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How to pick the best toner for aging skin, according to experts

This product is optional in a solid skincare routine, but it may have worthwhile benefits. Here’s what you need to know.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 22, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Camille Dixon, PA-C
Older Woman Using Toner
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 22, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Camille Dixon, PA-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

There’s no one-size-fits-all in skincare. What works for one person may not necessarily have the same results for someone else. But it’s only natural to want the best, so our team of licensed dermatology providers reviews and assesses countless products on the market to offer product recommendations. So here, you’ll find the products that hold up to our rigorous standards.

As our skin ages, it requires special care and attention to maintain its health. One product an effective routine for aging skin may include is a high-quality toner. A product specifically formulated for aging skin can address common concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, and uneven texture, helping to restore vitality and firmness to your skin. So how can you find the right one for your skincare needs?

Here, we’ll explore some of the best toners available in the market for aging skin. By understanding their key features and active ingredients, you can make an informed decision about which toner may suit your specific needs.

What is a toner?

Toners and astringents are used interchangeably. After washing your face, toners aim to eliminate any remaining dirt, grime, and impurities that may still be lodged in your pores.

Additionally, some toners can help rehydrate the skin, restore the skin’s pH balance, reduce the appearance of pores, alleviate irritation, calm skin, and even provide antiseptic benefits.¹ With their expanded range of benefits, toners have become an essential component of many skincare routines, offering a holistic approach to skincare.

Ingredients to look for in an anti-aging toner

So we know that toner can help cleanse your skin and provide a host of additional benefits—but what ingredients should you search for to target aging skin? Let’s take a look.

Vitamin C

A powerful antioxidant, topical vitamin C has a well-documented history of anti-aging benefits. It can increase collagen production, decrease collagen breakdown, and help stabilize the collagen we already have. Plus, it has a variety of properties that can protect against photoaging, including its ability to neutralize oxidative stress.² Incorporating a toner with vitamin C may help you reap these benefits.

Hyaluronic acid

Another skincare ingredient whose benefits are well-documented, hyaluronic acid has been shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, it can help increase skin smoothness, plumping, and hydration.³ If you want to double up on hyaluronic acid, try a lightweight moisturizer like The Moisturizer along with your toner. Or, if you want more intensive hydration, a hyaluronic acid-infused toner along with The Rich Moisturizer can provide a boost of hydration to help restore your skin barrier.

Glycerin

Also known as glycerol, glycerin is another hydrating ingredient found in a plethora of products—including our own Gel Moisturizer, where it’s used in tandem with hyaluronic acid. But research shows that it can also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, so you may want to consider trying it in a toner.⁴ 

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)

Popular AHAs, including lactic acid, glycolic acid, and citric acid, are often used to exfoliate the skin and help treat acne. However, a toner with an AHA can also help improve the appearance of wrinkles, undo the effects of photoaging, and bolster skin elasticity.⁵ Keep in mind that using AHAs can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so don’t forget to top your toner with a broad-spectrum Sunscreen.

Tips for choosing an anti-aging toner

If you can find an effective toner for your skin, you may reap a variety of benefits. But before you get started, keep these guidelines in mind.

  • Avoid an alcohol-based toner if you can. Some key ingredients in these types of products, like ethanol, can cause skin dryness and irritation.⁶ 

  • Toners can get a bad rap for drying your skin out, but they don’t have to! If this is a concern of yours, choose a product with hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

  • Choose a toner without fragrance, especially if you have sensitive skin.

  • As we mentioned, make sure to wash your face before applying toner—and if you have sensitive skin, you may particularly love a lightly foaming, gel formula like The Cleanser. While a toner can help clear away dirt and impurities, it shouldn’t replace a face wash.

  • Apply toner before serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

When incorporating a new product into your routine, it’s always a good idea to conduct a patch test first to see if it will irritate your skin. And if you have any further skincare questions, reach out to a professional, like a licensed dermatology provider at Curology.

A personalized solution for your skincare needs

The best toners for aging skin are specifically formulated to address common concerns like fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, and uneven texture. They can help restore vitality and firmness to the skin, so it can regain its natural radiance.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Selecting the right products for you shouldn’t require guesswork. Take control of your skincare routine and experience the difference that Curology can make in achieving a healthier, more radiant complexion. Click here for a 30-day trial* today and receive personalized skincare from one of our licensed dermatology providers.

FAQs

Is toner good for aging skin?

Toner may help combat some signs of aging depending on the formulation. Look for ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and AHAs that may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, neutralize oxidative stress, or help restore your skin barrier.  

What uses do toners have in dermatology?

In dermatology, toners can be a great addition to most routines.  Once you’ve washed your face, toner can help remove any remaining traces of dirt, grime, and impurities that might still be clogging your skin pores.⁷ In fact, pores may appear smaller as a result. Toners also serve to rehydrate the skin, restore its pH balance, alleviate irritation, soothe the skin, and even offer antiseptic advantages.⁸

Do you put moisturizer or toner first?

Toners are optional products that you can add to your skincare routine to address a specific concern—in this case, aging skin. If you want to try incorporating it into your routine, apply it before you use moisturizer.

What ingredients are used in toner for acne-prone skin?

AHAs are common ingredients used in toners to help combat acne. You can also try a product with salicylic acid, which can help improve acne and discomfort associated with acne.⁹

Research has shown that toners containing ingredients such as cucumber and aloe vera yielded great results for acne problems.¹⁰

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don't have to:

  1. Chatur, V. M., et al. Formulation and physical characterization of herbal face gel toner. World Journal of Advanced Research and Reviews. (2021, July 20).

  2. Chatur, V. M., et al. Formulation and physical characterization of herbal face gel toner. World Journal of Advanced Research and Reviews. Ibid.

  3. Al-Niaimi, F., et al. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (2017, July).

  4. Draelos, Z. D., et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). (2021, August).

  5. Santoprete, R., et al. Reduction of wrinkles: From a computational hypothesis to a clinical, instrumental, and biological proof. Skin Res Technol. (2023, March).

  6. Moghimipour, E. Hydroxy acids, the Most Widely Used Anti-aging Agents. Jundishapur J Nat Pharm Prod.(2012, January 4).

  7. Lachenmeier, D. W. Safety evaluation of topical applications of ethanol on the skin and inside the oral cavity. J Occup Med Toxicol. (2008).

  8. Wijaya, O.C. Determination of Anti-Aging Properties of Cosmetic Toner Product on Primary Human Dermal Fibroblast Cell Line via Analysis of Extracellular Matrix Expression. Indonesia International Institute for Life Sciences. Ibid.

  9. Bettoli, V., et al. Effectiveness of a combination of salicylic acid-based products for the treatment of mild comedonal-papular acne: a multicenter prospective observational study. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. (2020, December).

  10. Chatur, V.M., et al. Formulation and physical characterization of herbal face gel toner. World Journal of Advanced Research and Reviews. Ibid.

Camille Dixon is a certified Physician Assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL.

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• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
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Camille Dixon, PA-C

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