Last Updated on August 14, 2020 by Paola Diaz
K-beauty seems to be all the rave now.
Achieving a perfect glow is more than just a rising trend. Everyone’s need to get it is 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 for now.
Toners are all about restoring skin pH balance and ensuring effective cleansing. It’s important if you’re acne-prone or wear makeup all the time.
This is the beauty of Korean toners and I will share 10 of the best with you.
The Best Korean Toners
Missha 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 even if you have a rosacea issue, this is safe on your skin.
Your Skin Tone Solution
How this works is by the naturally fermented ingredients used to help even out 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 breaks out afterwards.
This may be attributed to the fact it specifically works for sensitive and 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 an alternative.
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.
The Missha Time Revolution Clear Toner will lighten 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 is Earth’s Recipe Energy Boosting Toner. It’s product best for skin refinement and gives you the Korean beauty you crave for.
- Evenly tones skin with naturally fermented ingredients
- 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.
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.
Poreless on a Budget
Pricewise, this toner is the cheapest in the list.
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. Buying from your local store would be a better option.
- Concentrates on tightening pores
- Controls excess oils without being drying
- Cooling effect
- 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 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.
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.
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 or sensitive skin.
- Decreases appearance of acne scars
- 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. Patrons appreciate the fact this line uses chemical exfoliation as opposed to a physical one, which makes it ideal for people with oily or sensitive skin.
AHA and BHA stand for alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid, respectively. Both are chemical exfoliants with different properties.
BHA 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Exfoliates gently
- Good for dry or combination skin
- 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 is also known as snow fungus because of its ice-like appearance. It 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. Interestingly, this toner is also cruelty free.
In addition, it has no parabens, mineral oil, or petrolatum. These common cosmetics ingredients are known to have harmful side effects.
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.
Best for All Skin Types
This toner is a cult favorite. It’s won many awards since it was released and remains part of many skincare lists.
The skin’s PH balance is vital when applying face products. A lower PH guarantees less chances of the products counteracting with each other. It also helps your skin absorb the benefits better.
This toner contains Phyto-Oligo which not only balances the skin’s PH, but also adds hydration. Dry patches are especially targeted by this ingredient.
A unique blend of plant extracts also nourish the skin. The best part is that they’re all safe enough for sensitive skin types so you don’t have to be worried about allergic reactions.
As mentioned, this has strong hydrating powers. And though it’s safe enough for all skin types, it might make already oily skin even oilier.
Best for Dull Skin
Just from its name, you can tell that this toner delivers great moisturizing power for dull skin. With regular use, you can expect a more vibrant and glowing face.
Hydrolyzed collagen is the main ingredient of this toner. Not only does it deliver and retain moisture on your skin, but it also makes it look plumper and healthier.
Rich but Lightweight
The texture of this toner is similar to an essence. It’s runnier than a gel but is also stickier than normal liquid astringents. This makes it easier to blend into the skin.
Also, despite its rich and nourishing ingredients, the formula still feels light on the skin.
Mess-free is a Myth
The packaging of this toner might cause you to make a mess though. It doesn’t have a built-in pump nor does it come with an applicator. The screw on cap and small nozzle makes it hard to control how much product you want to dispense.
Stay Tuned for Scent
This has a subtle fragrance that might turn you off if you don’t like scented skincare.
Best for Acne Scars and Textured Skin
Apart from the obvious hydrating effects hinted by its name, it delivers other benefits as well.
Your skin will be zen-ed out by the Fermented Lotus Water which is a key ingredient of this product. It improves overall texture and boosts skin cell renewal as well.
You can stop worrying too much about any deep acne scars or uneven texture since this ingredient will help smooth your face.
Strong Like Bamboo
Bamboo extract is also added to the formula which strengthens the skin’s barrier. This ensures that it can protect itself from external damage. It also enhances moisture retention.
Fermentation is Not Always Fun
Since this contains fermented Lotus Water, we don’t recommend it for those who have fungal acne. Fermented ingredients can aggravate Malassezia so it’s best to stay away if you don’t want allergic reactions.
Best for Combination Skin
Combination skin is always tricky to treat since it requires opposite ends of the skincare spectrum. Thankfully, Innisfree is here to save the day.
Tea for Your Skin
Jeju Green Tea extract is this product’s main ingredient. It has antioxidants that offer protection and nourishment to the skin. In this toner, it’s also infused with amino acids that help prolong the nourishment and moisture.
An ingredient called Betaine balances the skin’s moisture levels. It controls oil production and keeps water on the skin longer. It’s the perfect amino acid for caring for combination skin.
Many users have also commented about this toner being pricier than most. If you’re looking to save, then this might not be for you.
Best for Anti-aging
One of the best ways to combat the signs of aging is by amping up skin moisture. Luckily, snail mucin exists. This toner by Mizon uses snail slime to its advantage.
Snail mucin is a miracle ingredient that’s been used in K-beauty for the longest time. It moisturizes the skin and promotes skin cell regeneration.
Your face will look plumper, healthier, and brighter with regular use of this slimy ingredient. It’s perfect for preventing fine lines and wrinkles.
Bye Bye, Pores
Cocoa tree extract minimizes the appearance of large pores. Your skin will look smoother and silkier because of this ingredient. It’s also known to restore the PH balance of your skin.
Take Some Time
The only catch of this product is that it takes quite a while to sink in. Many users have complained that they have to wait a while for it to be fully absorbed. It can cause a delay in your skincare routine.
- Fights fine lines and wrinkles from forming
- Hydrates the skin
- Minimizes appearance of pores
- Slow absorption rate
What Does a Toner Do?
Toner is a crucial step in the skincare process. Skipping this decreases the effectiveness of other products you’re using. 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, we tend to look for cleansers with high alkaline. This counters mantle acidity and removes bacteria. This cleansing step alters the skin’s pH and allows higher oil production. The result? Dry skin.
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.
Getting Rid of Excess Gunk
Cleansers 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.
The next time you see a dark film on your cotton pads, thank your toner.
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. Most toners today, especially Korean toners, make way for a balanced skin pH level. They provide long term nourishment effects.
The Missha 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.
The most common method to apply toners is by using a cotton pad or cotton ball and simply sweeping the product over the face.
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 cream, moisturizer, 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.
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.
For acne-prone skin or 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 as well. It helps reduce the appearance of blemishes.
Dry Skin Type
When it comes to skin dryness, 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.
Apart from all the recommendations listed here, Klairs is also a good bet for micellar water.
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 are a step ahead of others.
The best Korean toners offer diverse properties with long-lasting benefits. Compared to most standard toners, Korean toners provide excellent value. The best Korean toners also 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!