Model applying toner to a cotton padModel applying toner to a cotton pad

How to use a toner

Round these parts, you might hear face toners referred to as liquid gold. Sounds a bit OTT, right? But you’d be surprised by the difference a daily splash and sweep of face toner could make to your skin.

Welcome to our total toner guide.

Prepare to learn what toner is and why you should use it, as well as when and how often to use a toner in your skincare routine. Ready to join team toner? You’re in the right place.

Model wiping their face with a cotton pad

What does face
toner do?

Face toner is a liquid that is splashed on to a cotton pad after you’ve washed your face to swipe away remnants of dirt, excess oil or makeup, and prepare skin for the rest of your skincare regime. It’s like cranking your cleansing up to 11!

That’s the short answer. But the slightly longer answer is that a good face toner can actually have a multitude of different benefits, especially if you select the best toner for your skin type:

Person holding Seaweed Toner


Different toners have different formulas, and most are specially designed to incorporate ingredients that will benefit specific skin types. They can be particularly helpful for those of us with oily, blemish-prone or dry skin.

Person applying skincare


Using a toner daily doesn’t just help remove any traces of grime and makeup left on the skin’s surface after washing, but it can also help pores appear minimized after use, and help you tackle your skin’s excess oil.

Model applying skincare to face


As toners help to leave your face clean and ready for your next routine step, they allow your later skincare products better access to the skin’s surface to work more efficiently.

How to use a
face toner?

Step 1: Squirt your toner on to cotton pads (we’d recommend reusable ones).

Step 2: Sweep your soaked cotton pad over your face, starting in the centre.

Step 3: Use gentle outwards and upwards movements.

That’s it – it’s simple, really!

Toners are typically applied straight after a face wash and before any serums or moisturisers. This is because they are intended to further cleanse and prepare the face – meaning that the full effect of any products applied beforehand would be lost. The texture of the pad will help to pick up any remaining makeup particles and dead skin cells still clinging to your face after washing, while leaving some of your chosen face toner behind.

After toning, your face will be squeaky clean and ready to receive the full beneficial bounty of the lovely skincare products in the rest of your routine.

How often should you use toner on your face?

You should use toner on your face daily – morning and night if possible. If you’ve read our guide to building a skincare routine, you’ll know that a great regime needs to be consistent, and can be adapted to suit your needs when you wake up and when you’re ready for bed.

A toner adds a hit of refreshment in the morning, and an all-important double whammy of cleansing after a day out and about getting grubby. Why not mix and match different toners? You could choose a mattifying toner in the morning and a hydrating one overnight.

Model holding Seaweed Toner
Tea Tree Toner
Model applying toner to face

If that’s a step too far, newcomers to team toner should start with a simple sweep of toner once daily, and build up gradually. We’re sure your skin will be asking for more soon enough...


“But do I really, actually need to use a toner?” we hear you ask. Well, yes, if you’re wanting to up your skincare game, it’s a good place to start. Cleansing properly is essential, and a good session with a toner can only help with that. Some toners are designed specially for dry, sensitive or blemished skin.

People who are prone to uneven skin tone may find that using the right kind of toner product can help even skin tone and refine its texture.

Toner being applied to a cotton pad

Which toner should
I choose?

You should pick a toner based on your skin type, as the formula of each toner can vary greatly and is designed with a job in mind. While one toner may be infused with tea tree oil and ideal for blemished skin, a toner enriched with Vitamin E may be perfect for skin that needs a big hydrating hug.

The good news is that our guide to the best toners for your skin type is just a click away. There, you’ll meet our range of The Body Shop toners – including cameos from some glamorous Essence-Lotions – made to help hydrate, balance, mattify or calm.

(Perfect for a total toner convert like you.)