What Is Toner and What Does Toner Do for Skin?

Supercharge your skin with face toner and discover easy skincare secrets in my guide to what is toner and what does toner do?

Darlings, every skincare expert will tell you that you need to add a high-performance toner to your skincare routine, but what is toner and what does it do? In this skincare guide, I’m demystifying all things toner and sharing my secrets to using toner to get glowing skin results you can see, feel and believe.

Discover need-to-know toner tips and tricks in episode 3 of my Tilbury Tell All skincare series from my magical niece, Bella Tilbury, and Director of Scientific Development at Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, Jonathan Reynolds, then learn more toner secrets below!

What is Toner and What Does Toner Do?

Toner is a skincare step that helps to balance, brighten, and hydrate skin. They often take the form of a liquid, mist, or tonic and are used to replenish the complexion after cleansing. After washing your face with a cleanser, skin can be left thirsting for moisture, and toner is the restorative skincare step that your freshly cleansed skin needs. A supercharged, acid-free toner like Glow Toner can help to bring the look of your complexion back to life while providing skincare benefits such as gentle exfoliation and a pore-refining effect.

What is Toner

Face Toner Benefits: Why You Should Use A Skin Toner

Benefits of Toner model shot


Toners often contain skincare ingredients that help to facilitate cell turnover; they work in a similar way to an exfoliator but are much more delicate and suitable for daily use, helping to gently exfoliate dead skin cells on the surface of the skin to unlock a smoother-feeling skin texture. Without regular exfoliation, dead skin cells can build up on the face which can lead skin to appear uneven, dry, and dull. The benefit of using a toner like my Glow Toner rather than an astringent is that they are gentle enough to be used morning and night, every day – just swipe on for smoother-looking skin!

Glow Toner is an acid-free formula infused with plant-based acid alternatives like Super Peptide RoyalEpigen P5 and EXFOLACTIVE™ to give skin a glowing, smoother-looking appearance. Apply Glow Toner twice daily for 28 days and skin feels 2x SMOOTHER*!

Discover more tips and tricks on how to get smoother-looking skin.


Hydration is the secret to healthy skin and your toner can be a source of deeply hydrating skincare benefits. Toners are often infused with moisture-rich ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, helping to hydrate skin and give it a healthy-looking, radiant glow. The hydrating benefits of toner are twofold; your toner provides immediate hydration to revive the appearance of skin and top up its moisture levels after cleansing, as well as helping to strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier to help improve moisture retention.

After applying Glow Toner, skin is 2x more hydrated in 1 hour**! This high-performance toner is powered by sodium hyaluronate and niacinamide for short and long-term skin hydration. Sodium hyaluronate has a smaller molecular structure than hyaluronic acid which allows it to absorb even more effectively into skin, and niacinamide has barrier-strengthening properties that helps to promote healthy skin cell function and boosted water retention.

Discover my skincare ingredients glossary.


After washing your face with cleanser, toner is the skincare step that helps to renew your skin’s natural glow. Toner can help to brighten and revive the appearance of your skin tone, helping your skin to glow with youthful-looking vitality. You can use toner in your skincare routine as a daily radiant glow solution to unlock the best glow of your life! Reach for a glow-boosting formula like my Glow Toner to reawaken the look of your complexion and make it appear born to glow!

In user trials for Glow Toner, 93% agree skin looks younger, plumper, and glowing***!

Discover more tips for glowing skin.


Some toners have pore-refining properties that can help enlarged pores appear visibly reduced. Your toner can help to remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin which may otherwise clog your pores, as well as providing pore-tightening and minimising effects with targeted ingredients like the plant-derived PORETIGHT in my Glow Toner. Everyone can benefit from the pore-refining effects of a toner, but they are particularly beneficial for oily and combination skin types which are prone to larger-looking pores.

93% agree pores appear unclogged after using Glow Toner***!

Discover how to minimise the appearance of pores.

Glow Toner Before and Afters

Toner is every glow lover’s friend and provides so many phenomenal skincare benefits. Seeing is believing, darlings! Discover glowing before and after results from using my Glow Toner daily radiance solution, below – it’s SCIENCE and MAGIC!

Love what you see, darling? Try Glow Toner 30ml and see the results on your skin!

Shop travel-sized Glow Toner

How To Use Toner

I recommend applying toner twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening to tone, tighten, hydrate, and gently exfoliate skin for glowing results. You can apply toner with a cotton pad or your fingertips onto just-cleansed skin to prep and supercharge ahead of applying your serum, moisturiser, and sunscreen.

How To Use Toner model shot


Before you apply toner, cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser to remove any remaining makeup, sunscreen, and impurities from your skin. Cleanser will prep your skin to effectively absorb the supercharged ingredients in your toner while also helping to unclog pores and refresh the look of your complexion.

Tilbury Tip: Cleanse your skin with Charlotte’s Magic Hydration Revival Cleanser to cleanse, hydrate, and prime in one supercharged step, then rinse your face with lukewarm water to reveal the perfect canvas for Glow Toner.

Discover how to wash your face the right way.

Want to learn more about cleanser? Discover episode 1 of Tilbury Tell All here!


Reach for an acid-free toner to gently tone and balance your complexion. While acids can be extremely effective in skincare, they can also be harsh on skin if used incorrectly or too frequently. I recommend alternating an acid exfoliator like Super Radiance Resurfacing Facial and an acid-free toner like Glow Toner to give your skin the best of both worlds. An acid-free toner will gently smooth the look and feel of your complexion, helping skin to appear rejuvenated and baby-soft between exfoliating.

Tilbury Tip: I recommend using an exfoliator three times a week to help resurface the skin on your face, then using an acid-free toner on the days in between for less rigorous exfoliation.

Discover more about exfoliating and the benefits of exfoliators.


You only need 3-5 drops of toner to leave your complexion looking radiant and reborn! To apply toner with a cotton pad, carefully shake a few drops of toner onto a soft, clean cotton pad until it is saturated with glow-boosting toner. Alternatively, you can apply toner with your fingers – just shake 3-5 drops of your toner into the palm of your hands and massage between your fingertips ready to apply.

Discover my guide on how much skincare product to apply.


With your fingers or a cotton pad, swipe toner onto your face to blanket skin in hydrating, skin-toning solution. If you are using a cotton pad, be sure to use gliding motions that don’t rub or feel rough against the delicate skin on your face. To apply toner with your hands, position your fingers in a soft, cupped shape, then gently massage toner onto your face.

Tilbury Tip: To evenly distribute your toner, start with the largest areas of your face like the cheekbones and forehead, then continue to glide the formula onto your nose, jawline, and around the mouth to coat your whole face.


Light, pressing motions can help toner to absorb and penetrate more deeply into skin. Use my Tilbury Tap massage technique to help product sink into your skin while also helping to stimulate your face. Softly press toner into your complexion with your cotton pad or fingers and be sure to use gentle, upward movements to create a subtle lift effect.

Discover more about the Tilbury Tap massage technique.


Unlike your cleanser which should be rinsed off after each application, it’s best to leave toner on your skin to absorb completely. Toners are infused with powerful skincare ingredients which are most effective when left to sink into your skin. Before you continue your skincare routine by applying serum, eye care, and moisturiser, give your toner a moment to become one with skin first.

Tilbury Tip: Skincare is self care, darlings… Luxuriate in the process! While you’re waiting for your toner, serum, or moisturiser to absorb into your skin, try saying some affirmations, performing a delicate facial massage, or practising a moment of mindfulness.

Discover wellness guides by wellbeing experts.

When To Use Toner

When to use toner

Should You Apply Toner in the Day or at Night?

Toner can be applied day and night – in fact, it plays an important role in your morning skincare routine and your evening skincare routine! In the morning, apply Glow Toner to build the basis for your daily glow before applying radiance-boosting products like brightening face and eye serums, magic moisturisers, and illuminating primers or foundations. At night, apply Glow Toner for a second time to help gently exfoliate, hydrate, and replenish skin, then wake up with an incomparable Tilbury glow!

When To Use Toner in your Morning Skincare Routine

In the morning, apply toner after cleanser and before face serum. I suggest cleansing with Charlotte’s Magic Hydration Revival Cleanser to freshen up your complexion after a night of beauty sleep, then spraying on Charlotte’s Magic Hydrator Mist to start your day with a hydrated, dewy-looking glow while also prepping your skin for Glow Toner.

Tilbury Tip: If you would like to apply a clay mask to help brighten the look of your complexion and give your pores a tightening effect, I recommend applying Goddess Skin Clay Mask after cleansing and before applying toner.

Tilbury Tip: On days when you feel your skin needs a little more exfoliation, swap Glow Toner for Super Radiance Resurfacing Facial acid exfoliator to exfoliate skin with an expert blend of AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs.

Discover my full morning skincare routine.

When To Use Toner in your Night Skincare Routine

At night, apply toner after cleanser and before face serum as you would in the morning. To give your skin a deeper cleanse that thoroughly removes the day’s makeup and sunscreen, I recommend double cleansing with Take It All Off makeup remover and Charlotte’s Magic Hydration Revival Cleanser. Once you’ve cleansed your skin, apply toner to gently exfoliate, hydrate, and refine the appearance of pores while giving skin a goodnight glow. After applying toner, reach for a hydrating serum like Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir to flood skin with overnight hydration.

Discover my full night skincare routine.

Discover the correct order of skincare products.

Darlings, the right toner can transform your skincare routine. So many skincare lovers skip toner because they don’t understand where it fits into their routine and what sets it apart from their other skincare steps. Now that I’ve given toner the spotlight it deserves, discover Glow Toner for yourself and give your daily skincare routine a glow up!

EXFOLACTIVE™ is a trademark of Silab.

*Tested on 30 people over 4 weeks.

**Tested on 15 people.

***Tested on 100 people over 4 weeks.

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Author Details

Charlotte Tilbury

Founder, President, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty

With over 30 years experience, Charlotte Tilbury MBE is the world's number 1 makeup artist and British beauty entrepreneur. Charlotte established Charlotte Tilbury Beauty in 2013, which is now a record-breaking beauty brand that has won over 400 awards.

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