Thursday, July 5, 2007

Toner--the Misunderstood Skin Care Product

We all know that a cleanser cleanses the skin. A moisturizer, well, moisturizes the skin (amongst other things). But what does a toner do? Provide sleek defined muscle lines to your face? It seems many people don't know or have misconstrued thoughts on the function of a toner.

While searching for something else today, I came across a Q&A on a Yahoo message board that was totally inaccurate. As one dedicated to empowering people to take better care of their skin, I felt obliged to clear this matter up immediately…


Q: What does a toner do?

A: It improves the skin’s firmness…or so the beauty industry says.


This is completely incorrect.

First, let me clarify that we are not talking the black powder that fills your printer, we are talking the liquid that is applied to your face after cleansing.

While certain toners may include ingredients which they claim will help firm your skin (debatable), the real/main function of a toner is to restore the pH balance of your skin after cleansing.

Skin averages a pH balance of 4.5 - 5.5 in order to protect from outside elements (bacteria, toxins, dirt, pollution, allergies, etc.). For those of you that know your pH scale, this means that skin is a little on the acidic side (water is pH 7.0 and is considered pH neutral).

Your skin usually maintains it’s pH balance naturally through perspiration, sebum (fatty secretions), & hormones.

Most soaps (with average pH of 9.5 – 10) & water off-set the pH balance of your skin by wiping off what is known as your skin’s natural ‘acidic shield’. If you use a washcloth, the majority of laundry detergents have a pH balance of 10 – 12, which is not fully eliminated in the rinse cycle & leaves alkaline residue behind…which affects your skin as well. After cleansing, skin can take between 2 hours (for the fastest) up to 36 hours (for sensitive skin) to naturally restore its pH balance. During this time, your skin can be more vulnerable to the damaging elements previously listed above.

Another benefit of toner is that it also picks up any dirt & grime that your cleanser didn’t get. This is sometimes how I know if a new cleanser really works or not (i.e. how much dirt is on my cotton pad after I tone).

Restoring pH balance also helps your skin accept all serums & moisturizers better, meaning that they will perform better too.

This, my friends, is the job description of a skin toner. Any questions?

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