I always find it funny when people and by people I mean we Nigerians find out ‘toner’ does not in any way mean what we all think it is. I mean we all hear the word ‘toner’ and our minds register bleaching, change of skin colour, toning from a darker complexion to a lighter complexion. I could bet a thousand boxes that you’re probably just finding out that toners simply mean hydration in the skincare world. Scientifically, a toner is a liquid that penetrates the skin to deliver moisture and gently strip the skin of its dead cells. The big question in skincare is “Are toners important?” 

I would say yes and no. No, because having a toner in your routine isn’t as important as the other essentials which are your cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreen, and yes, because it doesn’t hurt having it in your routine. A toner is like a window seat on an airplane, it’s like the extra data bundle you get when you buy airtime. Just like cleansers, toners have also been made to combat some facial skin issues such as large pores, acne, dryness, and aging. Toners are used after double cleansing (Double cleansing is a method of cleansing your face twice; First, with an oil-based cleanser and again with a water-based cleanser) in your skincare routine, just before the application of serums or moisturizers. They can be used morning and night and applied with bare hands or cotton pads. As the basic rule in all things, careful consideration of your skin type should be applied to the selection of a suitable toner. 

Serums are the spice of life. If your skin is in need of a particular ingredient and it comes in a bottle as a separate entity that is a serum. They are smaller molecules which gives them a better chance of delivering active ingredients deep into the skin. These active ingredients range from arbutin and niacinamide to hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, and a lot of other things we can think of. The important role that they play and the benefits they bring to our skin cannot be over-emphasized. 

Serums have been produced to help tackle very important issues such as acne, hyperpigmentation, skin discoloration, sunburn, clogged pores, and large pores. Serums should be applied after double cleansing and toning, just before using moisturizers and sunscreen. In the selection of a serum, skin type (dry, oily, and a combination)  might not be the actual consideration but rather the issue to be tackled. In order to know what to choose, work must be put in to know what the various ingredients do for which you may want to consult a dermatologist. For the maximum effect, however, consistency is key.

Chisom Okoye