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7 best men's toners

Cotton pads at the ready, chaps...

Pippa Bailey
Friday 08 June 2018 17:18 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Far from those toners of the spritzing floral cucumber water variety that have very little – if any – effect on skin, we’ve been testing toners with science-backed ingredients that sweep away the dead skin cells that settle in fine lines and block pores to leave it clean and fresh. They also even out redness and speed up cell turnover (which slows with age), and reduce excess oil and breakouts. In short, you want one.

The liquid toners here are best applied on a cotton pad or cotton wool ball and wiped across the skin. We have included a couple of pre-soaked pad options for those who can’t be bothered with buying cotton pads (we feel you). Use them after you’ve washed your face with a cleanser, before you moisturise, once a day.

Clinique For Men Exfoliating Tonic: £18, Clinique

This is the star of Clinique’s For Men collection. It uses salicylic and citric acids to sweep away grease, grime and dead skin cells, and also contains witch hazel to treat and prevent spots, and hyaluronic acid to help the skin retain moisture. Use it pre-shave to prep the skin and release any ingrown hairs, or, if you’re not the clean-shave kind, keep your skin clear and flake-free.

Buy now

Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion: £18.50, Kiehl’s

We love this Sixties-era formula (rumour has it that Andy Warhol was a fan) for post-shave use. It contains camphor and menthol, which cool any irritation, and sodium PCA, which is a humectant, meaning it helps bind water to the skin – and wards off flakiness and dry patches.

Buy now

Zelens, PHA+ Bio-Peel Resurfacing Facial Pads: £65, John Lewis

If science is your thing, surgeon-founded Zelens is your brand. Its Resurfacing Facial Pads use four acids (polyhydroxy, lactic, citric and salicylic) to sweep away dead cell build-up, smooth rough texture and reduce scarring. They’re pretty strong so if you haven’t used acids on your skin before, start using three times a week and increase to daily use depending on how your skin feels.

Buy now

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution​, £6.80, The Ordinary

The Ordinary is sweeping the press for its focus on clinically proven ingredients with minimal fuss, and therefore extraordinarily low prices. Its glycolic toning solution is gentle, non-drying and alcohol free, but leaves skin smooth and improves clarity, and comes in gender-neutral minimalist packaging. Perfect for everyday use, on an everyday budget.

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Anthony Purifying Astringent Pads: £25, SpaceNK

US-based brand Anthony’s range is full of effective, minimal fuss and mid-priced products, from the usual cleansing bars and scrubs to the bestselling No Sweat Body Defense, designed to ‘keep it fresh and dry down-under’. Its astringent pads reduce shine, unclog pores and leave skin feeling fresh and awake. They also only add about 10 seconds to your getting ready routine, making them a pre-work favourite with our tester.

Buy now

L:A Bruket No. 099 Face Toner: £19, Mankind

It’s natural, it’s vegan, it’s Swedish, and gosh, those brown glass bottles look good in the bathroom – L:A Bruket is hitting all the right buttons right now. The brand’s toner cleanses without drying out skin (thanks to chamomile and bergamot), making it ideal for those with dry skin or when your skin is feeling a little sensitive post-sun or post-shave. The bottle comes with a spritz pump, but we recommend you still dispense it onto a cotton pad first so you aren’t losing product into the air.

Buy now

REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic: £25, Cult Beauty

We’ve yet to find a face that this new release from REN doesn’t suit (even sensitive skins). Lactic acid and willow bark extract clear away grime and dead skin and encourage cell turnover, while azelaic acid brightens and various fruit oils keep things moisturised and smelling fresh.

Buy now

The verdict:

You can’t go wrong with Clinique For Men’s Exfoliating Tonic: highly effective at brightening and polishing skin yet gentle enough for almost all skin types.

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