What is Toner, Why Should You Use it, and What are the Best Toners for Men?

You already know the benefits of taking proper care of your hands and feet. And you likely already have a shaving routine and go-to hair care products. But in all your grooming glory, are you neglecting your skin? If you want to avoid excessive wrinkling and sagging skin that ages you way too soon, you need to incorporate a skincare routine into your daily ritual — and it needs to include a toner. For more information on how to take care of that beautiful face of yours (and why using a toner is key), we turned to the men’s grooming expert for Boardroom Salon, Lauren Rachel.

Rachel calls skincare a “universal fountain of youth” that is “a reality for anyone who does not want to look years older than their true age.” Who doesn’t want to look young, healthy, and vibrant? The benefits don’t stop there, though, as Rachel reminds us: “Men also need to maintain and protect their face in order to improve their feeling of wellness, their perception in the workplace and the social scene, and to minimize the likelihood of skin cancer and other unwelcome side effects.”

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It’s more accessible than you think. “Skincare is not a ‘women-only’ club with secret rituals to which men are not admitted,” says Rachel, “It’s a no-brainer — both men and women want to look their best.”

Still, if it’s your first foray into establishing a daily routine, figuring out what products to use and when can feel intimidating. “Some guys are unsure what products to purchase, don’t see the need for a skincare routine, or say they don’t have time – but the majority of men simply don’t know what’s needed for their skincare routine.” Not to worry though, because Rachel’s got you covered – she’s got plenty of experience in helping men find the routine that works for them. “For guys who are not sure where to start,” she says, “get into a routine and find what products work best for you, your skin, and your lifestyle so you can maintain your signature style and keep yourself looking great and feeling confident.”

The Essential Skincare Routine

To see the most benefit, your routine should be daily — about five extra minutes tacked onto your morning and evening rituals.

It might feel intimidating at first – choosing which products to use and when – but it’s quite simple. And once you’ve established what works for you, it’s only going to take about ten minutes of your time per day. Here’s the best news of all – you only need four products. According to Rachel, here’s everything you need for the ideal daily routine:

  • Cleanser: “Wash your face each morning and night with a quality cleanser, not a bar of soap, and with lukewarm water. Avoid washing with cold or hot water, as both can cause broken capillaries.”
  • Toner: “Use morning and night after cleansing and shaving and before applying serum or moisturizer. Apply to face and neck with a cotton ball or pad. Do not rinse.”
  • Sunscreen: “Apply a dime-size amount of SPF directly to face – SPF 15 or 20 works great. You can skip a step with a moisturizer that includes SPF.”
  • Moisturizer: “After washing, apply a thin layer of quality moisturizer. The moisturizer will soften and hydrate your skin, and help maintain its elasticity while minimizing dryness, blotchiness, and wrinkles.”

You can also give your skin a little boost by making sure you drink plenty of water and get ample restful sleep. “Lotion is only half of the hydration equation,” explains Rachel, “skin needs moisture from the inside out. Drink water! Also, watch your caffeine and alcohol intake as both dehydrate your skin. Catch some Zs — your body needs consistent sleep to look and feel its best!”

Once you’ve got your basic routine established, you can start adding in other products, too. “Boardroom recommends adding in an eye cream,” says Rachel, “No, you aren’t too young to use an eye cream and no, it’s not too late to start using an eye cream. It’ll help reduce puffiness, softens the appearance of circles and helps alleviate and prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Choose one that contains advanced ingredients and soothing extracts. A little goes a long way.”

Further Reading

It’s also a good idea to supplement your daily routine with a few less frequent treatments, like exfoliating and getting professional facials occasionally. Rachel recommends exfoliating at least once a week: “Exfoliating deep cleans and smooths your skin, clearing the way for a closer, easier shave. The scrub opens congested pores and sweeps away deep-down oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. Before shaving, apply a dime-size amount of scrub onto a wet face, rubbing gently in circles. The power of the scrub is built-in, so you don’t have to rub hard. Then rinse with warm water.”

As for facials, they’re a great way to treat yourself to some R&R while helping your skin at the same time. “Men generally produce more oil than women because of higher testosterone levels, yet many men run at the thought of getting a facial. A good facial soothes irritated skin and deep cleans which can help with getting a cleaner shave, as razor burn is caused by sensitive reactions to the blade. Facials provide impactful and efficient results — they’re ‘skin-changing.’”

Alright, What’s So Great About Toner?

Toner isn’t always the first thing you think of when creating a skincare routine – too often it gets left out entirely. But you absolutely should be using one, because the benefits are great and the effort is minimal. “Toners control excess oil and shine without over-drying skin while minimizing the appearance of pores and gently exfoliating skin to help reduce blackheads. They’re also easy to use.” Because they remove excess oil from your skin, toners can do wonders for keeping your pores clean and preventing breakouts. You can also opt for a hydrating toner, which can provide extra hydration. Toners are great travel grooming products because in a pinch you can pat some on to help clean and moisturize your skin without doing your full routine.

“Toners control excess oil and shine without over-drying skin while minimizing the appearance of pores and gently exfoliating skin to help reduce blackheads. They’re also easy to use.”

How do you choose your specific brands? Rachel recommends starting by looking at the ingredients list: “Pass on any skincare product with alcohol in the first six ingredients. Alcohol dries out your skin, leaving it tight, flaky, and/or irritated. Instead, look for salicylic acid which helps dissolve the top layer of dead skin cells and the facial oils that clog pores.” Natural ingredients are a huge plus, too, as Rachel explains: “Look for toners with natural ingredients and witch hazel – a potent antioxidant. Red macroalgae extract helps regulate oily skin and protect skin against pollution.”

You also need to consider your skin type when choosing products. Oily, acne-prone, or sensitive skin will benefit from carefully selected products. The last thing you want is to end up with a routine that irritates your skin instead of giving it a handsome, healthy glow.

Best Toners for Men

Expert Recommendation

Jack Black Oil-Control Toner
Jack Black Oil-Control Toner

This toner is alcohol-free, and all Jack Black products are…highly effective, easy to use, paraben-free, cruelty-free, free of harsh surfactants, vegan … and safe for sensitive skin,” says Rachel.

Editor Recommendations

Triumph & Disaster Logic Toner
Triumph & Disaster Logic Toner

This toner from New Zealand’s Triumph & Disaster grooming brand is a powerful cleansing toner imbued with witch hazel extract, an all-natural anti-acne agent; alpine willow herb extract, which is clinically proven to reduce pore size; and Tasmanian pepper fruit extract, known for its calming, soothing, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Baxter of California Herbal Mint Toner
Baxter of California Herbal Mint Toner

Balance your skin’s pH without drying it out with Baxter of California’s herbal mint toner, which is a mash-up of multiple herbs and botanicals that combine to create one powerful toning, cleansing, and moisturizing agent.

Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Tonic for Men
best toner for men kiehl s facial fuel energizing tonic

Eliminate blackheads, prevent breakouts, and soothe yourself with this combination toner, aftershave, and facial refresher. Even though this product contains alcohol, most reviewers mention that it does not dry the skin like so many other toners, so cheers to that. And if that’s not suitable enough, Kiehl’s also offers a stellar oil-free toner that will suffice for every skin type, ridding the face of dirt, grime, and oils, while preparing a great base for your moisturizer to do its duty.

Ursa Major Essential Face Tonic
Ursa Major 4-in-1 Face Tonic

Ursa Major has a heap of effective grooming tools for men, but its fresh-smelling face tonic is by far its pride and joy. This spray-on tonic cleanses your facial skin, regulates oil production, and provides a smooth base for healthy skin to flourish. The brand also offers the formula in a travel-size bottle to cover all your grooming needs abroad.

DTRT So Fine Toner
So Fine by DTRT

The Seoul, South Korea-based grooming gurus DTRT are becoming a hot commodity in the men’s care world and it’s all-encompassing So Fine toner is part of the reason. If you’re looking to soothe skin after a close shave, this formula packs natural pine resin for its anti-inflammatory properties and cactus extract to help retain your natural oils and put forth a smooth and healthy face.

InstaNatural Vitamin C Toner
InstaNaturals Vitamin C Toner

If you’re not an experienced toner-sieur, InstaNaturals is one of the best bang-for-the-buck options. This vitamin C-packed toner works wonders for promoting healthy skin, but it also boasts a powerful blend of witch hazel and tea tree oil for cleansing your skin, ultimately leaving behind a healthy, tight, and matte facial appearance with a balanced pH and plenty of anti-aging ability.

Neutrogena Oil- and Alcohol-Free Toner
best toner for men neutrogena alcohol  amp oil free

Now, if you’re trying a toner for the first time and you’re searching for something simple that gets the job done, then Neutrogena’s alcohol- and oil-free toner is for you. It finishes off a refreshing, replenished feeling by gently removing blemishes, reconditioning skin, and keeping your natural oils.

Poppy Austin Rose Water Hydrating Toner
Rose Water by Poppy Austin

This hydrating vegan rose water toner by Poppy Austin is suitable for even the most sensitive skin types, featuring a complex yet lightweight blend of handmade Moroccan rose water that will refresh and hydrate your skin by absorbing excess oils and calming inflammatory breakouts.

For the love of your skin, fellas, start your own daily routine – and include a toner. With Lauren Rachel’s tips, there’s just no excuse not to. You’ll look better, feel more confident, and be healthier for it.

Editors' Recommendations