These top picks prep your face and improve your complexion in one step.

By Erica Metzger
February 02, 2021
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This is part of our weekly series Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, and explore new techniques IRL.

I ran out of cotton balls about a month ago, but my toner game is still going strong. That's because the new generation of toners are more about what they give rather than what they strip away. "No longer strictly astringents, toners deliver active ingredients that can maximize your routine," says Miami-based dermatologist Alicia Barba, M.D. I pat mine on with my fingertips and alternate between formulas to get light hydration, brightening, or exfoliation. This step also primes skin for moisturizer, which is more potent when applied to damp skin. Here are five options (at affordable prices) for every skin concern.

Credit: Courtesy of Renée Rouleau

Wake up with an unsighlty blemish? Use this toner that's made with AHAs and BHAs to gently lift away impurities. I love that the blend of antibacterial oils and exfoliants works works hard to minimize my enlarged pores.

Buy It: Renée Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Toner ($42, Renée Rouleau)

Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

Glycolic acid treatments can sting your wallet (and your face), so I always go back to this affordable, aloe-infused option. It works well to slough off my dead skin and make my complexion look super glowy without makeup

Buy It: Pixi Glow Tonic ($18, Ulta)

Credit: Courtesy of DermStore

Red, cranky skin? Antioxidants and amino acids nourish skin and help it recover from irritation. It's safe to use morning and night without irritation and a must-have product for sensitive skin.

Buy It: EltaMD Skin Recovery Toner ($31, DermStore)

Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

This gentle formula uses witch hazel to reduce oil and brightening ingredients to help even out acne scars. Use it at night after cleansing to get rid of all your makeup and impurities.

Buy It: Urban Skin Rx Witch Hazel Brightening & pH Balancing Toner ($17, Ulta)

Credit: Courtesy of Target

Get a dose of dewiness with this toner that will be a savior for dry skin. (Especially in the winter.) It pairs hyaluronic acid and hydrating plant-based collagen.

Buy It: Pacifica Vegan Collagen Hydrating Milk Tonic ($16, Target)


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