best toners for sensitive skin

Ever wondered what are the best toners for sensitive skin? If you’re asking me (and if you’re here you are), if you have sensitive skin, you’re probably better off without toner. The more products you add to your skincare routine, the more chances something will irritate your skin. Ugh. The first products to avoid are those your skin does NOT need (no matter what brands tell you, your skin does not need that many products).

Having said that, there are a handful of toners out there that can calm down irritations, reduce redness, and soothe your skin’s tantrums. You just need to know where to look. So, if the idea of skipping a toner is enough to make you break out in a rash, here are the best toners for sensitive skin (for when you feel like your skin needs the extra TLC):

What To Look For In A Toner For Sensitive Skin

Shopping for a toner for sensitive skin, but not quite sure how to know if a product is a good or will trigger a bad reaction? Here’s what you need to look for in a toner for sensitive skin:

  • Soothing ingredients: Look for soothing ingredients that help calm down redness and irritations. Some of my favourites include bisabolol (the ingredient that gives chamomile its soothing properties), allantoin, aloe vera, Centella Asiatica, green tea (also has antioxidant properties) and colloidal oatmeal (yes, oats).
  • Fragrance-free: Fragrance is the most irritating ingredient in skincare. This one ingredient is made up of hundreds of compounds, some of which are common allergens. If a product irritates your skin, chances are fragrance is to blame. FYI, this includes essential oils, too. The compounds that make essential oils smell so good can also irritate sensitive skin.
  • No irritants: Fragrance isn’t the only thing that can irritate sensitive skin. Alcohol and witch hazel (which is usually distill with alcohol) can be irritating for your skin type. Menthol, fragrant essential oils and anything that smells too good can also trigger an allergic reaction. If you know you’re allergic to anything else, check the labels so you can stay away from that too.
  • Fewer ingredients: As a rule, the fewer ingredient a toner contains, the less likely you’re going to experience a negative reaction.


What can toners for sensitive skin do?

“Toners are skincare products that have the consistency of water,” Joshua Zeichner, the director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York says. “Today’s toners contain a variety of soothing, brightening, and anti-aging ingredients.” Depending on the ingredients they contain, they can hydrate skin, soothe irritations, and even provide some anti-aging properties.

What can’t toners for sensitive skin do?

Toners can’t reduce the wrinkles you have or make you look 10 years younger. They also can’t purify or detoxify skin.

How often can you use a toner for sensitive skin?

You can use a toner for sensitive skin up to twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. The only exception? If it’s an exfoliating toner, use it no more than two nights a week.

How do I use a toner in my skincare routine?

A toner is always the second step of your skincare routine, right after cleansing.

Are toners and astringents the same?

While toners and astringents are both the second step after cleansing and are designed to manage both irritation and oiliness, astringents are alcohol-based and can be drying. The new generation of modern toners is water-based and hydrating.

What Are The Best Toners For Sensitive Skin?

Paula’s Choice Calm Nourishing Milky Toner ($24.00)

This lightweight, non-greasy toner is loaded with humectants, a group of ingredients that draws water from the air into your skin to increase its moisture level and keep it soft and supple for hours. But that’s not what makes this toner special. It’s also loaded with panthenol, allantoin, and natural extracts that calm down redness and irritations. Fragrance-free, it’s suitable for all skin types. Whatever you’re dealing with, it leaves your skin soft, soothed, and hydrated.

Available at: Cult Beauty, Paula’s Choice, Sephora and SpaceNK

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Panthenol, and Allantoin.

Benefits: Hydrates and soothes skin.

Cons: It doesn’t contain as many soothing ingredients as the old version did.

Fragrance-free: Yes.

Skin type: All skin types, including sensitive.

Related: 9 Ingredients To Soothe Irritated And Sensitive Skin

Does your skin throw a tantrum every time you use a new skincare product? Download your FREE “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheatsheet to find out the most common irritants in skincare you need to avoid:

Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner ($16.00)

A simple, no-frills toner loaded with aloe vera. Made up of 99.5% water and 0.5% of vitamins, amino acids, polysaccharides, and phytosterols, Aloe Vera provides a refreshing hydrates boost to your skin. You can use it daily to keep skin calm and soothe irritation, and it’s also good in case of sunburns or unexpected rashes. Gentle, it leaves skin feeling soft and clean, but won’t remove makeup. All skin types can use it.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Blue Mercury, Mario Badescu, Nordstrom, and Ulta

Active Ingredients: Aloe vera.

Benefits: Deeply hydrates and soothes skin.

Cons: Very simple.

Fragrance-free: Yes.

Skin type: All skin types, including sensitive.

Related: Sensitive Skin? Why You Need Colloidal Oatmeal In Your Skincare Routine

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner ($24.00)

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner is one of the most soothing toners I’ve ever come across. Loaded to the brim with soothing powerhouses like oats, licorice extract, and green tea, it reduces both redness and irritation. Plus, the moisturising base makes skin softer and smoother. The texture? Milky, lightweight, and refreshing.

Available at: Look Fantastic, Sephora and Ulta

Active Ingredients: Oats, licorice extract, and green tea.

Benefits: Moisturises and soothes skin.

Cons: I can’t think of anything.

Fragrance-free: Yes.

Skin type: All skin types, especially sensitive.

Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Combination Skin

The Bottom Line

I know there are only three options here. The truth is, there aren’t many toners especially formulated for sensitive skin that are actually for sensitive skin. Most of the options on the market either contain fragrance or other irritants or are basic hydrating concoctions with no soothing ingredients – and yes, I’ve been looking at toners that claim to be designed for sensitive skin. Go figure what brands think. In the meantime, if you’re looking for the best toners for sensitive skin, go with one of these 3 options. At least it won’t take you long to choose the best one for you.