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Toners aren't a 'necessary' step in your skincare routine; I'll admit that up front! Originally they were supposed to bring your skin's pH back to neutral after cleansing because face cleansers were these really alkaline soaps back in day. Obviously there's no need for that these days, but toners can be used for exfoliation or an essence will deliver a dose of fermented benefits to the skin. Or, you can use my favourite kind of toner, which are milky and hydrating formulas. These are 4 of my favourites...

First up is product that really doesn't get the hype it deserves; the First Aid Beauty Wild Oat Hydrating Toner* | £20. This actually feels somewhere between a milky toner, a Korean essence and serum; it's a weighty, gel-like product with its second ingredient being glycerin (which draws water into the skin). It's formulated with fermented, anti-bacterial honey, soothing oat extract (great for red, dry, sensitised skin), Beta-glucan to soothe and hydrate, licorice extract (which can help with discolouration) and squalane, which is a skin-similar plant oil that's great for replenishing lost softness and moisture. This is lovely added layer of hydration with some very slightly active elements to it that give your skin a little something extra, even when your routine is pretty quick and streamlined. As with all of the products in this post; I just apply it directly with my hands. It's hydrating, it's calming and my skin just drinks it up at this time of year!

I also love love love the Aveeno Calm + Restore Soothing Oat Toning Lotion* | £8.49 | which is decidedly simpler, but offers a more budget-friendly option if you're primarily interested in the soothing benefits of colloidal oat. This is probably the lightest option of the bunch, so if you don't want an extra layer on your skin that's comparable to serum; this is for you. It still has that welcome milky quality to it. It has glycerin, oat extract and feverfew extract for hydration, a skin-calming benefit and an antioxidant boost. The uncomplicated, fragrance-free formula makes it great for skin that's prone to sensitivity and it effectively combats dryness and soothes inflammation.

A newer addition to my lineup that's been a mainstay since I got my hands on it is the Dr Jart Ceramidin Skin Barrier Serum Toner* | £35. This is definitely the most heavy-duty option texture-wise; the name of the product even acknowledges it's almost a serum at this point! It has a thicker, glycerin-rich texture to provide a really hydrating base and it's formulated with ceramides; a fundamental component of the lipid barrier that helps keep your skin balanced and moisturised (we need as much of this as possible during the winter months!) It's also made with soothing and hydrating panthenol and plant oils that will give your skin that lovely soft feeling. This is so hydrating and I've definitely applied this after cleansing then gone off to do something else before continuing my routine and taken a little longer than planned and my skin was still soft, happy and moisturised over an hour later. This is not one of those toners that disappears into nothingness on my skin; it genuinely really helps with my skin's hydration levels beyond providing a temporary boost.

Finally, an old favourite that was reformulated this year: the Laneige Cream Skin Cerapeptide Toner & Moisturiser* | £29.50. The original formula was definitely one of the first milky toners I've seen on the market and I do thing generally, this product type is pretty popular with Korean skincare brands. This new formulation is a little lighter in its texture than the original (more like a milky toner than a lotion), but once it's applied it feels just as softening and hydrating. This toner / moisturiser (it's a toner for my skin type!) is formulated with Vitamin E (a fat-soluble antioxidant), meadowfoam seed oil to moisturise the skin and leave it feeling nice and soft, glycerin, squalane, ceramides and skin-healing peptides. This is a lighter option than the Dr Jart for those who aren't keen on the idea of something that thick, but it still provides well-rounded hydration that lasts all day long.

Have you tried any of my toner favourites? Do you use toners within your own skincare routine?

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