Asian woman applying toner

It all started when K-Beauty taught us that we can do more than just cleanse, tone, and moisturize. Before then, toner was this mysterious step that was borderline superfluous. It was only when we considered adding more steps to our skincare routines that we started thinking about what toner is really for — especially with others like it, such as astringent and essence, around. Understanding the differences between the three is essential to creating a streamlined and effective skincare routine.

For Balanced Skin, Reach for a Toner

Think of toner as a neutral skincare product that is suitable for all skin types. Its primary function is to balance the skin’s pH right after using facial cleansers. Supposedly, it also removes any residual dirt, makeup, oil, and cleanser. Toners got a bad rap during the ‘90s when most varieties available had intense astringent properties and were quite drying on some skin types.

These days, . Alcohol-free formulas save the skin from dryness. Toners can also aid in treating specific skin issues thanks to their moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and brightening ingredients. POND'S Bright Pore Conditioning Toner, for example, contains brightening niacinamide and Pore Tightening Essence to minimize the appearance of pores. It even has sunscreen for UV protection. 

If You Have Oily Skin, Try an Astringent

While you can use toner on oily skin, some individuals prefer the pore-tightening, tingling effect of astringent. Usually, astringents are alcohol-based or contain witch hazel, which can help remove excess oil. The latter is also helpful in treating inflammation, such as acne. A product such as Eskinol Deep Cleanser Pimple Fighting helps get rid of pimples with its Dermaclear formula, containing salicylic acid and tea tree oil. It also has vitamin B3 and chamomile extract to soothe redness and irritation.

If you find that astringents are too drying on your skin, stop using it immediately. Any sign of irritation, such as redness, flakiness, or itching, may mean that you’re sensitive to the product. 

To Give Skin a Little Love, Use an Essence

An essence is a skincare product that can give the skin a lot of comfort. It’s thicker than toner, but it’s also non-sticky and absorbs into the skin easily It's great at deeply nourishing the skin with moisturizing ingredients, thereby strengthening the skin barrier. This, in turn, makes the skin more resilient against external aggressors, such as harsh treatments, UV rays, and extreme temperatures. Moreover, all skin types are usually receptive to essences. 

POND'S Bright Perfect Potion Essence is a product that combines essence, toner, and mask in one formula. It contains , which penetrates every skin layer to deliver intense hydration. It also has Gluta-Boost Essence, a powerful antioxidant that brightens the skin and fades dark spots. Pat the essence onto the skin directly for best results.

Choose between toner and astringent, and use either of them with essence for extra nourishment. Whether your routine has three steps or 12, adding any of the three can help achieve your skincare goals