16 of the best toners for every skin type, need and concern

These are the best toners for every budget and skin type - tried, tested and rated by our beauty team

an image of some of the best toner buys we tried for the feature
(Image credit: Future)

The best toners aren't a wholly necessary skincare step, but they can make a huge difference to your complexion.

Adding another step into your skincare routine might feel unnecessary but the best toner buys have a multitude of impressive benefits like natural skin brightening, hydrating, balancing, exfoliating, and more. 

Not convinced? Here’s exactly why you should give the toner a try. “Toners should be applied as the second step in your skincare routine to cleanse skin to help replenish and restore the microbiome,” explains, Marc Elrick, Founder of BYOMA. “They help with skin exfoliation and rebalancing skin’s pH, so incorporating them into your routine will help promote clearer, brighter skin by increasing cell turnover and shifting any dead skin cells. This will increase the efficacy of the rest of your skincare.” 

While they aren’t considered essential, toners have the ability to help aid absorption and the efficacy of your best skincare products like serums, skincare acids, and moisturizers, which is an added beauty bonus. Here are the beauty teams' favorite ones.

an image of the best toner buys we tried for the feature

(Image credit: Annie Milroy)

The best toner for all skin types, chosen by our beauty team

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Pixi Glow Tonic Exfoliating Toner

(Image credit: Pixi)

1. Pixi Glow Tonic

The best toner for most people

Specifications

RRP: $29 / £18
Key ingredients: Glycolic acid, aloe vera, red ginseng
Designed to: Exfoliate and brighten lacklustre skin

Reasons to buy

+
Alcohol free
+
Boosts luminosity
+
Smells great

Reasons to avoid

-
None, we love this

Pixi Glow Tonic is a cult skincare staple that has acquired legions of adoring fans thanks to its ability to switch on the skin’s glow like a light switch. The 5% glycolic acid formula unglues the bonds that lock dead cells to the surface to purge pores, smooth skin, and accelerate cell turnover. All this exfoliating goodness is offset by soothing aloe vera to keep skin feeling nice and comfortable. 

All of this together made make-up application a much smoother task - even the best foundation can look a little uneven if your skin texture isn't quite right, but after using this my base seemed to sit better on my skin, looking more even and natural. From the very first evening, my face looked a lot perkier, and within a week I was waking up to noticeably brighter, healthier-looking skin. This is a great toner to have in your arsenal when your skin is looking a little fatigued and dull.  

the ordinary glycolic acid toning solution for acne prone skin

(Image credit: Boots)

2. The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

The best heavy duty toner

Specifications

RRP: $13 / £11.50
Key ingredients : 7% glycolic acid, amino acids, aloe vera, ginseng and tasmanian pepperberry
Designed to: Improve skin radiance, texture and clarity

Reasons to buy

+
Vegan & cruelty free
+
Works fast
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Probably too harsh for sensitive skin

When we say heavy-duty, we mean it. This toner will tackle all of your skincare woes quickly and effectively - however, this probably won't be suitable for sensitive or overly dry dehydrated skin. Best for those who are acne prone, or have stubborn scarring or rough texture that just won't budge, this ridiculously affordable toner from The Ordinary is one of the best out there. 

Glycolic acid is a holy grail ingredient for many skincare junkies, particularly those who suffer from breakouts, due to its ability to help you shed dead skin cells. It is also a multi-use product, with many fans of this toner using it to help prevent ingrown hairs or reduce odor under the armpits (yes really!) On my acne-prone skin, I find that using this toner every other day is plenty to keep my breakouts at bay without over-drying. For best results, use your hands to gently pat it into the face and allow it to dry before applying other products.  

It is best to use this toner in the evening, and be sure to use your best facial sunscreen every day when using this (or any type of glycolic acid) as it makes you more susceptible to sunburn. 

ole henriksen dark spot brightening toner

(Image credit: Boots)

3. Ole Henriksen Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner

The best toner for fine lines and dark spots

Specifications

RRP: $35 / £27
Key ingredients: Lactic acid, witch hazel water, lemon and sugarcane
Designed to: Treat dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles and visible sun damage

Reasons to buy

+
Multi-use product targeting lines and skin clarity
+
Vegan
+
A little goes a long way

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than other drugstore toners

When it comes to fine lines and deep-set sun damage, it can often feel like no amount of skincare will reverse these signs of ageing. That is until you stumble across this toner. Ole Henriksen has made a name for itself in the skincare world, largely thanks to a brightening and glow-inducing range of products that always deliver on results - and this toner is no different. 

Part of a PM range designed for use in a skincare night routine, this product is designed to be used after cleansing in the evening and followed up with the brand's barrier booster essence that will reveal a lit-from-within glow the next morning. For best results, use a cotton pad to sweep the product across the face and remove any excess dirt or build-up that your cleanser didn't quite tackle. 

This toner has a lemony fresh scent that makes you feel squeaky clean and absorbs super quickly into the skin. You may feel a slight tingly sensation when first applying, but this is common with AHA products that really work. It is also suitable for sensitive skin, so what's not to love?

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic

(Image credit: Liz Earle)

4. Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic

The best toner for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $23 / £17.50
Key ingredients: Aloe vera, calendula, cucumber
Designed to: Replenish thirsty skin

Reasons to buy

+
Alcohol-free formula
+
Suitable for sensitive skin
+
Deeply hydrating

Reasons to avoid

-
Leaves skin a little tacky

If plant-powered natural skincare is important to you, treat your skin to this tonic, created back in 1995. It has a lovely, soft botanical scent, fragranced with a blend of essential oils, which belies the naturally active ingredients within the formulation. 

Don't be thrown by the gentle, radiance-enhancing botanical ingredients. This toner produces tangible results. Even after double cleansing, it removed a lot of extra muck on the cotton pad. When the skin feels slightly tight and uncomfortable after cleansing, this tonic cures that symptom - a testament to its pH-balancing credentials, replacing stiffness with a soft and sated feeling. Aloe vera offers instant refreshment and cucumber extract provides a calming, cooling effect. If you have a regime already filled with high-powered actives in serums and creams, this gentle and soothing tonic will be a sympathetic pairing. 

The Inkey List PHA Toner

(Image credit: The Inkey List)

5. The Inkey List PHA Toner

The best toner for sensitive skin

Specifications

RRP: $12.99 / £12.99
Key ingredients: Polyhydroxy acids, niacinamide, aloe barbadensis leaf juice
Designed to: Gently exfoliate and brighten dull, rough, sensitive skin

Reasons to buy

+
Gentle formula
+
Reasonably priced
+
Leaves skin extremely soft

Reasons to avoid

-
Smaller-sized bottle

PHA skincare provides gentle exfoliation on the skin's surface and is ideal for congested, dull, and rough complexions. PHAs also have humectant properties, meaning they help your skin attract and maintain moisture. So if you're weighing up AHA vs BHA, which are often associated with side effects such as dryness and irritation, PHA could be worth a try instead. These polyhydroxy acids help to enrich the complexion as they slough off dead skin and clear out pores. 

I can certainly speak to its gentle approach. I didn’t experience a hint of tingling or stinging, and my skin felt comfortable afterward, rather than gagging for serum and moisturizer. Of all the toners on this list, this left my skin with the softest, silkiest feeling, and a glow akin to having emerged from a facial. Some reviews say it has visibly helped users who are learning how to get rid of acne scars, and while I don’t have much in the way of scarring, my skin already feels less bumpy and rough.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Lotion

(Image credit: La Roche Posay)

6. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Lotion

The best toner for blemish-prone skin

Specifications

RRP: $16.99 / £15
Key ingredients: Lipo-hydroxy acid
Designed to: Remove blackheads and minimise pores

Reasons to buy

+
Unlikely to irritate
+
Curbs excess oil
+
Dermatologist-recommended

Reasons to avoid

-
Slight tingling sensation

The worry with astringent toners is that they will be a little too efficient at eliminating excess oil, and will leave skin feeling stripped and tight. That is far from the case with La Roche Posay’s hypoallergenic, minimalist formula, which has been specifically developed with reactive skin in mind. So yes, it helps to regulate oil production, prevent blemishes and unblock pores but not at the cost of irritating or drying out the skin. 

It was amazing (and hugely satisfying) to see how much residue came off my face when using this toner after cleansing, and my pores certainly looked less gapingly obvious. With a complexion that errs on the dry side, I may not be the target audience for this toning lotion but my skin felt refreshed, softer, and looked more refined - proving that every skin type can benefit from gentle clarifying.

an image of kiehls Calendula Herbal Extract Toner

(Image credit: Kiehl's)

7. Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Toner

Best toner for oily skin

Specifications

RRP: $54 / £39
Key ingredients: Handpicked Calendula flowers, burdock root extract
Designed to: Minimize the look of enlarged pores, soothe problem skin

Reasons to buy

+
Alcohol-free
+
Non-comedogenic
+
Suitable for normal, sensitive and oily skin types

Reasons to avoid

-
Might not like the texture of the petals

This iconic product from Kiehl’s has been loved by customers since 1960, so I had high hopes before even opening this swirly little bottle. Designed to soothe troublesome or oily skin, this alcohol-free and non-comedogenic solution promises to be kind to all skin types. It also says that it reduces visible blotchiness and surface oil, so it will be the ideal skincare for oily skin.

The second this toner hit my skin it immediately cooled and refreshed, so much so, it almost felt like I was holding cold metal against my skin. Visibly reducing my post-shower redness within minutes, I really loved using this toner. It also gave me some of the softest skin I have ever experienced - I kept insisting my friends stroke my face to prove it. 

I’m a huge fan and just know I’ll be using this throughout the summer months to keep me and my skin refreshed and calm. 

an image of Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

(Image credit: Paula's Choice)

8. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Best toner for acne prone skin

Specifications

RRP: $34 / £34
Key ingredients: Salicylic acid, green tea extract
Designed to: Unclog and shrink pores, smooth and even skin tone

Reasons to buy

+
Absorbs quickly
+
Potent ingredients
+
Highly effective
+
Multi-use product 

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be very drying
-
Not ideal for dry skin types

I have long been obsessed with this product and would go as far as to say that it’s one of the beauty products that has changed my skin the most. This potent formula is one of the most effective spot-busting products I have ever tried and it gets to work immediately. While I don’t use it as a toner per see (I wouldn't use it every day, or after every cleanse), if you have acne, or hormonal spots, and have been wondering how to get rid of acne, this is the buy I'd recommend. 

Whether you decide to apply it as a toner all over your face or dab onto problem areas, this is one of the best toner options for blemish-prone skin. The high percentage of salicylic acid and green tea extract work in harmony to help clear skin and keep hydration levels and irritation balanced. I have recommended this product to so many people that I wish I worked on commission, but I won’t ever stop singing its praises.

an image of Typology Radiance Toner with 2% Vitamin C + Lemon Verbena Water

(Image credit: typology)

9. Typology Radiance Toner with 2% Vitamin C + Lemon Verbena Water

Best toner for boosting radiance

Specifications

RRP: $22.60 / £16.90
Key ingredients: Vitamin C, Lemon Verbena Water
Designed to: Illuminate complexion, reduce pigmentation and tone the skin

Reasons to buy

+
Leaves skin silky soft
+
Boosts radiance
+
95% naturally derived ingredients

Reasons to avoid

-
Mild clinical scent
-
Initial sticky feeling

Radiance-boosting toners tend to be glycolic acid based so it’s a refreshing change to see one that uses Vitamin C to brighten. Offering a more gentle approach to overhauling lackluster skin, the potent ingredient works to naturally brighten your complexion after just a couple of uses. This toner is formulated with 2% Vitamin C, plus lemon verbena water to help illuminate your complexion, reduce pigmentation, and tone the skin. 

After saturating a cotton pad with this toner, I swept across my face post-morning cleanse. Best used in the mornings, this radiance-boosting toner felt lovely and refreshing on my skin. The solution is formulated with the same acidic pH as the skin, so it helps to rebalance after each time you wash your face. It also works to eliminate limestone and mineral residue found in tap water, great if you live in an area with hard water. It basically cleans your face after you’ve cleaned your face, something I didn’t know we needed to do until now. I really enjoyed this as a refreshing and rebalancing morning toner and think it’s fantastic value for money. 

an image of REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

(Image credit: REN Clean Skincare)

10. REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

Best all rounder toner