Written by Tami Louise Rumbaugh, B.A., L.E.

The merge of eastern and western thought has brought much balance to American health and wellness. Such a bountiful, positive impact on the aesthetic industry has not been overlooked.  Medicines, techniques, and philosophies cohesively united between the East and West allow us to bring the best-used practices, ancient regimens, and worldwide tried-and-true tools into a holistic wellness outlook, benefitting the industry exponentially. As people, we strive for balance; we strive to find a middle ground; we strive to understand, grow, and benefit from those who have walked before us. Therefore, keeping this thought in mind, we can find health and benefit in reestablishing a middle ground and finding balance for the skin.

Recent Appreciation of the Toner
The toner has been newly appreciated in recent years and is a direct benefactor of the heightened awareness of cultural symbiosis for the aesthetic industry and desire to seek balance and connectedness. The toner is not an optional step, though it may seem like one to some. From the perspective of a skin care professional, every client, student, and company evaluating their skin care line should understand the simple, affordable, and significant details of the toner.

Balancing pH with a Toner
Toners, also called fluids, lotions, astringents, and tonics, amongst other names, allow products to last longer; toners increase the efficacy of serums and the spreadability of moisturizers and sun care products. Toners bring balance to the pH of the skin, or potential hydrogen level. The acidity of the skin is beneficial for protecting us from harmful bacteria and surface level toxins and fungi. The skin’s ideal pH is 5.5. Keeping numbers in perspective, substances are judged based on a pH scale with 1 being highly acidic and 14 being extreme on the alkaline side. Doing a litmus test is one way to determine the pH level; since most people do not carry around litmus paper to measure the pH level of their skin on a regular basis, it is beneficial to implement other tools that are much more user-friendly. Toners take care of some of this user-friendly pH balancing, both as professionals in clinic and for ourselves and clients during homecare.

Different Methods of Toner Application
In the professional and consumer-based skin care regimen, toner is used in a plethora of manners. For clients, it is mainly the balancer, post-cleanse, and pre-protection stage. Thus, after the skin has been properly cleansed, eye makeup removed, exfoliation completed, toner is applied. Most clients prefer one method versus another when learning to use toner for their homecare routine, thus, listening to the client’s lifestyle and preferences is important to ensure cooperation and consistent use of toner at home. The two most common methods of application of a toner are either via a spray bottle onto face, neck, décolleté, back and shoulders, or via cotton pads to the same areas. Why the back, some would say? Back treatment is significant with toners because of the need to balance, hydrate, tone, and nourish. Toners are an efficient, effective, and easy way to ensure that the back and shoulders are not neglected.

The Role of the Toner
Within the scope of professional facilities and treatments, toner can be used not only in the same way as the client would use it, but also to enhance professional treatments and to remove additional makeup and oils, post-cleanse – it can be spritzed on, wiped on, or left on. Toner can effectively be used pre-modality treatment to prepare the skin for microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, and peels. Toner is effectively mixed with hydrophilic oil for a post-wax soothing treatment, whether by the professional application, post eyebrow and face wax, or handed to the client on lint-free cotton square gauze pads to assist them with their personal removal of wax and residue from bikini and Brazilian waxing therapies. Toner can be used post-professional treatment before the masking step of a facial or back facial. Toner is helpful to prepare the skin before serums, eye treatments, and moisturizers. Toner does not change the efficacy of skin care products, but, instead, is a tool to help with its application and use. It also helps with penetration of the key active ingredients of the products being used. Toner prepares the skin to enhance the protection step of a skin care treatment, such as vitamin C or sun protection products, to keep the acid-alkaline ratio of the skin in its proper state so that the products can do their jobs of protecting against free-radicals inundation into the skin and shield against environmental dirt, debris, toxins, UVA/UVB rays, and heat.
Toners refresh and dispense much-needed botanicals, vitamins, minerals, and hydrators and, sometimes, environmental and sun protection into the skin. Some toners can be used for all skin types and may be botanical based. There are others which are developed specifically for benefits such as bringing sebum protection back into control and mattifying the skin, increasing dermal vitality, dispensing anti-aging ingredients into the skin, increasing hydration within the skin, and calming redness and soothing inflammation, to specify a few. In general, it can be appreciated and understood that all toners bring benefit, restoration, and balance to our largest organ, the skin.

At the end of the day, bringing the skin out of balance and back into balance is one of the most crucial dances we do in the aesthetic industry. In order to truly prevent, reverse, and maintain skin health and appearance, every step in a skin care regimen must be understood and appreciated. Therefore, skin care professionals, consultants, and educators have an important responsibility to demonstrate proper technique, not just in the clinic, but as advocates for consistent homecare usage of toners. This will ensure not only the benefit of toners but the efficacy of all products used.

Tami-Rumbaugh-2015A native San Diegan and UCLA alumna, Tami Rumbaugh gained experience from the medical laser industry and is currently an aesthetician for clinics in La Jolla, Calif. and Palm Desert, Calif. She also consults for a variety of projects within the aesthetic industry. As an educator for CA Botana, Tami shares her love for skin care techniques and the science behind getting great results with fellow skin care professionals, as well as students in the industry.

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