I’ve recently received quite a few emails on this subject matter so I thought it might be a good time to share our thoughts. The question that has come up repeatedly (mostly related to the Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid lotion) is this:-
Is Toner meant to be wiped off or patted on? How can a toner clean your skin if its patted on?
First off, it might be useful to get it clear that there are 2 ideologies when it comes to “toner” or the 2nd step of skincare. I once talked about this when I pondered on whether toner is really necessary and whilst my opinions have not changed, the products I use have.
Ideology #1 – Toner is to be wiped off to further clean the skin
This concept is found mostly in Western skincare brands. The concept of a toner which many of us have been educated on is to further clean our skin of any residue of cleanser, or to close pores or exfoliate our skin. For those who have problematic skin, it makes sense. When I was battling acne, using the apple cider vinegar mix as a toner helped my skin stay clearer.
As for the use of toner to further clean skin of dirt and residue, I’d say, get a better cleanser. Honestly, a good cleanser will clean your skin of all dirt. I personally double cleanse. Its a personal choice and it works for me but thats because I follow the Asian philosophy in skincare as I’ll explain below.
Ideology #2 – Toner is to be patted on and left on your skin
I’ve learnt over the years that in Asian skincare, the concept is of infusing as much moisture into the skin as possible and they do this by layering. You will notice that there is double cleansing involved in most Asian brands – cleansing oil and cleansing foam. This gets your skin adequately clean of all makeup and dirt of the day.
The next step is “double moisturize” – lotion and emulsion. There is no “toner” to “close pores” or “clean off residual dirt”. Lotion, often referred to as “toner” by some is the first step of adding moisture to your skin. This is the reason you are usually advised to pat on your lotion. You could use your hands or a cotton pad but you are advised to pat it on your skin to get the lotion into the skin and to cool down the skin. Try it if you don’t believe me – it works :) This is also the reason that most “lotions” in Asian brands can be used as a mask – there is no harm to it being left on your skin because its meant to be.
One exception I’ve used is the Madara Deep Comfort Toner that is a wipe off toner but more moisturizing for my skin than normal “toners”. Sort of falls in the middle :)
Follow the instructions on your toner or lotion bottle
At the end of the day, my advise is to follow the instructions on the bottle of toner or lotion that you just purchased. There’s no point asking if a lotion should be wiped on when it says to be patted on because that’s not how it works best. Ultimately, you want the best out of your skin care and you’d get the best out of following instructions.
If you are using a lotion from an Asian brand, a mindset change is in order. Its time to stop thinking of “lotion” as “toner” because it performs a function quite different to that of “toner”.
On a personal note, I prefer the Asian concept of using a “lotion” and I have been for years – I started by using the Kanebo Blanchir Clear Conditioner so patting on a toner is not alien to me. It did take a bit of a mindset shift for me in the beginning, but once I got my head round the idea that a lotion is NOT a toner, things fell into place :)
Are you confused about the use of toners and lotions? How do you feel about either?