Toner is one of the more underrated skin-care products out there: The right one can have a transformative effect on your skin. But finding the perfect toner for your skin type can be a bit of a challenge, especially for those with combination skin, who need something that strikes the balance between being hydrating and oil-absorbing. To help streamline your search, however, you'll find five of the the best drugstore toners for combination skin outlined ahead, whether your T-zone tends to run extra oily, your skin is sensitive, or you're dealing with frequent breakouts.
In most cases, you should avoid toner that has alcohol in it. This is a good general rule of thumb for all skin types, but for combination skin, alcohol can make dry patches significantly worse. To help treat those areas that run on the dry side like your cheeks, look for a formula that contains skin-softening and moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Aloe vera extract and rosewater can also be helpful, as they both have anti-inflammatory properties that are great for soothing irritation.
To treat those areas on your skin that tend to get shiny like your T-zone, you'll want to make sure your toner also includes something to balance oil production, like witch hazel. Witch hazel is particularly popular because it helps remove excess oil and constrict oversize pores without being too harsh. If you need something more serious to treat oily areas that are acne-prone, however, look for salicylic acid to deep clean your pores of any oil and dead skin that might be causing breakouts.
To keep your skin (and your wallet!) happy, here are five of the best affordable toners for combination skin that won't break the bank.
1. Best Hydrating Toner For Combination Skin
Dickinson’s Hydrating Toner
If fending off dry patches is your primary combo skin concern, try Dickinson's Hydrating Toner with rosewater. Like the beloved original version, this toner uses witch hazel, which naturally has a whole host of benefits including the ability to cleanse skin, reduce inflammation, and tighten pores. While witch hazel won't further dry out your skin, this Dickinson's formula includes hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to attract and lock in moisture so your skin stays smooth and flake-free.
"This toner is very smooth and refreshing," writes one Amazon reviewer who describes their skin as combination. "It applies easily with no burning, stinging, or tingling. This is very gentle and doesn't cause any reactions or irritations," they share, adding, "The usual oily areas aren't as shiny/greasy, and the dry areas are more moisturized."
2. Best Purifying Toner For Combination Skin
Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner
This alcohol-free and oil-free toner uses mild purifiers to get skin completely clean without disrupting its natural balance (aka, no tight feeling or stinging sensations here). It's also a hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic option, so the toner won't irritate more sensitive skin types or clog pores in areas where your skin tends to get congested and greasy.
Many Amazon reviewers point out that the Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner works particularly well for combination skin types. "This product is the best," notes one user, explaining, "It is moisturizing without being greasy, yet removes excess oils from my skin." Another fan of the toner, writes, "My skin is combination — some days it's oily or dry. This works for both, [and] it doesn't burn the skin at all."
3. Best Toner For Sensitive Combination Skin
Avène Gentle Toning Lotion
French pharmacy brand Avène is known for being suitable for even the most sensitive skin types (the brand did get their start treating patients with atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and burns, after all). Their Gentle Toning Lotion was designed to clean skin while also protecting it from external aggressors thanks to the protective film that natural silicates in the formula leave on skin. Though the formula does include a light fragrance, the toner is non-irritating in every other aspect, as it's hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and free of parabens, alcohol, and oil. Like all of their products, Avène's own thermal spring water from France, which has naturally restorative properties, ranks high on the ingredient list to deliver an extra soothing and skin-calming sensation.
4. Best Toner For Combination Skin Prone To Acne
Heritage Store Blemish Treatment Toner
If acne is a major concern for your skin, you need a toner that can ward off bacteria without leaving your skin completely dried out. Heritage Store's Blemish Treatment Toner uses 2 percent salicylic acid to treat blemishes while preventing new pimples from popping up thanks to its ability to eliminate oil and clear out any gunk trapped in your pores. While it's important to note that this toner does contain alcohol, it appears towards the bottom of the ingredient list, meaning there's only a small amount. Plus, Heritage Store, a popular natural and holistic brand, included ingredients like niacinamide and meadowfoam seed oil in the formula, which are soothing and help protect the skin against moisture loss.
5. Also Great: An Amazon-Favorite Toner That’s Great For All Skin Types
Thayers Rose Petal Toner
For a tried-and-true, can't-go-wrong choice, Thayers's Rose Petal Toner contains a mix of hydrating ingredients and natural astringents to keep skin smooth. Glycerin, rose water, and aloe leaf juice work to moisturize skin while also reducing signs of inflammation. Meanwhile, witch hazel and grapefruit seed extract regulate oil buildup while constricting pores for a temporarily tighter appearance.
The toner is also an overwhelming favorite on Amazon, with nearly 4,000 five-star reviews. Thayers gets praise for helping treat a variety of skin concerns, but many with combination skin credit the toner with keeping their skin balanced. "I've battled for so many years to get the right products for my combination skin," writes one reviewer. "This product does not over dry my skin or irritate it in any way. It leaves my skin very smooth and has diminished the size of my pores drastically."
Another fan of the toner, adds, "My cheeks get really dry, but my T-zone is very oily, [and] this product evened out my entire face. It smells great and leaves your skin feeling fresh and clean."
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