Do I Need to Use a Serum and Toner Daily?

Looking at skincare products
Creative RF/Dan Dalton/GettyImages

If you're wondering whether using a toner or serum every day is the right thing to do, you're not alone. Toners versus serums as a daily topical is a confusing topic, and heading to your local beauty store may only make matters worse. They are in the business of selling products—they're not in the advice business. Luckily for you, I am.

Let's Start With Toners 

A toner is a product that removes oil and traces of dirt and grime from your face.

They are most helpful, and necessary, for people with oily or acne-prone skin, or for people who want extra cleansing after wearing makeup or other heavy skin products such as sunscreen.

You use a toner after you wash your face and before you moisturize. You should apply it with a cotton ball or cotton pad. There are some toners that you can spray directly on your face. There are many different toners that help the different kinds of skin types. For instance, there are toners for oily skin (which get rid of excess oil), toners for dry skin (which add moisture to the skin), and toners for sensitive skin (which can soothe irritated skin). There are also facial mists and waters that hydrate and soothe your skin and can be used both under and over makeup.

Why People Started Using Toners

I've found that it's not necessary to use toners daily. In fact, there's a consensus among experts that toners are a waste of time and money if you're already using a product that does a good job of cleaning your face.

It was commonly thought in the past that you needed a toner to change the pH of your skin after cleansing, but cleansers have come a long way and no longer dramatically harm the pH balance of the skin. 

Personally, I use a toner because I have combination skin, and when I use a toner, I feel my pores look smaller, and my skin gets a little extra pampering.

But, it's also a habit for me. For dry skin, I think you can easily skip the toner if you're using a good face wash.

Product Picks:

What Serums Do

If you look at an explanation of moisturizers versus serums, you'll see that serums are thinner liquids that usually have active ingredients that penetrate into the skin. They are used directly on the skin after cleansing and toning but before moisturizer and sunscreen. A little bit of serum goes a long way.

Different Serums for Different Conditions

Often, serums are good options for treating specific skin care problems. There are serums for brightening treatments, anti-aging treatments, and sometimes acne treatments. Serums are also appropriate if you have very oily skin because you can use them instead of a traditional moisturizer. Some serums are simply used for extra hydration for dry skin during the winter. Other serums, such as Vitamin C serums, can be used by any skin type because they offer antioxidant protection that every skin type needs.

Product Picks:

Bottom Line

It's never too early to start taking care of your skin. I highly recommend a weekly face exfoliator to get rid of the dead cells and daily use of a moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or higher. You can add on extra skin care steps as you desire, such as masks or other treatment products once a week or so.