
If you want to get indulgent with your toner, look no further. This one has a steeper price tag, but for nothing. It hits a lot of the hot points in Korean beauty right now: it’s 95 percent organic, uses fermentation for its formulas in order to enhance the natural ingredients of its products, can be part of a waterless regimen, and is super moisturizing. Thanks to the fermentation, it also packs in serious antioxidants, and several beauty reviewers have noted that they noticed redness and minor breakouts disappeared or significantly declined after incorporating this toner into their routine.