A Word About Toners, Western vs. Asian

For the longest time toners were nothing more than pure evil to me because of an ugly run in I had during my highschool years. During that time my teenage skin was being ravaged by puberty, it was an oil slick. My step mother swore that using toners would solve all my problems by taking all of those oils away and tightening more pores right up! What sounded like a miracle product shortly turned into my worse nightmare. So why do I trust Asian toners over Western toners? Because they are as different as day and night.

Western toners focus on absorbing oil and minimizing the appearance of pores, which in theory sounds great but they achieve this effect by relying on alcohol or witch hazel as the main ingredient. These astringents cause the skin to tighten by drying the absolute shit out of it. Not only is this incredibly damaging, but because your skin is now drier than two day old bread it might freak out and start producing even more oil in an attempt to over correct. In my case, my skin reacted to the alcohol by breaking out in a cluster of huge pimples all over my chin that took a month to clear up. It. was. Horrible.

~Sidebar! My feelings about “natural vs chemical.”~

I don’t see one being better than the other, and some people favor one side because of personal preference which is fine. That being said, there are plenty of “natural” ingredients that can be bad for the skin and there are many “chemicals” that are wonderful. Also, chemical is such a weird word cause chemical compounds are in nature all the time, making them “natural.” It’s kind of turned into this massive marketing thing. So just my two cents. Don’t use witch hazel tho.

~Ok I’m done~

It’s pretty easy to under why I was hesitant when I saw that toners are also a part of Asian skin care. Upon further investigation I learned that Asian toners don’t typically include alcohol and are meant to nourish the skin. Instead of being alcohol based, Asian toners are pH balancing potions that can have an array of benefits to help set the stage for your skin care, creating a base after cleansing.

I personally have four different toners that I rotate through depending on what I need accomplished. Since Asian skin care is centered on the idea of customization, I see my toners as yet another customizable step. I’ll be listing out my current toners and why I like them

Innisfree Balancing Skin

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I’m almost finished with this bottle 😦

I’ve talked about and reviewed this one already, and it is my morning routine toner. Green tea is an antioxidant and also has oil control properties. This toner is great because it helps to nourish the dry parts of my skin but also tame my oily t-zone. It has a strong scent, but it also has an incredibly high concentration of green tea extract, over 80%, so that’s a lot of goodies for my face.

Acwell liquorice toner

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Mostly “mask” toner

Acwell is a brand that is targeted towards acne prone skin. This toner incorporates liquorice, which is exactly what it smells like. Liquorice is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that helps to calm down acne. It also brightens the skin and balances pH levels to an optimal 5.5. I like to use this if I’ve been breaking out or if I’m going to use an active. If you are using actives, such as vitamin C or a BHA/AHA chemical exfoliant, a skin pH of 5.5 creates the optimal environment for them to do their work.

The other thing I use this for is as a makeshift mask. I’ll take a cotton square or piece of a cotton ball and soak it in this toner and slap it on a problem area that’s inflamed, leave it on for about 10-20 minutes like a sheet mask and my inflammation is calmed down!

Nooni Spout Smoothing Toner

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Isn’t this little travel size so cute?

This toner has a “sprout complex” (their words not mine) that is composed of broccoli, canola, and bean sprouts extract. These plants have natural AHA and BHA components that provide very gentle exfoliation from within the pore. Although this toner does kind of smell like soap, it’s slowly becoming a favorite. It helps to improve the general texture of my skin and is cleansing. I like to use this as my nighttime toner because it cleans off the last bit of any grime on my skin so that it’s ready for all the goodies I’ll slather onto my face.

I also use this as my “touch up” toner. Whenever I need to clean my face in the middle of the day, like after a workout or before a night time even, I’ll soak a cotton ball with this toner and swipe my face with it. My favorite thing to do is to clean my face with this toner and then have a sheet mask session for a midday pick me up for my skin.

Nooni Springwater Seed Essence Toner

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This toner is from the same line as the last one and it’s recommended for dry skin types because of its moisturizing properties. It doesn’t have the gentle exfoliation benefits as the smoothing toner but its combination of olive oil, green tea seed and quinoa seed helps to moisturize, calm and create a protective barrier to keep all that moisture in.

I like to use this toner on nights that I’m a little dry. My skin swings between oily and dry, sometimes flaking on the sides of my face, so this helps to add another light layer of moisture. I also use this when I use a clay mask of any sort, since they tend to suck up your skin’s moisture alongside your excess sebum. This isn’t my favorite toner, but it isn’t horrible either. In all honesty, it’s very similar in function to my Innisfree Green Tea toner so it doesn’t stick out to me.


As far as toners go, there is a huge variety out there with  different brands and different benefits to address specific skin concerns. American toners can be a little boring because they’re all essentially the same, a bottle full of alcohol. I couldn’t be happier with my four little buddies though, they all really help me make it through my week.

– Genie


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