Skin toners - Cosmetic Science Talk

Skin toners

I've been experimenting with skin toners, by adding ingredients to toners I bought, but now I want to make a toner totally selfmade.
I have read many blogs and DIY tips and what not. I've been reading lots of ingredients lists to find out what is really necessary for a toner.
But if I try to formulate one myself, I come to the conclusion:

It just becomes a simplified moisturizer, only more water based... and I don't see the point in making it anymore.
Which brings me to the question: is a toner really necessary and what should it do. Alle the information I find are all marketing based, so of course  you need a toner. But why, I would really like a scientific answer.

For example:
- Does it really help if you moisten the skin before you put on a moisturizer? I see a lot of advice that if you put a moisturizer on a damp skin, you will 'enclose' this water within the skin, where I think, the only thing you do if you put a moisturizer on a wet skin is dillute the moisturizer? Or am I missing something?
- Can a toner make the ingredients in the moisturizer more effective?
By the way, I'm reading these things on Paula Begoun's site and Jetske Ultee from Uncover (Jetske Ultee is some sort of a dermatologist with her own cosmetic line).

I understand if you will put on some medicinal cream with tretinoïn for example, you might want to calm the skin in advance.
And I read you shouldn't put tretinoïn on a damp skin, because it could be even more potent. So a damp skin really helps some ingredients to be absorbed better? It does help spread the moisturizer better, that's a fact.

What is your opinion on toners and what ingredients should be really in it (which you don't put in a moisturizer for example).


  • Toners used to be/contain astringent materials and are thus different to moisturisers.
    Witch hazel (extract not the distilled water) is an astringent as is tannin and all sorts of polyphenols. Alcohol is often used as a carrier.
  • Hmmm, so I might just as well leave that out of my routine. Too harsh for my skin.

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