Face toners might have more history behind them than the average modern-day skin-care product, enough that iterations from the 1930s can be found in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Like most artifacts still in use today, they’ve evolved over time to become more innovative and targeted, with options that now promise to treat a variety of skin concerns.
But first, a bit of backstory. “Originally, toners were developed to accomplish two primary goals: balance the skin’s pH and remove excess residue after using more archaic cleansers,” says dermatologist Kathleen Viscusi, M.D., who practices in Marietta, Georgia. Accomplished with alcohols and astringents, that often led to tight, overly dry skin—and, not surprisingly, a generations of people wary of the stuff.
Fortunately, as cleansers have become much more sophisticated, there is less of a need for such potentially harsh follow-ups, Viscusi adds. That has led to something of a toner renaissance: benefits without the burn.?