The 3 Best Face Toners for Any Budget | BuzzFeed Reviews
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The Best Face Toners

We hope you love the products we recommend! We do a lot of research and testing before making our picks for the best thing to buy in each price-point. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change. For more info on how we choose products and make money, go here.

Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

$18

  • Cult-favorite skincare brand
  • Anti-aging benefits
  • Mildly exfoliates and resurfaces
Buying Options

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner

$44

  • Infused with real rose petals
  • Soothes and nourishes
  • Subtle floral fragrance
Buying Options

Shiseido Eudermine Revitalizing Essence

$57

  • J-beauty favorite
  • Boosts moisture
  • Lightweight and effective
Buying Options

When it comes to the world of skincare, you’ve got your must-haves and your nice-to-haves. Face wash? Essential. Moisturizer? Of course. Serum? You betcha. Toner, though? Optional, some say, or “extra credit” at best. But skip out on toner and you’re missing out on one of the best defenses against dull skin, pesky pores, and breakouts. To help give your skin the hydrating, clarifying care it deserves, we soaked up some cotton pads, swabbed our faces, and found the best facial toners money can buy.

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Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Starting from $18

Where to buy

The Details

Alcohol-free formula

Available in 8 or 16 ounces

Ideal for combination and dry skin

What / Who It's Best For

  • Skincare newbies who want to test the waters
  • People looking for an extra perk-up in the morning
  • Anyone in search for the Fountain of Youth

Why We Love It

We put several toners to the test — all easy on the face and the wallet — and Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid Toner quickly broke away from the pack. Yes, this bottle is at the higher end of our $ price range, but we say it’s worth the price. Even with a field that included budget favorites like Thayers’ Witch Hazel Toner, Mario Badescu eked out the win by giving our testers better results and a more refreshed feeling.  

Mario Badescu bottle with cotton pads

But before we go any further, allow us to clear the air. If you hold some not-so-fond memories of toners that lit your face on fire, like we do, rest easy knowing those days are over. Back, oh, as early as 10 years ago, toners contained an absurd amount of alcohol that left skin dry, irritated, and hot AF (and not in a good way). Most toners today are made with gentler ingredients and without alcohol, and focus on prepping the skin for moisture rather than stripping it of natural oils.

So the best way to think of toner is not as the painful stuff of teenage acne but as a primer for the grownup’s skincare routine. And we mean that literally. Not only does toner cleanse skin and refine pores, it also preps the skin to absorb other products, like serum and moisturizer. And, as you’ll see more notably with our $$ and $$ picks, toners are often packed with all sorts of extra skincare benefits, like natural hydrating and soothing ingredients.

Compared to one runner-up in this price category, Mario Badescu left our skin feeling consistently smoother, resulting in more testers reaching for it. In terms of application, a simple spout flips up at the top, making for a seamless transfer from plastic bottle to cotton pad. Nothing particularly fancy, but effective. After a simple swipe of the scentless blue fluid across the face and neck, our testers felt a significant difference throughout day, and, when applied at night, an even better feeling the morning after.

Mario Badescu spout

That’s all thanks to a primo ingredient list. With 2% glycolic acid — a highly effective and gentle exfoliator that absorbs quickly — the toner helps to reduce buildup and slough off dead cells, leaving skin clear and radiant. It also includes grapefruit extract to fight free radicals and aloe to soothe and protect.

We’ll admit that “glycolic acid” may sound like something you’d never want near your face, but trust. It definitely won’t sting (tingle, maybe), and it’s a well-known anti-ager that accelerates the skin-cell renewing process. Even our designated acne-prone tester gave the toner two thumbs up, saying their face looked “tighter, smoother, and brighter, with significantly fewer breakouts.” And they’re not alone! Many online reviews called this product a miracle salve for acne woes. Other testers echoed the sentiment, remarking on their improved skin tone and moisture.

One last caveat: there are toners on the market to address any skin concerns you could have. And while the Glycolic Acid Toner worked wonders for all of our testers, other formulas might work better for you. Luckily, Mario Badescu offers a full lineup of toners, from its good-for-all-skin-types Witch Hazel and Rosewater Toner to sensitive-skin favorite Aloe Vera Toner. Whatever you choose, Mario Badescu definitely has you (and your face) covered.

User Reviews

“This toner cleared up some very stubborn acne for me (and I am not a teenager by any means, but my teenage daughter uses it too!). I had a horrible breakout that would not go away, but once I introduced this product, my skin was completely cleared up in less than two weeks!!! I will never be without it.”
— Hoseirdoodles From Amazon
“I absolutely love this toner. I have tried tons of toners throughout my 39 years and this one just seems to tighten and brighten my skin. I bought it and then bought a different brand, and then realized I needed to come back to this one. I highly recommend it if you have combination to oily skin.”
— jford07 From Nordstrom
“One word: instant. Washed my face with my cleanser/scrub as normal, then applied the toner as instructed. The next morning, instant results! My skin is baby soft and dark spots visibly lighter. I'm in love! I will be using this in my daily routine from now on!”
— Richelle Webb From Amazon

Mario Badescu

Cult-favorite standby

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Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner

Starting from $44

Where to buy

What / Who It's Best For

  • Budding beauty experts
  • People who like to stop and smell the roses
  • Skincare pros looking to freshen up their routine

Why We Love It

Show of hands: Who here wouldn’t mind getting a delivery of fresh flowers every day? Because that’s what it feels like waking up to Fresh’s Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner. The formula consists of not one but FOUR rose derivatives. And what can we say? We’re suckers for the whole rose petals wistfully floating in the bottle. You’ve gotta admit, it’s a showstopper.

If you, however, are a certifiable monster who doesn’t enjoy the most classic of flowers, this toner may not not be for you.

Fresh Rose Water Facial Toner full view

Now, don’t confuse the rose theme with a gimmick. Rose botanicals have the goods to back it up. In fact, one of the first documented uses of roses as “self-care” was centuries ago, when Romans dropped petals in their water and wine to channel the OG Queen, the goddess Venus. Today, rose is touted for its antiinflammatory, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties, which is why you’ll see it in everything from lotion to facial spray to — you guessed it — toner.

So what are we working with?

First off, the Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner is alcohol-free. There’s rose fruit extract (to tone!), rosewater (to soothe!), rose flower oil (to nourish!), and, of course, those whole rose petals (to make you smell amazing!). Angelica leaf extract and hyaluronic acid also help to hydrate the skin. Basically what you have is a face toner that’s working gently from all angles to soothe, hydrate, and prep.

Fresh Rose Water Facial Toner with cotton pads

One of our testers’ favorite things about this toner is it makes us feel instantly refreshed, and it doesn’t take much. Perhaps it’s the rose-petal effect, but a few dabs into a cotton pad (or your fingers) and a gentle swipe over the face made our skin feel dewy and plump. And did we mention we love the scent? It’s a subtle floral scent — nothing overbearing — and blends naturally with just about any fragrance.

After just a few days of use, we felt a noticeable difference — so much so that one of our testers didn’t waste any time treating herself to a bottle! Fresh made converts out of us — and because of the mild, natural ingredients, it works well for all skin types.

So if you’ve got a little more to spend and you’re looking for a toner you’ll actually look forward to using, you can’t go wrong with the Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner.

User Reviews

“This toner is probably my favorite amongst the Fresh family that I've tried. It is the most gentle, and feels great on your face. My face felt super soft and hydrated afterward. It was also great in combination with other products.”
— Amanda V. From Fresh
“The formula, texture, smell, just everything is so amazing! It absorbs very good and does not leave a residue or tackiness on the skin and my face feels and looks very supple! I just wished the price wasn't soooo high! This item is definitely a splurge! If you can afford the luxury, go for it!”
— Lizzeth3 From Sephora
“In my life, I’ve used many different rosewaters by many different companies in search of the perfect rosewater. Fresh Rose Deep Hydration is the one. After many years, my search is over. The quality of the rosewater is exemplary, the scent is divine. The price is a bit higher than most, but the fact is you get what you pay for. I will indeed continue to purchase Fresh products because I owe it to my body.”
— jmlinares From Nordstrom

Fresh

A bouquet of flowers for your face

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Shiseido Eudermine Revitalizing Essence

Starting from $57

Where to buy

The Details

Available in 4.2 and 6.7 ounces

Ideal for all skin types

What / Who It's Best For

  • People who take #shelfies early and often
  • People seeking a lightweight formula
  • Skincare gurus who pull out all the stops

Why We Love It

We searched high and low to find the best splurge-worthy toners and then tested a group of all-stars to find the holy grail. Shiseido Eudermine Revitalizing Essence is it, people. This magic potion was everything we needed it to be: cleansing, hydrating, brightening, and beautiful to boot.

First things first: You’ll notice that Shiseido calls this thing an essence, not a toner. The instructions indicate that it’s meant to be used on a clean face to add hydration and soften the skin. Isn’t that precisely what a toner is supposed to do? Indeed it is, but the toner-versus essence-debate is really a distinction between Western and Asian skincare.

See, Asian skincare — particularly Korean beauty (K-beauty) and Japanese beauty (J-beauty) — plugged purifying, nonalcoholic toners long before the West got hip to them. They just so happen to call them essence. If you’re familiar with the 10-step Korean skincare regimen, then you know essence is a crucial step in balancing the skin’s pH levels. Western beauty brands took note, and what we now know as toners boast nearly the same benefits as essence.

Now that that’s settled…

Shiseido top view

Within the highest price bracket, this essence was an obvious winner among our testers. Everyone noted a slight change in pore size as well as overall skin tone. The product worked effectively to prime skin to receive moisture and then locked in that moisture for an extended period. It’s not surprising that Shiseido has perfected the art of essence, considering it’s been at it for more than a century. The Eudermine Revitalizing Toner is one of the oldest products in the Shiseido Rolodex, introduced in 1897.

It should be noted that, at this price range, the standard size (4.2 oz.) is half the size of our $ and $$ picks. So you’re actually paying more for less — which, yes, sounds silly. But this stuff is pretty powerful in its abilities to help retain moisture (we see you, hyaluronic acid!) and remove dead skin cells. It also manages to feel super-lightweight and didn’t leave any of our testers’ skin feeling caked on.

Shiseido bottle with cotton pads

An added benefit of using a toner is its makeup-removing capabilities. We noticed in our testing that Shiseido was especially effective at getting off every last smudge of our face paint and then some. Yes, we’re aware that toners are best applied to a clean face, but hey, sometimes a cleanse isn’t enough.

And who can forget the gorgeous packaging? There’s something about this bottle that says “you’ve got your sh*t together.” The sleek design is the perfect addition to any bathroom and even better for your bedside table.

For a toner that’ll make you feel gorgeous just opening the bottle each morning and night (and isn’t that what we’re all looking for in our skincare, anyway?), Shisheido Eudermine Revitalizing Essence is a no-brainer.

User Reviews

“If I could, I would fill a bathtub with this essence and bathe in it. Seriously, just get it. I use it as my first step before all my other skincare and it makes my product absorb faster and work better. Best. Stuff. Ever!”
— Bettina88 From Sephora
“This product has helped the hyperpigmentation on my face and the dry bumping skin on my arms, and has so improved the overall appearance and [suppleness] of my complexion. It smells lovely and lasts a long time. The bottle design is attractive on my vanity too.”
— Profcj From Shiseido
“LOVED the Asian-inspired red bottle — will look super fab in my window with a few flowers down the road. I had overused Retin-A and vitamin C on my skin and wanted things to calm down and heal internally with this revitalizing essence. In about two days my skin was back to glowing, and now this product is a regular.”
— BabyK111 From https://goo.gl/vWFFnB
“I started using this product in January and now I won't be without it. My skin is so soft and looks wonderful.”
— Jane2009 From Sephora

Shiseido

J-beauty legend

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