Toner is a controversial skincare product. While some dermatologists will tell you it’s not necessary, others sing its praises as an important part of the cleansing and treatment process. No one in the US seems to agree, but in the world of K-Beauty toner pads, which are pre-soaked in product, are a big deal. step in the routine.
Formulated to balance skin’s pH and provide hydration, these pre-soaked cotton pads are typically grainy on one side to gently buff skin and remove remaining impurities, and smooth on the other to replenish moisture right after cleansing. “Unlike liquid toners, toner pads still belong partly in the cleansing part of the skincare routine, given their exfoliating benefits,” says Anna Kang, founder and CEO of the K-beauty brand. YADAH. “That extra step between cleansing and nourishing the skin with serums and creams is important to remove residue from the face and prepare its surface to really absorb all the ingredients of the products that follow.”
Versatile and effective, toner pads have recently seen a resurgence in popularity as the community shifts towards more convenient skin care. “There’s no need to soak a cotton ball before applying directly to the face, no need to measure and pour an appropriate amount of toner — mess-free application is quick and easy,” says Kang. Other practical benefits include easy portability, less risk of contamination from an open bottle or accidental spills.
Toner pads are also formulated to impart a host of secondary benefits such as brightening, soothing and pore reduction, all of which help prepare skin for makeup application, points out Alicia Yoonfounder and CEO of Peach & Lily. “The key is to include toner pads suited to your skin type and needs: for extra hydration, look for humectants like hyaluronic acid Or glycerin. For soothing benefits, look for soothing ingredients like cica or pantheons. For resurfacing benefits, look for acids like AHA or BHA, and for brightening benefits, look for ingredients like vitamin C or niacinamide.”
For instant hydration or a quick pick-me-up, these strategically thin toner pads also make great impromptu face packs when placed for three to five minutes on areas that need extra care. Also, if you’re not a fan of sticky feel of the primerespecially in the heat of summer, nourishing the skin by applying toner pads right before makeup application is rather a favored practice among the K-beauty community.
“Because hydrating toners can help prepare the skin for increased absorption of the next steps while moisturizing, you may notice your skincare is better absorbed and your skin feels more plump and hydrated, which is great for a less cakey, second-skin-like foundation application,” Yoon says. “Hydrated skin is the best canvas for makeup.”
Both Kang and Yoon note that toner pads aren’t mutually exclusive with primers, and using both together, depending on your skin’s needs, can still help achieve flawless makeup application. But incorporating toner pads into your skincare routine offers additional long-term benefits. “Although makeup bases are usually not nourishing at all and silicone-based, they create a temporary, smooth canvas for makeup application and protect the skin from dirt and sweat to improve makeup longevity, but there is a high risk of clogged pores and breakouts,” Kang says. “Meanwhile, toner pads are designed to nourish and balance the skin, and achieve a long-lasting flawless look.”
Here are some of the hottest toner pads beauty lovers in Korea are using to prep their skin for makeup application right now
Abib, Sedum Hyaluron Pad Moisturizing Touch — $29.00
Also known as stringy stonecrop or golden moss, the succulent sedum sarmentosum is used in skincare products as a humectant to draw moisture into the skin. Combined with eight different types of hyaluronic acids, these toning pads provide intense hydration.
SKIN1004, Madagascan Centella Quick Soothing Cushion — $21.00
Recognized for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, centella asiatica is best suited for sensitive skin. Exceptionally soothing, these toning pads soothe skin by reducing redness, irritation and inflammation, while panthenol provides deep hydration.
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