The 4 Best Toners for Oily Skin and Large Pores [in 2021]

The 4 Best Toners for Oily Skin and Large Pores

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best toner for oily skin and large pores
In a hurry? Here are our top picks:

BEST ORGANIC, ALCOHOL-FREE

ZELEN Life Toner

BEST FOR ACNE-PRONE SKIN

Cane + Austin Acne Retexture Pad

If you remember the skincare boom 10 years ago, the holy grail mantra was CTM: Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.

The foundation to build healthy skin was based on a regular routine with CTM.

As the knowledge and the skincare industry evolved, multiple steps got added on the way. Meanwhile, we are at an absurd 10 steps skincare trend, which amongst all the other fancy essences and serums, also includes (yes, you guessed it right) cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.

We have already presented many articles on the top choices for cleansers and moisturizers according to the skin type, and today we will concentrate on the best toners for oily skin and large pores.

In this article, we will talk about toners that regulate sebum production, mattify the skin, and make the pores look smaller.

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Toner
  • Regulates pH, tightens pores and helps acne breakouts
  • Organic formula that moisturizes and soothes the skin
  • Active botanicals with antibacterial and wound healing properties
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bb2-table__imageCane + Austin Acne Retexture Pad
  • Prevents and improves acne flare ups
  • Reduces fine lines
  • Shrinks pore size
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bb2-table__imageBoscia Rosewater Mist with Witch Hazel
  • Loaded with antioxidant ingredients
  • Witch hazel mattifies the skin
  • Boosts skin hydration
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bb2-table__imageMenScience Androceuticals Advanced Face Tonic
  • Made with exfoliating ingredients
  • Helps acne-prone skin
  • Calming effect and increases moisture
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Before you buy: 4 things to consider when purchasing a toner for oily skin and large pores

1. (Why) Do you need a toner?

Toner is a nice add-on to the skincare routine serving many diverse purposes depending on its ingredient list.

You can use a soothing toner to calm the inflammation down. You can use toners containing actives to unclog the pores and exfoliate the skin, or a hydrating toner that binds the water and makes the moisturizer you apply afterward sink in better to the skin.

It is also an option for a second cleanser for double cleansing fans. Using toner with a cotton pad removes the last residues of makeup and dirt from the skin.

That said, toner is not a ‘must-have’ product in the routine. If you need a toner or not, it depends on what you rest of the skincare routine and budget looks like.

2. How to choose a toner

For very oily and acne-prone skin, choose a product with pore cleansing ingredients like salicylic acid.

However, if you are using acne treatments or other actives to keep oily skin at bay, I would suggest you stick to a basic hydrating or soothing toner to avoid over-drying and irritating your skin.

All skin types benefit from anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients present in the toner to reverse the stress your skin faces on a daily basis.

3. Do pores open or close?

A toner is not a magic product that will make your pores ‘close’.

Pores do not open or close.

What a good toner will do, is unblocking the pores and/or stimulation of collagen production, which, with regular use, will make the pores look smaller.

4. Whether to buy an essence, or a toner, or a facial mist

There is no clear-cut demarcation of when a product should be called essence, toner, or facial mist.

Essence is usually supposed to be a more concentrated version of an ingredient, but that is not a rule.

They are variations of the same watery product you apply before putting on a thicker serum or moisturizer. If you are not a skincare pro, choose one of them.

The 4 best toners for oily skin and large pores

1. ZELEN Life Toner

ZELEN Life Toner Image

Best features:

  • Anti-inflammatory (soothing) and moisturizing
  • One product for all skin moods
  • Budget-friendly

The best toner for:

Natural skincare lovers and those with oily skin with dehydrated patches.

Overview:

The ZELEN Life Toner is a luxury in a bottle for natural skincare lovers. Lavender flower oil and water impart the toner a heavenly aroma and help in soothing any inflammation and healing the irritated skin. (2)

It also has Rose Geranium water, which has antioxidants to fight the free radicals your skin generates through exposure to UV rays and pollution. (1)

Free radicals are primarily responsible for the premature aging of the skin.

What this toner also contains is my favorite ingredient in all the natural world skincare ingredients- Honey.

This absolute multitasker honey- is antibacterial, a great moisturizer, and works wonders in repairing skin wounds and damage. (3)

Ingredients:

Lavender Flower Water, Rose Geranium Flower Water, Honey,  Lavender Flower Oil. Linalool*, Limonene*. (*Natural component of essential oils)

The good:

  • Suited for oily skin but does not dry out the skin
  • Antioxidant, soothing ingredients to counter sun damage and irritation from other factors
  • Wound healing properties
  • Mild: Can be combined with other products with active ingredients

Things to think about:

  • Since the product has natural perfumes and ingredients, it could be sensitizing to eczema-prone skin

Bottom line:

If you do not have sensitive, eczema-prone skin and love some luxury in your skincare, the ZELEN Life Toner could be your go-to toner round the year. While most products for oily skincare dry the skin out, a soothing, moisturizing toner like this could be the addition your skincare routine needs.

2. Cane + Austin Acne Retexture Pad

Cane + Austin Acne Retexture Pad, Exfoliating Facial Treatment Wipes

Best features:

  • Come with the wipes- travel friendly
  • Great exfoliating ingredients

The best toner for:

Acne-prone skin.

Overview:

One of the most important steps in skincare, when it comes to large pores, is exfoliation.

Exfoliation with AHAs like glycolic acid stimulates skin cells’ renewal, improves the skin texture, and reduce pigmentation. (7)

2% salicylic acid, on the other hand, goes deep in the oil glands of the skin, removes the debris, and prevents the pore from clogging and ultimately fend off acne. (8)

In combination, they improve skin roughness and make the pores look smaller. Alcohol in low but significant concentration mattifies the skin by removing the oil layer from the skin and improves the penetration of all other ingredients for a stronger result.

Ingredients:

Salicylic Acid 2%., Acetone, Alcohol (13% v/v), Glycolic Acid, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract

The good:

  • Regular use reduces the pore size
  • Improves and prevents acne, as well as acne induced pigmentation
  • Glycolic acid promotes collagen generation, which improves fine lines
  • Alcohol mattifies the skin

Things to think about:

  • Should not be used daily
  • Not for skincare beginners
  • Should be supplemented with a good moisturizer, otherwise will dry the skin out

Bottom line:

A solid exfoliating option for a toner for oily skin with visibly large pores and acne outbreaks. It is not suitable for daily use, though, and remember to always put on a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day if you use it regularly.

3. Boscia Rosewater Mist with Witch Hazel

Boscia Rosewater Mist with Witch Hazel

Best features:

  • Another natural, organic option
  • Dewy look on application

The best toner for:

Applying under the makeup or as a finishing spray.

Overview:

Boscia Rosewater Mist is a popular product amongst makeup lovers. It gives a dewy glow to the skin without making it look oily, which is perfect for application with makeup.

The star ingredient of the toner, apart from rose water, is witch hazel.

Witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and astringent that can absorb the skin’s excess oil without stripping its natural moisture. (9)

Aloe vera extract and rose flower oil soothe the skin, revitalize, and hydrate it.

Clove oil and basil oil are antimicrobial and play a small role in preventing the growth of bacteria causing acne. (10)

Ingredients:

Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Rose Flower Oil, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Basil Oil, Clove Leaf Oil, Matricaria Flower Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Witch Hazel Extract, Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Jojoba Seed Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Extract.

The good:

  • Rich in organic antioxidant, moisturizing and soothing ingredients
  • Witch hazel mattifies the skin

Things to think about:

  • Potential allergens in the ingredient list. Not suitable for sensitive skin
  • Some users review it as being sticky on the application

Bottom line:

A toner for regular makeup users that controls the oil production without disturbing the hydration levels. People with sensitive skin and a history of allergies need to be careful, though.

4. MenScience Androceuticals Advanced Face Tonic

MenScience Androceuticals Advanced Face Tonic

Best features:

  • A multipurpose toner- a shortcut approach to many benefits.

The best toner for:

Men (since it is primarily advertised for the male population), and those who like to keep their skincare routine short.

Overview:

I am surprised at the ingredient list of the toner. It has every ingredient an entire good skincare ‘routine’ should have.

To begin with, a combination of strong (glycolic acid) and mild (lactic acid) chemical exfoliators to remove the dead top layer of the skin to make the pores look smaller and increase the overall radiance of the skin.

Aloe vera (4) and chamomile (5) soothe the inflammation, while glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, and panthenol condition the skin and keep it hydrated.

An antioxidant boost is provided by green tea extracts and grape (vitis vinifera). Tea tree oil is an antibacterial agent that fights against acne. (6)

Ingredients:

Aqua purificata, aloe vera, glycerin, glycolic acid, malic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, green tea, panthenol, vitis vinifera, witch hazel, sodium hyaluronate, chamomile, tea tree, rosemary, allantoin.

The good:

  • Exfoliating ingredients to keep the skin rejuvenated and fresh
  • Alcohol-free – does not dry the skin out
  • Contains ingredients with calming and hydrating properties
  • Alpha hydroxy acids, as well as tea tree oil to fight against acne, a common problem with oily skin

Things to think about:

  • A LOT of active ingredients. Might be irritating, especially if you already use products or treatments with concentrated actives
  • Not suitable for sensitive skin

Bottom line:

A good power-packed toner, which promises to do more than an entire skincare routine. It would work good when you like your skincare routine to be the basic CTM- just add a mild moisturizer to this dynamo, and you should be good to go. Not to be applied on irritated skin, though.


How we chose these products

We chose the best toner for oily and acne-prone skin based on several factors.

First, we sorted out the best toners available for oily skin. Our priorities were a scientifically sound ingredient list, an efficient formulation, and the brands that we can trust to produce high-quality products. We also took into consideration the availability to a wide range of our readers across the globe.

We made sure that none of the toners are exorbitantly high-priced so that they fit into your routine seamlessly. Even in the reasonably priced bracket, we kept in mind all budget points.

We picked out top products for all the variations of oily skin type with large pores-uncomplicated oily skin, acne-prone skin, inflammation, etc. Furthermore, we picked out a couple of natural options for those who like their skincare the organic way.

The last and most important step was to include feedbacks from various platforms and channels. We made sure that reviews are trustworthy and come from reliable sources.

Through this extensive process, we tried to make sure that we found one product for everyone. I hope we were able to.

Frequently asked questions

frequently asked questions

How to apply the toner?

While the right way to apply is to soak a cotton pad in the toner and dabbing it on your face, many people also use their fingers to apply toners.

Neither method is wrong.

Applying it with fingers will cause a little product wastage, though. Also, make sure when applied with a cotton pad, the pad is not rubbed on the skin, just gently dabbed.

How often should I use the toner?

It completely depends upon the active ingredients in your toner. A toner with salicylic and glycolic acid should be used a maximum of 3-4 times a week, once daily, preferably at night. But a toner just with moisturizing or soothing ingredients like rosewater can be used even twice a day.

If I spray water, rather than using toner, and follow it up with a moisturizer, would it have the same effect on my skin’s hydration?

No, a toner with hydrating ingredients followed by a moisturizer is way more efficacious in hydrating the skin and giving the moisture boost compared to water and moisturizer.

Using a toner not only delivers more hydrating ingredients but also helps the moisturizer to penetrate better and bind more water. (12)

It was said that the toner balances skin’s pH, is it true?

When the soaps and face washes were harsh and with pH above 6, a toner with a little acidic pH of <5.5 was supposed to balance the acid mantle of the skin.

But we know now that the acid mantle of skin balances itself and does not need a toner to do that.

Additionally, using a cleansing product with high pH is very detrimental anyway and should be avoided in the first place, rather than using a toner to balance it out.

Can toner make my face less oily long term?

Temporarily yes. But the oil production is regulated by the hormones called androgen.

No toner or, as a matter of fact, any other product applied from outside can regulate oil production on a long term basis.

A toner can only mattify your face for a few hours. A long term improvement in oily skin needs a dermatologist based treatment like isotretinoin (11) or hormonal therapy.

Conclusion

With so many skincare products available in the market, designing a routine for oily skin with large pores could be challenging.

The product shouldn’t just control the oil and reduce the appearance of pores but also maintain a healthy skin barrier and control acne breakouts.

A toner doing all that and a little more could be a great addition to your skincare routine, and I hope we were able to help you make a choice.

Do you know someone with oily skin who would benefit from this list?

If you do, share this article with them. Also, do you love toners too?  Let us know in the comments.

If you liked this article and are interested in more such articles to help you navigate the myriad of options suitable for your skin type–subscribe to our email list to get the top choices delivered right to your inbox.

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References

  1. Boskabady MH, Shafei MN, Saberi Z, Amini S. Pharmacological effects of rosa Damascena. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2011;14(4):295-307.
  2. Cardia GFE, Silva-Filho SE, Silva EL, et al. Effect of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Essential Oil on Acute Inflammatory Response. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:1413940. Published 2018 Mar 18. doi:10.1155/2018/1413940
  3. Burlando B, Cornara L. Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Dec;12(4):306-13. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12058. PMID: 24305429.
  4. Hekmatpou D, Mehrabi F, Rahzani K, Aminiyan A. The Effect of Aloe Vera Clinical Trials on Prevention and Healing of Skin Wound: A Systematic Review. Iran J Med Sci. 2019;44(1):1-9.
  5. Bhaskaran N, Shukla S, Srivastava JK, Gupta S. Chamomile: an anti-inflammatory agent inhibits inducible nitric oxide synthase expression by blocking RelA/p65 activity. Int J Mol Med. 2010;26(6):935-940. doi:10.3892/ijmm_00000545
  6. Malhi HK, Tu J, Riley TV, Kumarasinghe SP, Hammer KA. Tea tree oil gel for mild to moderate acne; a 12 week uncontrolled, open-label phase II pilot study. Australas J Dermatol. 2017 Aug;58(3):205-210. doi: 10.1111/ajd.12465. Epub 2016 Mar 21. PMID: 27000386.
  7. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin. Molecules. 2018;23(4):863. Published 2018 Apr 10. doi:10.3390/molecules23040863
  8. Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015;8:455-461. Published 2015 Aug 26. doi:10.2147/CCID.S84765
  9. Thring TS, Hili P, Naughton DP. Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea, rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells. J Inflamm (Lond). 2011;8(1):27. Published 2011 Oct 13. doi:10.1186/1476-9255-8-27
  10. Orchard, A., & van Vuuren, S. (2017). Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2017, 4517971. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4517971
  11. . Geissler SE, Michelsen S, Plewig G. Very low dose isotretinoin is effective in controlling seborrhea. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2003;1(12):952-958. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2303.2003.00108.x-i1
  12. Yuanxi L, Wei H, Lidan X, Li L. Comparison of skin hydration in combination and single use of common moisturizers (cream, toner, and spray water). J Cosmet Sci. 2016 May-Jun;67(3):175-83. PMID: 29394018.

About The Author

Dr. Rashmi Singh DDVL
Dr. Rashmi Singh DDVL

Board-certified Dermatologist

Dr. Singh studied dermatology from one of the most prestigious medical colleges of India – Stanley Medical College, Chennai. After finishing her post-graduation she went on to work as a consultant dermatologist in one of the largest cosmetology clinic chains in India – Kaya skin clinic. Working alongside expert aesthetic dermatologists of India, she worked extensively with customized skincare as well as lasers and injectables. Alongside, training under famous hair transplant surgeon – Dr. Venkataram Mysore, she learnt the nitty gritties of hair treatments. After doing two traveling fellowships in dermatology in Germany, she decided to settle there. Currently dividing her time between practicing dermatology and aesthetic medicine, she finds immense joy in educating people about the science behind skincare and haircare.

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