Can toners cause acne?

In this post we are not just going to answer the question can toners cause acne, but also provide solutions for every case when toner can cause acne.
Can toners cause acne

Toners can cause acne if you are using toner that is not suitable for your skin type, you are using one with bad formula (with irritating ingredients), you are not applying it the right way, you are applying multiple products that have the same actives, if your toner has actives that don’t go well with actives from other products of your skincare routine and if your skin cannot tolerate particular ingredient that is found in certain toner.

1. Using toner that is not suitable for your skin type

If you want healthy and glowy skin you need to use a toner that is intended for your skin type. Just to be clear this doesn’t just apply to toners, every product in your skincare routine should be suitable for your skin type and skin conditions that you need to treat.

So, before buying and introducing a new product to your skincare routine do your research.

Why is this so important?
It is important because toners and other products have ingredients that are good for treating skin conditions on certain skin types. For example, if you have dry skin it is not a good idea to use tea tree extract because it can be too stripping and irritating or if you have oily skin use oil-based toner.

Also using toner that contains witch hazel for sensitive skin will just irritate your skin, and everything that causes irritation will cause acne.

Knowing which ingredient is beneficial for your skin type is key to skincare.
So our best advice to avoid buying toner that is not suitable for your skin type is to identify your skin type and do your research about ingredients that are beneficial for your skin.
The best way to identify your skin type is to visit a board-certified dermatologist. Or if you want to do it yourself at home the easiest way is to feel your skin. You probably have oily skin if it seems greasy and shiny all over.

Dry skin is flaky or scaly, feels tight, or both. If your T-zone is the sole area that shines, you most likely have combination skin. You probably have normal skin if it feels moisturized, smooth, and non-oily.
If all of this is overwhelming use toner that is suitable for all skin types.

2. Using toners with bad formulas


What is a toner with bad formula?
That is the toner that consists of poor-quality ingredients. When you are buying toner you should also research the brand that is creating that toner, and avoid it if they are using alcohol, parabens, sulfates, silicones, essential oils, synthetic fragrances, and more.

Also, be careful when you are doing your research. On some websites, you can find toners with those ingredients in recommended products. Here at HerGlance, we think that kinds of recommendations are very irresponsible and that nobody should use products with those ingredients.
The problem with those ingredients is much deeper.

For example next to skin irritation which can lead to acne, scientific research indicates that parabens may also interfere with hormones in the body and interfering with hormones may lead to hormonal acne. If toner contains alcohol it will be over-stripping, irritate your skin and cause acne. Also if it contains fragrance and essential oils it will irritate sensitive skin.

Nowadays with modern formulations, it is possible to make a toner without those ingredients. You can find great toners with quality ingredients that are also budget-friendly. You just have to show your interest and have a strong will to treat your skin concerns.

3. You are not applying your toner the right way

You should apply toner after cleansing your face and before serums and moisturizers.
Toner is a hydrating phase and applying it on a face that is not cleansed properly can cause clogging of pores and in the end acne.

Cleansing is a very important part of your skincare routine and we have a post that will inform you about everything that you should know about skin cleansing.
It is often recommended to apply toner with a cotton pad, but it is not specified what kind of toner should be applied with a cotton pad.

If you are applying hydrating toner with the cotton pad you are wasting your product and by rubbing the cotton pad all over your face you are kind of exfoliating your skin which can lead to over-exfoliation (which will irritate the skin and ultimately cause breakouts), especially if are applying exfoliating serum afterward.

Exfoliating toner can be applied with a cotton pad by gently pressing it on your face to avoid the exfoliating back of your hands.

But usually, these toners are very gentle exfoliators so applying it with your hands to avoid wasting product and washing your hands afterward should not be a problem.

4. You are applying multiple products that have the same active ingredients

You may think that if you apply more of a particular ingredient you will get better results. No, that is not the case.
When implementing active ingredients into your skincare routine in most cases less is more.

For example, if you wash your face with a cleanser that contains glycolic acid, then follow with a toner that has mandalic acid and after that, you apply a moisturizer with lactic acid you will get the opposite effect.

All of those ingredients belong to the AHA group (Alpha-hydroxy acid) and applying a lot of AHA acids will lead to dryness and irritation and as you already know anything that increases irritation will cause breakouts.

5. Your toner has actives that don't go well with actives from other products

Your toner has actives that don't go well with actives from other products
The answer to your question about whether can toners cause acne might be in combining your products. You should know what ingredients you can apply together. For example, if you apply toner with AHAs and topical vitamin A (retinol), toner with vitamin C and retinol, or toner that contains salicylic acid and retinol you will cause irritation on your skin that can trigger acne. To use toners with those ingredients and retinol you should separate them. Use retinol as part of your nighttime routine and a toner that contains one of those active ingredients in the morning. For more information, you can visit this link.

6. Your skin cannot tolerate particular ingredient that is found in certain toner

When you want to incorporate new toner with different ingredients, than the usual ones that you use, into your skincare routine you should do a patch test. Test the new product on the small surface of your skin before applying it all over your face.

Also, you should introduce it slowly. Start applying it a few times a week to see how your skin will react and if you see that product is working you can use it daily.

This post is written and managed by Hannah West

Hannah West

Hello there, lovely readers! I’m Hannah West, and I’ve had the incredible journey of serving as a Skin Health Researcher for over a decade. My passion for skincare started early, and I’ve dedicated my life to research healthy, glowing skin. Through my years of reading about it, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of proper skincare routines. From addressing common concerns to tackling complex issues, I’m here to share my knowledge and experiences with all of you so you don’t have to research it yourself.

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