Cleansing wipes away grime, pollution and anything else clogging up your pores, while moisturiser can plump up skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and hydrates. The question is: do we really need to use toner as well? The step after washing your face and before putting on any serums, oils or moisturisers, toners normally take the form of a liquid you pour onto a cotton pad and swipe all over your face. There’s no denying it can feel good on your skin – particularly in summer, when it cools your face.

Skincare advice often changes, and we’re always being told to add new things into our regimes, but toner is one of those products that’s been around so long, we rarely stop and think about whether it’s vital.

Medical director at Cosmetics Doctor, Dr Amber Woodcock, puts it simply: “A toner is not an essential part of any routine,” instead referring to it as something of an “old fashioned habit”.

So why have we been using toner for so long? “I think people use toners because it has been drilled into them by beauty counters for years,” explains Woodcock. “People I have asked said they thought it was to balance the skin, or remove any traces of cleanser.”
Woodcock doesn’t consider toners terrible, but notes their effectiveness varies. “In reality, most commercial toners won’t do much for your skin, and in fact some may even be worsening the skin, as they can dry it out and strip our natural oils (which is why we can get that tight, tingly feeling),” she explains.

There are plenty of skincare ingredients we’d religiously slather on in the past, that have since fallen out of favour – be it harsh cleansers or peel-off blackhead masks – and we’re increasingly wising up to what’s beneficial for our skin.
Woodcock is keen for toner to go the same way. “It is much safer and effective to now exfoliate with liquid acids and topical products such as retinol. They target dead skin cells and turn over fresh skin,” she explains.
However, when changing your skincare routine and trying new products, it’s important to do your research, take things slowly and speak to your GP and skincare professional if any issues arise. “Everyone is unique, so it’s vital you don’t just copy your mate’s skincare routine,” says Woodcock.

That said, skincare can be an important tool for self-care and mental wellbeing, so if toner makes you feel good and really gives you that relaxing, spa-like experience, maybe there’s no need to chuck out your favourite product just yet.
However, it’s important to be fully aware of what toners do, and look to include plenty of other nourishing and hydrating products in your regime.