Set The Tone: How Toners Found Their Place In The Holy Grail CTM Routine


Set The Tone: How Toners Found Their Place In The Holy Grail CTM Routine

By Khanak Mehta, Hasina Khatib


For many, their first foray into the world of skincare is marked with the holy grail advice that has been drilled into our minds for decades – cleanse, tone, and moisturise. Many trends have come and gone, but the CTM routine remains untouched. It has firmly held its place amongst social media trends that seem to change almost daily, and is still every skincare novice’s go-to mantra for building their first routine. 

But, over the last few years, we have seen the second step of this routine lose its popularity – the toner. There has been a lot of debate around whether you actually need one, given its history and original intended use. Plus, a lot of people often wonder, what does it actually do? 

To understand this better, let’s step into our beauty time machine and take a trip back into the 1900’s. 


Humble beginnings 

Here’s the answer to why your early experiences with toner haven’t necessarily been very pleasant – that dry and irritated feeling was due to the fact that they originally started out as tonic water back in the 1920s. These toners of yore comprised of high volumes of alcohol to rid the skin of every last trace of oil, since primitive cleansers were soap-based and often left behind a film of residue on the skin.  

Hence, toners assumed astringent properties to adequately extract any residue left behind and rebalance the skin to its correct pH level. They were also used to remove makeup from the skin - however, they did a rather superficial job of it and didn’t actually cleanse your pores.  


Back to the future 

Thanks to modern-day skincare formulations, we have been introduced to a plethora of new advancements and ingredients. This means that cosmetic scientists finally figured out that stripping the skin of its natural oils isn’t necessarily the best idea, and they created cleansers with upgraded formulas, sans any soapy residue. Following this, toners have upgraded to souped-up formulas, without the astringent properties. This means no more burning, irritation, or stinging – sensitive and acne-prone skinned beauties will rejoice. 


Find your tone(r) 

The toners you’ll now find in beauty aisles offer fluid, water-like formulas that are swiftly absorbed by the skin with added benefits for your skin type and concerns – whether that be anti-ageing, hydration, or brightening. This newer generation of toners still removes some makeup and debris on the skin – although superficially – but they also work hard to nourish and replenish the skin after cleansing. So, it definitely still holds its place as a key part of your skincare routine because it delivers some benefits and acts as a primer for the rest of your products, too. 

Our advice: If you’re just introducing – or reintroducing – toner into your routine, pick an alcohol-free toner to avoid dryness. Remember to also be gentle around the sensitive areas of your skin like near the eyes or the creases of your nose.  


Ready to complete your CTM routine? Here are some of our favorite toners that have found a permanent spot in our regimes.