The Simple Beauty Secret That Could Make Your Skincare Routine 10x More Effective

What Does Toner Do?

I have a question for you… Does toner factor into your skincare routine? Because, for the vast majority of my adult life I have not used a toner. They always felt quite old-fashioned to me (that classic “cleanse, tone, moisturise” routine, which in 2018 reads more like, “double cleanse, acid exfoliate, serum, moisturise”). And, to be perfectly honest, I never really understood what toners were supposed to do.

Allure’s article WTF Is Toner, Anyway? is a riveting read – especially if you’ve also spent most of your adult life throughly perplexed by toners. And, truthfully, I think the piece could completely transform your approach to skincare!

Allure spoke to Charlotte Cho, co-founder of Soko Glam, who provided a brilliant answer to the million dollar question: “what does toner do?”


“Think of toner as prep for your pores,” Charlotte Cho told Allure. “It brings your skin back to its natural acidic state, sweeping impurities away and helping your skin absorb your skincare products. Your skin is like a dried-up sponge. If you put a thick cream on a brittle dry sponge, it won’t accept it and it isn’t ‘prepped’ for moisture. But if you wet the sponge, the cream will sink in more easily.”

So, essentially, toner is like a primer for your moisturiser. It helps your skin accept and absorb products, therefore making your go-to moisturiser 10x more effective. Why did it take me 28 years to learn this?!

What Does Toner Do

Throughout the winter I was struggling to settle on a moisturiser, and I didn’t feel like anything was giving me the hit of hydration I really needed. Even my favourite formulas failed to do the trick. And in mid-March a shocking thought suddenly occurred to me… Maybe the problem wasn’t the moisturisers, but the way I was applying them. So I did some research and decided to start using a toner.


Over the past four to six weeks I’ve been alternating between two toners: Shiseido’s WASO Fresh Jelly Lotion and Caudalie’s Moisturising Toner. Both formulas are alcohol-free (so they won’t dry out your skin), and should be used after cleansing. I apply Caudalie’s toner with a cotton pad, but pat Shiseido’s toner directly onto the skin with my fingers.

Shiseido’s WASO Fresh Jelly Lotion is perfect if your skin is feeling particularly parched. It contains White Jelly Mushroom Extract, which helps deliver moisture to the skin’s deepest layers. And it makes my skin feel so dewey and plump that sometimes I don’t even need to follow it up with a moisturiser. It’s honestly amazing.

Caudalie’s Moisturising Toner has become my go-to for days when I’ve been wearing a lot of makeup, because it’s great at removing any residual impurities that my cleanser missed. It’s super refreshing, and I definitely feel like my moisturiser is more effective if I’ve toned my skin first.

Clear Skin Skincare Secrets

So, yes, there is a reason why “cleanse, tone, moisturise” are the three magic words in the beauty industry. And I now see the error of my ways, and will be using toners from here on out. Better late than never, right?

Style Credits: Blouse very old Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply (similar here and here) | Earrings by Olivia Burton 

Have you always been confused about the need for face toner? Were you always too embarrassed to ask, “what does toner do?” And, if so, will you be adding it to your skincare routine now? Leave a comment below to have your say… 

Photos by Kylie Eyra

P.S. I finally discovered the secret tot smooth, silky hair


  1. Sharni says:

    I’ve always used a toner and I love how it makes my skin feel! It’s been essential in calming down acne flare ups over the years.

    Sharni |

  2. monicawelburn says:

    Ahhh I have NEVER known what toner *really* does and my moisturising routine has been driving me nuts! Thank you so much for this sliver of wisdom honey – I am SO trying this!

    Monica x

  3. cocos_tea_party says:

    I don’t always remember to use it in the morning, I have to admit. But I keep a bottle next to my night time moisturiser, which helps remind me every evening x


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