Is it time to bin your toner...?
One in five women use them daily, but their harsh ingredients can damage your skin.
The alcohol in toners can trigger rosacea and acne breakouts.
'Cleanse, tone and moisturise' is a mantra for millions of women, sold by the beauty industry as a sure-fire way to fresh, glowing skin.
But while the benefits of cleansing and moisturising are obvious, part of the routine is simply habit for many women - and few question its benefits: toning.
Toning is meant to remove the last traces of dirt and grime, leaving skin dewy and pores closed. According to market intelligence firm Mintel, one in five of us uses toners daily.
But many women who religiously apply this classic skin care product don't realise toners can include harsh ingredients such as alcohol, which can dry out even the most oily skin, and parabens, which have been shown to induce allergic reactions.
"The alcohol found in toners can be a trigger for rosacea, increase the risk of breakouts in acne-prone skin or exacerbate sensitivity," reveals cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. This means that regular use of toners could leave the skin irritated, inflamed and vulnerable to environmental damage.
"Even if the toner doesn't harm your skin, its place in your beauty regime may be redundant.
"Today's cleansers are designed to rinse clean and don't disturb the skin's natural equilibrium in the same way, so there's no need to use a toner."
In fact, in the Forties the U.S. Food And Drug Administration disallowed many of the claims made for skin toners in America and said no astringent could improve skin elasticity or close pores. But elsewhere, the idea that they 'tightened pores' and 'stimulated circulation' persisted.
"Most toners actually do more harm than good because they disrupt the delicate balance of the skin, which can lead to symptoms such as dry, oily and cracked skin."
London-based consultant nurse practitioner of Plastic Surgery Associates UK, Constance Campion, agrees: "Although toners momentarily appear to make the skin seem cleaner and tighter, for the most part they are an expensive soup of water, colours, preservatives, alcohol and acids.
"Most toners actually do more harm than good because they disrupt the delicate balance of the skin, which can lead to symptoms such as dry, oily and cracked skin. This can increase the growth of bacteria, risking further breakouts in all skin types."