Can I Leave Toner on My Face Overnight?

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Anyone who has ever worked in the beauty industry will tell you that beauty is rarely ever simple. When it comes to skincare, this is doubly true. Even if you’re using the right products, things can go terribly wrong if you pick the wrong item to leave on overnight. 

Can you leave the toner on your face overnight? If you’re using an alcohol-free toner, leaving it on overnight is perfectly fine. However, in order to get the most out of your toner’s power, it’s best to have a set routine involving a secondary toner and moisturizer. 

Getting your skin to glow and clear up isn’t always easy. Toner can be an exceptional tool to promote skin health and make the most of your skincare routine. This guide will explain what you need to know about toner, overnight use, and how to max out your skincare perks. 

Can I Leave Toner on My Face Overnight?

The short answer is yes since it’s designed to be left on your skin. However, it’s worth pointing out that just leaving it on overnight doesn’t do much. To get the full benefits of toner use, you’re going to need to do a little more than just leave it on.

Using toner correctly is crucial to your skincare regimen. In order for it to work its magic, you need to make sure you’re applying it correctly and are working with a toner suitable for your skin type. 

What Does Toner Do?

When it comes to skincare products, few are as misunderstood as a toner. Many people, even beauty gurus, don’t really know what toner is for. Toner does a wide variety of different things, including the following:

  • Removes leftover dirt and makeup. Regular cleansing can’t get all the grit and grime in our pores, even with the help of a powerful cleanser. Toner gently removes that excess dirt, making it a great way to improve your skin quality.  
  • Balances skin pH levels. The pH of your skin can make or break your ability to prevent acne or keep your skin moisturized. According to a study that was published by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science reported that the ideal pH level for healthy skin is below 5. When your skin pH is high your skin becomes dry and you may even get eczema.
  • It helps moisturizers work. The wetness of toner helps keep pores open, which helps moisturizers get absorbed into your skin.
  • Keeps skin feeling refreshed. Did you ever notice how refreshing it is to feel the chilly sprits of toner on your face? This little perk is worth talking about, if only for that reason. It’s like a cup of coffee for your skin.

How to Use Toners to Get Clear Skin

Skin Toner Products for people with large pores:

REN Ready Steady Glow AHA Tonic

Krave Kale-lalu-yAHA Exfoliating Toner

Pixi Glow Tonic

Thavers Witch Hazel Toner

Skin Toner Products for people with dull skin:

The Ordinary Lactic Acid + Hyaluronic Acid Toner

Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner

Skin Toner Products for people with Oily Skin:

Innisfree Bija Blemish Care Toner

Fresh Herb Calendula Tincture Toner

Skin Toner Products for people with Dry Skin:

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Toner

Kiehl’s Calendula Extract Toner

What Kind of Toner Should I Buy?

This all depends on your skin tone and what you’re looking to do with your toner. You can buy one gentle toner to help lock in moisture, or you can buy a clearing toner plus a moisturizing toner to work with it. 

What Are Clearing Toners? 

Clearing toners are also known as exfoliating toners, and they are mostly focused on clearing up your skin. These toners tend to have ingredients like the ones below:

  • Tea Tree Oil. This natural ingredient is a known astringent and works well for people who have serious acne problems. There is evidence that Tea Tree Oil is an effective way to treat mild to moderate acne.
  • Salicylic Acid. This is the main ingredient in multiple skincare products and has become a staple among acne-fighting ingredients. 
  • Witch Hazel. Witch hazel was used as a toner for ages. It’s a natural product that still remains popular today. 

Clearing toners are best used by people who have acne problems. Since these products tend to have a drying effect on the skin, it’s best to limit your use of them to once a day if you choose to buy them.

What Are Moisturizing Toners?

Moisturizing toners are beauty products that work to add an extra pop of moisture to your skin or to just keep your skin looking extra dewy. They are safe (and recommended) for all skin types. Moisturizing toners tend to have ingredients like:

  • Rosewater. Rosewater is the typical go-to option for people who prefer a natural skincare routine. 
  • Neroli. Also known as orange blossom water, this heavenly-smelling liquid also acts as a natural toner.
  • Hyaluronic Acid. Don’t get frightened by the name! Hyaluronic acid, also known as HLA, is a fatty acid that is used to help lock in moisture. It’s so effective; many dermal fillers use HLA to help people retain a youthful glow. According to the Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Hyaluronic Acid was associated with the reduction of wrinkle depth on your skin.

Everyone should have an alcohol-free, moisture based skin toner as part of their self-care routine. It’s a must if you want to keep your looks youthful and your skin feeling supple.

What About General Toners?

Some toners don’t have a specific need or use in mind. That’s totally alright. Many toners are formulated to offer up a mix of both cleansing and moisturizing properties. As long as you have a toner that suits your needs, you should be good to go.

Could I Just Use Micellar Water Instead?

Believe it or not, micellar water is similar to toner. So your probably wondering what is micellar water. Its made from micelles which are cleansing oil molecules suspended in soft water. It is designed to be a gentle cleanser and attracts dirt and also draws out impurities in on the skin without drying out your skin. However, It’s not meant to be a pH balancer in the same way that toner is. 

That being said, its gentle use can make it a decent toner for people who just need extra cleaning. Though it’s not that common to see, they can be used interchangeably if you don’t have issues regarding pH balance.

While you might be able to use them interchangeably, micellar water and toner work best together. People who have susceptible skin should strongly consider using micellar water instead of cleanser, then use a toner afterward.

What Should I Look for in a Toner?

In the past, toners were just toners. These days, you can find toners with ingredients that are specifically made for skin conditions. Some of the more popular ingredients you can look for include:

  • Rosewater, HLA, Neroli, or Vitamin E. These ingredients are typically added to toners as a way to increase the moisturizing abilities of a toner. If you have dry skin or want to keep your skin dewy, these additives are good starts. You can find a great selection and highly rated skin toners with rosewater at Amazon.
  • Chamomile, Aloe Vera, or Lavender. These two ingredients are most commonly added to toners as a way to help soothe irritated skin. If you have facial redness, these ingredients are good choices. You find a wide range of skin toners with chamomile on Amazon.
  • Tea Tree Oil, Alcohol, Witch Hazel, or Salicylic Acid. These four ingredients are known for being used to cleanse the skin, control oil, and fight acne. If you have sensitive skin, use toners with these ingredients sparingly. Selection of skin toners with tea tree oil on Amazon.
  • Stem Cells, Olive Oil, or Resveratrol. These ingredients are often dropped into toners to help with anti-aging matters. Stem cell technology is the latest ingredient in skincare products and Amazon has a huge selection of skincare products that include stem cells and you can check them out here.

What Ingredients Should Be Avoided in Toner?

Much like there are certain ingredients you should seek out, there will be certain ingredients that just don’t work well with certain skin types. These include:

  • Alcohol. Be careful with using alcohol on your face! It’s known to dry out the skin and irritate sensitive parts of a person’s skin with heavy use. 
  • Faux Fragrances. Many toners naturally have a pleasant, refreshing smell to them. They don’t need any extra fragrance. Toners that contain perfumes are high in alcohol content, which can irritate your skin. 
  • Parabens. Parabens occasionally are added to toners, but they are known to cause damage to a person’s skin. They’re considered to be a potential carcinogen.
  • High Concentrations of Salicylic Acid. A little bit of salicylic acid is fine, but too much can cause irritation to sensitive skin. This is doubly true if you have a cleanser that has salicylic acid in it as well. 
  • High Concentrations of Benzoyl Peroxide. The problem with benzoyl peroxide is similar to the problem of having too much salicylic acid. While this can be alright in cleansers, too much in a toner can result in clinical dry skin. 

It’s also worth mentioning that people who have allergies should always keep an eye out for ingredients they’re allergic to. If you are allergy-prone and are unsure of a toner’s safety, do a spot test before you apply it fully. 

How Much Should I Spend on Toner?

Among many groups of people, there’s a subtle belief that spending more on skincare products will always yield better results. This is just not true. You can find great toners under $10 at any drugstore.

Truthfully, you don’t even have to buy toner if you don’t want to. If you are a crafty person, you can also make your own toner using rosewater, green tea, and other similar ingredients. 

How to Use Toner Properly

The hardest part about toner use is knowing how and when to use it. Most skincare professionals suggest using clearing toners once daily (at night) and using moisturizing toners twice a day. 

So, at what point do you use your toner during your routine? Here’s how to use it according to the gurus:

  1. Start by cleaning your face. You should know this routine by now, right? Start by removing your makeup using a wipe. Next, wet your face, use a gentle cleanser, and get rid of all the gunk on your face. Rinse your face off with water. 
  2. Gently pat your face (mostly) dry using a soft, clean towel. When drying your face, try not to dry it completely. You should still have a little moisture left, but it shouldn’t be dripping wet. 
  3. Grab your toners. If you’re just using a moisturizing toner, start with that one. If you are using a clearing toner, start with that one, then double up with a moisturizing toner right after. 
  4. If you aren’t using a spray-on toner, place a quarter-sized dollop of toner into your palm and gently pat it onto your face. This is called the Korean patting method by many professionals. To get a little more circulation in your face, try tapping your face with light, upward strokes.
  5. If you are using a spray-on toner, close your eyes and spray away. You don’t want to get toner in your eyes! It’s important to note that you shouldn’t try to dab it on with a cotton ball, as this could soak up most of the toner you just applied.
  6. If you prefer to pat it on, use several spritzes, and work it into your skin via the “Korean patting” technique. This is often the better choice, but many people prefer the easy route,
  7. If you insist on using a cotton ball, apply extra toner. This might help even out the loss.
  8. While your skin is still damp from the toner, add your moisturizer. The toner should help your moisturizer work its way into your skin more effectively. 
  9. If you feel like doing so, finish off your skincare routine with a serum. Serums are excellent for locking in extra moisture from your toner and also reducing wrinkles.

Why Do You Need to Pat It In?

At first, glance, patting in your toner seems a little strange. However, there’s a good reason for it. The gentle pats on your skin help increase blood flow to your face, which makes your pores open up. This, in turn, helps make your toner more effective. 

Why Shouldn’t You Rinse-Off Toner?

Toner was never meant to be rinsed off because it’s supposed to act as a final “rinse” after you cleanse your face. It’s best to think of toner as an upgraded version of water. Toner can only work if it’s left to sink into your skin. Rinsing it away is just a waste of time and money.

Where Should You Apply Toner?

Toner isn’t a spot treatment. It’s meant to be liberally applied to your face. Some skincare experts also suggest using toner on your neck, shoulders, and decolletage. As a rule of thumb, it can be used everywhere that you have breakouts or dry skin. 

Can Toner Be Used as a Cleanser Substitute?

This is a pretty bad assumption to make. Cleanser and toner are two different products with very different purposes. Here’s why you can’t really use a toner as a cleanser and expect to see good results:

  • The cleanser is far more powerful than toner. Facial cleansers are designed to get rid of the majority of grime and dead skin cells off your face. Toner is meant to act as a tool to pick up any leftover mess. It’s like comparing raking leaves to picking up a leaf on your lawn. A rake (the cleanser) will always be more effective.
  • Toner isn’t just about cleaning. It’s meant to work as a pH balancer, and as a way to help moisturizer absorb into your skin with ease. The cleanser doesn’t balance pH levels. In fact, some cleansers are known for throwing pH levels off.
  • You need to exfoliate in order to keep your skin looking good. Toner can occasionally have some extremely mild exfoliation abilities, but it’s not something you should count on it doing. Cleanser, on the other hand, typically works to exfoliate. 
  • Regardless of where you live or what you do, you still need to clean your face. Washing your face is one of the most basic aspects of self-care. You can’t skip it without seeing your skin’s quality plummet. Toner alone isn’t enough to give your face the full cleaning it needs. 

Is It Possible to Overuse Toner?

Much like with all skincare products, there are times when overusing toner will cause irritation. However, it’s important to understand what’s going on. Toner should be used as a boost to a skin cleansing routine. If you’re overusing it, chances are you’re also cleaning your skin too much.

Heavy cleaning will dry out and irritate your skin, even if you have fairly durable skin. It’s best to limit your toner use to once or twice a day, depending on your sensitivity and the strength of the toner.

When Is It Not Okay to Leave Toner Overnight?

For the most part, toner is perfectly fine to leave on your face overnight. However, there is one situation where you might want to remove toner preemptively. If you notice that your skin feels irritated or worse, if you feel it burning, it’s best to wipe it off or rinse it off. 

It’s worth noting that toner should never burn or irritate your skin. Rather, it’s meant to be a calming portion of your daily skincare routine. If it’s burning, your skin is too sensitive to use that type of toner, and you should toss it. 


The overall verdict on toner use is that you absolutely should be able to leave it on overnight. In order for it to work, it needs to be applied and used correctly. Rinsing away the toner on your face will negate all the perks it offers. 

The only time that you should rise off your toner or wipe it away is if you have a toner that irritated your skin. Should that ever occur, you need to switch to a gentler toner that works with your skin type and toss away the toner that irritated your skin in the first place.