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The 5 Best Toners For Oily Skin

Though different toners do different jobs, toners designed for oily skin primarily work to soak up excess sebum, unclog pores, and often, provide some surface-level exfoliation as well. According to board-certified dermatologist Jennifer Chwalek, M.D., when shopping for the best toners for oily skin, look for formulas that contain salicylic acid (essential for unclogging those pesky pores) and/or witch hazel to help with excess oil production. Additionally, she suggests watching out for toners with essential oils and vitamin E which may aggravate acne and oily-prone skin. Alcohol can be a tricky ingredient, too. On one hand, it can help reduce excess oil (helpful when you have oily skin!), but it can be drying when overused. "The key is to look for toners that also have other soothing ingredients that offset any potential dryness from the alcohol component," Dr. Chwalek tells Bustle. Seek out toners that contains humectants like glycerin, or ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile to soothe and rehydrate your skin.

Some other toning tips? Don't user toner multiple times a day as a way to control oil production, as it may just dry out and irritate your skin. Instead, apply your toner once in the morning and once at night with a cotton pad, or “take a small amount on your fingertips and gently tap it directly onto the skin and work it into the skin. After the toner is applied, when the skin is still moist, you should apply any serums or moisturizers since this will enhance absorption,” Dr. Chwalek says.

With that in mind, scroll on to shop five of the best toners for oily skin, including two picks from Dr. Chwalek.

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1. The Derm's Pick

This toner from La Roche-Posay's Effaclar line, which was specifically designed for oily skin, contains both lipo-hydroxy acid and salicylic acid to help tighten congested pores and promote smoother skin. Though there is some alcohol in it, it also contains the humectant glycerin to balance out the alcohol's potentially drying effects.

If you like the astringent and oil-absorbing properties of toners with alcohol, but are concerned about over-drying your skin, the doctor says you can limit your toner use to once a day in the morning, or switch to a gentle toner in the evening instead.

2. Another Pick From The Derm

Dr. Chwalek also recommends this Avène Cleanance MAT toner for people with oily skin. "It has some astringent properties [including alcohol] but is still gentle enough to use regularly. It contains ingredients like monolaurin and silica, which help to regulate oil, while still having soothing qualities, due to the Avène thermal spring water and zinc gluconate [in the formula]."

3. The Best Toner For Oily, Sensitive Skin

This unscented toner from Korean beauty brand Klairs is free of both alcohol and essential oils, making it a great choice for people with sensitive, reaction-prone skin. In here, you'll find several soothing and hydrating ingredients, like centalla asiatica, aloe, panthenol, and sodium hyaluronate, so it works to restore moisture and soften skin as it whisks away any leftover makeup, oil, and other impurities that your cleanser didn't quite catch.

4. The Best Toner For Oily, Uneven Skin

Another fragrance-free, alcohol-free pick, this PCA SKIN Smoothing Toner uses lactic acid to promote a smoother, more even-looking (and feeling) complexion. Other key ingredients include moisture-attracting glycerin and soothing aloe, while a blend of several botanicals work to provide even more calming and pore-tightening benefits.

If you're using an alcohol-based toner in the morning (like the Effaclar Astringent Face Toner or Eau Thermale Avene Cleanance MAT), this might be a nice evening option.

5. The Best 2-in-1 Toner & Serum For Oily Skin

Get two products for the price of one (and cut down on the steps in your routine) with this Bliss Clarifying Toner + Serum. The formula contains salicylic acid to help unclog pores, witch hazel for for its astringent benefits, zinc PCA to help control excess oil production, and niacinamide, an incredible ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties and so many skin care benefits, which include tightening pores. The acne-fighting formula is balanced out by soothing and healing ingredients like allantoin and centella asiatica, so it shouldn't totally dry out or irritate your skin. Use it after cleansing and before moisturizer.


Jennifer Chwalek, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology