April 17, 2020

5 Best Korean Toners for Dry, Oily, and Acne Prone Skin


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K-beauty seems to be all the rave now.

Achieving a near perfect glow has become more than a rising trend close to obsession.

And while a 10-step skincare routine might help, quality comes first in beauty.

Let’s save all the other steps for another time and focus on toners.

Toners are all about restoring skin pH balance and ensuring effective cleansing. Especially if you’re acne-prone or wear makeup throughout the entire day.

So before your serums, creams, and clay masks, a near perfect glow means proper cleansing too.

This is the beauty of Korean toners and I will share 5 of the best with you.

The Best Korean Toners

Our Pick

Misha is one of the most trusted Korean brands for skin care in Korea, and their toner is one of the best Korean toners.

If you’re particularly sensitive to fragrance and irritants or naturally have sensitive skin, this is a great recommendation for you. And if you’re worried about your rosacea issue, we made sure it’s safe on your skin.

Your Skin Tone Solution

How this works is by the naturally fermented ingredients used to help even your skin tone, reduce skin irritation and optimize other hydrating ingredients found in the toner.

However, some users have reported breakouts after a first time-use. Others say their skin feels great on the first few days but then break out afterwards.

This may be attributed to the fact it specifically works for sensitive, oily skin. So if you have dry skin, this toner is not the best choice. So you may want to opt for the Earth’s Recipe Energy Boosting Toner as a perfect beauty alternative for you.

Brighten Up

Nevertheless, this toner will moisturize your skin. It does not leave the skin feeling too tight. Watch out for this in toners since a squeaky clean feeling indicates your skin is stripped of the natural oils your skin badly needs.

With religious use, the Missha Time Revolution Clear Toner will lighten your sunspots and acne scars because of its alpha and beta hydroxyl acids. Together, these remove dead skin cells to brighten your glow.

An alternative that works great for a dry skin type would be Earth’s Recipe Energy Boosting Toner. It’s been a favorite beauty product best for skin refinement and gives you the Korean beauty you crave for.


  • Affordable
  • Evenly tones skin with naturally fermented ingredients
  • Scent-free
  • Hydrating
  • Great for sensitive skin


  • Can be too drying for some

Best for Large Pores

We have a love-hate relationship with our pores. On one hand, we rely on their natural oils. On the other hand, we try to hide them as much as possible.

If you’re main concern is your pores, Etude House’s Wonder Pore Freshner is the best Korean toner for you.

Goodbye, Unnecessary Oils

Rather than your usual essential oil ingredient, this toner uses peppermint extract to give a cooling effect when applied. Essential oils can be irritating to some and can even cause dermatitis or burns. The peppermint extract is a milder and more soothing alternative.

While this toner is perfect for normal to combination or oily skin, it is not the best choice for a dry skin type because it does have a relatively strong drying effect. It’s also not advisable for those who have rosacea because users found it aggravates the problem.

Go Pore-less even on a Budget

Pricewise, this toner is the cheapest in the list. So if you’re on a budget but still desire a pore-less skin effect, this is a good beauty option to try.

There’s just one problem though. If you decide to order this toner online, the bottle does not come sealed. There have been a lot of complaints because the toner would arrive spilled and almost empty. So just to be safe, your local store would be a better option.


  • Affordable
  • Concentrates on tightening pores
  • Controls excess oils without being drying
  • Cooling effect
  • Fragrance-free
  • No animal ingredients


  • Not ideal for dry skin
  • Container does not come sealed
  • Not compatible with those who have rosacea

Best for Hydration

Koreans are known for their penchant of weird yet unique beauty ingredients. This toner, in particular, uses not only snail slime but also bee venom. Sounds sweet, right?

A Slick Solution

Many Korean beauty products contain snail slime in their cosmetics because of its ability to stimulate collagen formation and minimize free radical damages.

In fact, products using snail mucin (the more science-y term) have many patents since it is an active ingredient for treating dermatitis, burns, and wounds.

Buzzing Beauties

The Benton Snail Bee toner also uses bee venom and is an ingredient known to contain hyaluronidase, which is a genetically designed protein often used to treat dehydration.

You might not be too familiar with hyaluronidase, but you might have heard of it before as HA. This is used widely for its anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties.

Despite venom being in its name, bee venom is non-toxic as confirmed by the 2012 study by scientists Han, Lee, and Park.

Not for Sensitive Skin

Some users report this toner does not sit well with them and can causes rashes sometimes or a burning sensation. This may not be the best toner when it comes to oily/sensitive skin.

Despite some negative experiences, however, this toner has become the holy grail of most women and users often repurchase the toner, an indication of how good it is.


  • Decreases appearance of acne scars
  • Alcohol-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Stimulates collagen production
  • Very hydrating


  • Not for sensitive skin

Best for Acne-Prone Skin

The Daily Dot listed COSRX as the number 1 Korean skincare brand, citing the AHA/BHA line as its flagship product. Patrons appreciate the fact this line uses chemical exfoliation as opposed to a physical one, which makes it ideal for people with oily/ sensitive skin.

The Exfoliants

AHA and BHA stand for alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid, respectively. Both are chemical exfoliants with different properties.

Speaking of BHA, the BHA daily clean toner targets specifically oily skin, removes dead skin cells, and improves skin texture.

AHA is water-loving, meaning it dissolves in water. BHA, on the other hand, is oil-loving. From this information, you can easily tell that AHA is good for dry skin while BHA is the choice for those with oilier skin.

Remember water-loving properties make great moisturizers. Because moisture is directly related to adequate water contents, any hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid benefit those with drier skin types greatly.

While AHA works best for skin rejuvenation, it does not penetrate the skin as deeply as BHA. However, it can effectively remove the top layers of dead skin cells.

Because of its anti-bacterial properties, BHA is a useful ingredient for acne-prone and oily skin types.

Preliminary Breakouts

A common problem users have with using this toner is it causes breakouts a few days after they apply it. But if you give this toner a chance, your skin will improve as it gets used to the ingredients. So if you notice the same problem, give the toner a week or two to do its magic.

A Note on the Spray Bottle

It might be better to purchase this toner from a physical store because one of the most common problems with it is its defective cap.

It’s hard to dispense the toner without the spray cap on or if it’s broken. That’s why it’s advantageous to purchase this from a physical store to check the cap is in mint condition.


  • Exfoliates gently
  • Good for dry or combination skin
  • Unscented
  • Moisturizing
  • Contained in spray bottle for easier dispensing control


  • The cap is known to be defective
  • May cause breakouts as the skin adjusts to the toner

Best for Sensitive & Dry Skin

This is the best Korean toner for dry skin. It does not contain alcohol and contains a thick formula, to ensure proper hydration and ideal for parched skin.

A Snow-like Surprise

The tremella mushroom ingredient, also known as snow fungus with an ice-like appearance, restores pH balance and is famous in Chinese culture for its anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.

The high polysaccharide content also boosts skin hydrating properties and interestingly, this toner is also cruelty free. This means even with better beauty complexion, it does not come at the expense of animal cruelty.

In addition, it has no parabens, mineral oil, nor petrolatum. These common cosmetics ingredients are known to have harmful side effects.

Mineral oil, for example, has a tendency to aggravate acne problems. Petrolatum, on the other hand, may cause drying and itching.

Heavier Problems

Although the formula is highly moisturizing, the Earth’s Recipe Energy Boosting Toner has a thick and sticky consistency, which might not sit well with some people. Some users report it takes long for their skin to absorb the toner, which slows them down in the morning.

But overall, this toner is perfect for dry and delicate skin types and will work wonders for your skin.


  • Ultra-hydrating
  • Even out skin tone
  • Paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Perfect for dry and delicate skin


  • Heavy formula
  • Takes time for the skin to absorb

What Does a Toner Do?

A normal skincare routine is already tedious as it is, so why add a toner into the mix?

It turns out a toner is a crucial step in the skincare process. Skipping this decreases the effectiveness of other products you’re using. So if you’re serious about achieving a near-perfect glow, we recommend using a toner.

The Power of Hydrogen

The main purpose of a toner is to restore your skin’s normal pH balance after cleansing. To understand this, take note your skin has an acid mantle. The acid mantle acts as a barrier to protect our skin from bacteria and other contaminants.

For better clean skin, look for soaps and cleansers with high alkaline. This counters mantle acidity and remove bacteria. By doing so, a cleansing step alters the skin’s pH and allows higher oil production to compensate for the difference. The result? Dry and delicate skin.

A 2015 study conducted by Tojahn, et al., revealed how skin becomes more alkaline as it ages. Thus, there is a direct relationship between skin aging and alkalinity. To give a concrete example, a more alkaline pH causes issues such as eczema and acne.

Skin health jeopardizes pH balance. Ideally, skin pH should be acidic. The healthiest level is at 5.5, but anywhere from 4.8 to 6 is fine.

Keeping the pH level in check is why a toner is a must-have for your skincare routine. After cleansing, use a toner suitable for your skin type.

Getting Rid of Excess Gunk

Cleansers and soaps don’t clean the face completely. There will still be traces of dirt and makeup to take care of.

While there are toners that need finger or spray application, cotton pads maximize the effects. This helps remove any leftover dirt your cleanser was unable to wash away. This is easily evident by dirt seen on the pads after brushing it around your face.

The next time you see a dark film on your cotton pads, thank your toner. If it weren’t for this additional step, you’ll be sleeping with all that extra dirt on your face.

First Line of Nourishment

In the past, toners had a bad reputation. This was due to their high alcohol content and their tendency to cause dry. But most toners today, especially Korean toners, make way for a balanced skin pH level. They also provide long term nourishment effects. This is especially true for those formulated by Korean beauty brands.

The Misha Time Revolution Clear toner, for example, provide a brightening effect. Benton Snail Bee High Content Skin lessens the appearance of acne scars. And Earth’s Recipe Energy Boosting Toner hydrates the skin.

Because a toner is best applied after soap, it is the first line of nourishment after cleansing.



The most common method to apply toners is by using a cotton pad or cotton ball and simply sweeping the product over the face. As mentioned earlier, this can get rid of any excess dirt missed during cleansing.

However, you can also apply toners by spreading them over the face using the fingers.

It is highly encouraged to allow some time for the skin to absorb the toner. Others are more easily absorbed by the skin, depending on the heaviness of the formulation.

Once the toner is absorbed, you can then proceed with a moisturizer and sunscreen. However, if you’re following the Korean Beauty 10-step skincare routine, a step by step application is necessary. Starting with essence, emulsion, serum, sheet mask, eye creammoisturizer, and finally, sunscreen. Phew! Tired yet?


Once you have found the right toner for your skin type, it is safe for daily use. Most people use it twice a day— once in the morning and once before bed.

However, some toners can be irritating and are not fit for everyday use. This is especially true for those designed for acne-prone and oily skin. These kinds of toners are best used moderately, or every other day.

For dry skin, it is best to limit daily use to once a day.

When in doubt, it is best to opt for milder toners rather than allow your skin to suffer.

Things to Consider for Your Skin Type

In all regards to skincare, your skin type matters greatly because choosing the products you use depends largely on this.

Acne-Prone Skin

For acne-prone skin/oily skin, we recommend an alcohol-free toner. Because alcohol can dry the skin, this may lead to higher oil production, which often lead to breakouts. Toners with AHA such as COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner are reliable options.

We recommend toners with salicylic acid. This aids acne-prone/oily skin through its antibacterial components that help reduce the appearance of blemishes.

Dry Skin Type

When it comes to skin dryness, hydration is the most important factor to consider. Look for products with ingredients that help pull water to the skin. Hyaluronic acid provides high amounts of water meaning, better moisture. Great recommendations include, micellar water, rose water, or chamomile.

In case you weren’t aware, micellar water is a perfect option for anyone looking to avoid harsh ingredients. Rose water is a type of micellar water with the added fragrance of roses. So if you’re looking for an alternative great for traveling while maintaining the skin’s moisture barrier, micellar water is a great go-to. Or rose water if a rose fragrance suits you.

We’d also like to share how toners nowadays are not the drying products of yesteryear, so you’re options are wider. Apart from all the recommendations listed here, Klairs is also a good bet for micellar water. Many users have given much credit to Klairs products not just for dry skin types but even combination types.

Normal to Combination Skin

A combination skin type can be quite tricky to address because you’re dealing with both oily and dry areas. A toner that addresses the oiliness without stripping moisture works best for you.

People with combination skin types generally have problems in the T-zone area. Anti -acne is an ingredient you should look out for. A toner with anti-acne ingredients controls breakouts with ease. But also not too harsh as this may affect dry areas severely.

We recommend the Etude House Wonder Pore Freshner for normal to combination skin types.

The K-Beauty Edge

When it comes to skincare, Korea shows unmatched passion. This is why Korea skincare toners have many advantages and usually stay a step ahead of others. 

Korea promotes unique skin care. Hearing about the famous 10-step routine may seem exhausting but is definitely beneficial.

The best Korean toners offer diverse properties with long-lasting benefits. Compared to most standard toners, Korean toners provide excellent value. But beauty isn’t limited only to toners.

Sheet masks are valuable additions for your overall skin care. Korea has nearly an unlimited supply of this, which is expected from the largest beauty industry.

The best Korean toners improve the absorption process. This gives you more bang for your buck and of course, glowing beauty.

If you’ve been skipping this important step, you’re missing out on a ton. Choose your toner, grab a cotton pad, and wipe your skin troubles away!

Paola Diaz

Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.