Best toner and face toner reviews from cheap to luxury and for oily to dry skin

Best toner: Discover which face toner best suits your skin type and budget

30th September 2023 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

Looking for best face toner recommendations? We’ve got you covered with our pick of the best toner for all skin types


Click the links below to jump to the relevant section:

Best toner list at a glance

Best toner reviews

How we test toners

Scoring Methodology 

Best toner spreadsheet

When you’re on a budget it can be tempting to abandon your search for the best toner and ditch it from your skincare routine, but it has many more benefits than you may realise.

Put simply, toner gives your skin a quick burst of hydration while removing dead cells from the surface.

This helps remove any dirt missed by your cleanser and helps stop any traces of cleanser from clogging up your skin. It also results in brighter, smoother-looking skin. You can learn more in our What does toner do? article.

What’s more, just like a primer prepares your skin for makeup, toner can be seen as a primer for the rest of your skincare products.

FURTHER READING: How to make your own homemade toner on the cheap

It helps freshen the skin for your serum and makes it easier for your skin to absorb your moisturiser. If you’ve spent a lot of money on serums and moisturisers but scrimp on the toner, you’re doing your skin (and your wallet) a disservice.

In a bid to find the best face toner in the UK, we recently started a group test review series on TikTok.

As part of this series, we’re testing the hydration levels of different skincare products – from the best serums, to the best moisturisers, essences, and balms. Now we’ve added face toners to the mix.

We’re tracking the scores for each of the best face toners on a spreadsheet which you can find here, or by clicking the button below.

We’ve started listing the best toners that have been tested as part of this series, as well as the toners that we’ve used in real life and which we highly recommend. At the top of this article are the top scoring face toners according to TikTok as well as the best toners for different skin types and concerns.

If you’re interested to learn more about how we test serums, jump straight to that section.


Best toner

This list is due to change and evolve as more tests are completed. These are the best toners as of February 2023. We’ve started listing the best serums and best moisturisers separately here. 


  1. Fenty Skin Fat Water Toner Serum: Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)
  2. r.e.m Beauty Mist Thing Calming Face Mist: Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)
  3. Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner: Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)
  4. Haruharu Wonder Black Rice Toner: Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)
  5. Simple Soothing Toner: Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)
  6. Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray: Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)
  7. COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner: Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)
  8. Beauty Pie Triple Hyaluronic Acid Mist: Buy now (UK) 
  9. Klair’s Daily Skin Hydrating Water: Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)
  10. The Body Shop Vitamin E Toner: Buy now (UK) 



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♥︎ Fenty Skin Fat Water Toner Serum

£27 | Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)

Watch the full TikTok video

Fenty Skin Fat Water Toner reviewFenty Skin

Part face toner, part serum, the Fenty Skin Fat Water ticks a lot of boxes when looking for top-quality skincare.

It’s not cheap – coming in at £27 – but it effectively does the work of two separate products in one. And, judging by our wide skincare group tests, it outperforms them all.

It gets its name from the fact it feels closer to a gel than a standard toner. It doesn’t feel heavy on the skin, and manages to soothe redness and irritation while hydrating the skin. 

In our hydration tests, Fenty Skin’s Fat Water increased the hydration of our skin by 10. 7 percentage points, or a percentage increase of 41.5%. Only the COSRX HA 3 serum comes close.

It’s vegan and cruelty-free and it has low irritation and comedogenic ratings.

This means that it’s unlikely to cause irritation or cause clogged pores – although these figures should only be used as a guide because the overall formula, when mixed with all the other ingredients, could change these ratings.

There are some flaws to this product. It contains ingredients that are considered “icky”, according to the INCI Decoder database. Namely fragrance.

It also contains a dye called Red 33 which, while not listed as an icky ingredient, is frowned upon. This is because the use of dyes has been known to disrupt the delicate balance of the skin barrier.

Elsewhere, it’s a pain to squeeze out of the tube but don’t let these points put you off, it’s a great product and the best face toner we’ve tested.

FURTHER READING: Fenty Skin UK: Rihanna looks to add Fenty Hair to her growing beauty empire

Buy now from Boots

♥︎ r.e.m Beauty Mist Thing Calming Face Mist

£20 | Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)

rem Beauty Face Mist reviewmamabella | mamabella

If you’re not familiar with r.e.m Beauty, it’s another celebrity skincare brand.

This time from singer Ariana Grande.

Its Mist Thing Calming Face Mist is an ultra-fine mist designed to instantly hydrate and soothe the skin.

It contains lavender essential oil, chamomile extract, and rose water, each of which helps to calm and relax the skin.

In our hydration test, this mist increased hydration levels by a hugely impressive 13.1 points, or 34.8%.

This is the highest point increase and only the second-highest percentage increase, after Fenty Beauty’s Fat Water Toner Serum.

It scored extra points for being a fully vegan and cruelty-free brand, and while it’s not cheap, it’s not super expensive either.

This 118ml bottle costs £20, meaning that 30ml is just £6.70.

It’s not entirely perfect; it does contain a number of fragrances that could cause problems for sensitive skin but during our tests, we never experienced any irritation.

Buy now from Sephora

♥︎ Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner

£9.50 | Buy now

Watch the full TikTok video

Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner reviewmamabella | mamabella

One of the most recent products we’ve tested in our hunt for the best face toner is the Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner.

Pyunkang Yul is a Korean-beauty staple and the toner performed incredibly well in our TikTok tests.

It increased the hydration levels of our skin by 12.4 points, or 33.1% after five minutes.

Despite then dropping by 4.4 points after an hour, it gave our skin a total hydration boost of eight points, or 24%.

In addition to being affordable, it also contains no icky ingredients on the INCI Decoder database, promises zero irritation, and has a comedogenic rating of 1.

This means the chances of it clogging your pores are low.

The consistency is watery and this means you don’t need to use a lot, and it absorbs quickly.

This can be used as a toner, after your cleanser, or as an essence.

If you want to try this face toner, we currently have a 10% discount code for YesStyle.

Just type MAMABELLA at the checkout to get money off this already affordable skincare icon.

Buy now from YesStyle

♥︎ Haruharu Wonder Black Rice Toner

£17 | Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)

Watch the full TikTok video

Haruharu Wonder Black Rice Toner reviewmamabella | mamabella

With a score of 54 points, the Haruharu Wonder Rice Toner jumped straight into the top three of our best toner list when we tested it back in January.

Not only did it increase the hydration levels of our skin by 6.5 points (19.1%) after an hour, but it also scored highly for being affordable, vegan, and cruelty-free.

In terms of ingredients, this toner contains a blend of natural ingredients.

This includes rice extract, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide, which work together to soothe, hydrate, and improve the overall appearance of the skin.

Rice extract is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it great at calming and nourishing the skin, while hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant that attracts and retains moisture, helping to hydrate and plump the skin.

Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, then helps to brighten the skin and improve its texture.

For our best toner reviews, we tested the fragrance-free version of this toner. This version has been formulated specifically for sensitive skin and it doesn’t contain any “icky” ingredients, nor does it contain any ingredients with high irritation or comedogenic ratings.

You can alternatively buy a fragranced version of this toner which contains alcohol, lavender oil, and linalool. While most people should be fine with these ingredients, there’s a small risk that people with particularly sensitive skin or allergies could have a reaction. If this is you, just make sure you buy the correct version.

Haruharu Wonder is a cult Korean skincare brand that specialises in products that moisturise, brighten, and nourish the skin. The entire Black Rice range focuses on boosting hydration and if our tests are anything to go by, it well and truly fulfills its promise.

Buy now from Sephora | Buy now from Walmart

♥︎ Simple Soothing Toner

£4 | Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)

Watch the full TikTok video

Simple Soothing Toner reviewmamabella | mamabella

There’s a lot to love about the Simple Skincare Soothing Toner on paper and, judging by our tests, these promises live up to their claims.

The toner is formulated to be gentle and refreshing. Especially for sensitive skin.

It contains chamomile, witch hazel, and allantoin all of which provide a soothing and calming effect on the skin while getting rid of impurities, dirt, and makeup that may be left on the skin after cleansing.

It also claims to help balance the skin’s natural pH levels, which is great for anyone trying to repair their skin barrier.

Elsewhere, it’s alcohol-free, fragrance-free, and free from any harsh chemicals, making it suitable for all skin types, and it’s vegan and cruelty-free.

In our hydration test, this entry in our best toner list increased levels by 5.2 points (16%) after five minutes. This dropped slightly after an hour – by 1.5 points – but this still gave an overall hydrating rise of 3.7 (11.9%).

According to its INCI Decoder page, this toner contains no icky ingredients and has an irritation and comedogenic rating of zero. All for just £4.

We feel that Simple Skincare isn’t given the credit it deserves and we’re glad this toner performed so well.

Buy now from Amazon UK | Buy now from Amazon US

♥︎ Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray

  £27 | Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)

Watch the full TikTok video

Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spraymamabella

This face spray has a number of uses but we like to use it as a toner because it hydrates the skin, while also helping prep the skin for all the serums and moisturisers you want to use after.

As well as using it as part of our morning, and nighttime skincare routine, we also like to keep it in our bag and spritz our face at various points throughout the day to hydrate and freshen the skin, and bring our makeup back to life.

In fact, it’s a great setting spray.

It not only helps smooth and soften dry patches, but it’s also great for leaving your skin plump and youthful look.

The formula is lightweight and non-greasy and it contains aloe vera and chamomile to calm any redness or irritation.

In our hydration test, this spray increased hydration by 7.7 points (31.6%) after just five minutes.

It dropped hydration after an hour, by 4.4 points, but this meant it provided an overall hydration increase of 3.5 points or 13.5%.

It scored maximum points for containing no icky ingredients and having a zero irritant rating, and a very low comedogenic rating (1/5). It lost points for not being a fully vegan brand, and for being on the pricey side.

With all of this considered, the Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray comes in 5th place in our best toner list.

Buy now from AllBeauty | Buy now from Walmart

♥︎ COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner

£16 | Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)

Watch the full TikTok video

COSRX Propolis Synergy Toner reviewmamabella | mamabella

This Propolis Synergy toner is part-toner, and part-essence and gets its name from the fact it contains 72% Black Bee propolis.

Propolis extract is antibacterial and contains antioxidants, both of which make this toner great for acne-prone skin, breakouts, irritation, and sun damage. It’s made from a resin that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax together, along with tree sap. Bees use it like a ‘glue’ to help seal gaps in their beehives.

The propolis extract then forms part of what COSRX calls its Full-Fit Pro Barrier Complex. This also includes honey, and Royal Jelly extract.

Honey is great for speeding up how quickly your skin cells regenerate, which determines how quickly your skin heals. It’s also anti-inflammatory. This is particularly good for people who have blemishes or eczema.

While Royal Jelly has been linked with helping to boost collagen production and can protect skin against the effects of ultraviolet radiation.

That’s not to say this toner is a sunscreen, it just helps protect the skin against UV effects.

In our hydration test, this essence-toner increased the hydration levels in our skin by 7.8 points (22.1%) after five minutes. After an hour, these levels dropped slightly – by 1.3 points – which gave the toner an overall increase of 6.5 points (19.1%).

It doesn’t contain any ingredients that the INCI Decoder website classes as “icky” and its ingredients have an Irritation rating of 0, and a very low comedogenic rating of 1. This means the chances of this toner causing irritation or breakouts are unlikely.

As you would imagine, a toner that relies on natural extracts from honey bees isn’t classed as vegan.

The brand doesn’t test products on animals, meaning it’s technically cruelty-free though.

Buy now from PureSeoul | Buy now from Ulta

♥︎ Beauty Pie Triple Hyaluronic Acid Mist

£16.50 | Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)

View the full TikTok test here

Beauty Pie Triple Hyaluronic Serum reviewBeauty Pie

We were Beauty Pie members years ago, when the brand was still relatively new, and we didn’t rate it at all. More recently, we’d seen some positive reviews from people we trust so thought we’d give it another go – and we’re so glad we did.

The range and quality of products are greatly improved and one of our favourites is the Beauty Pie Triple Hyaluronic Acid Serum Mist.

Part of the wider Triple Hyaluronic Acid collection, the mist (as its name suggests) is a hyaluronic-based mist that is applied by spraying it on your skin.

Although opinions vary, it’s suggested that patting hyaluronic acid into your skin, rather than rubbing it, can have a greater effect, and the same is said for spraying it on your face, neck, and chest.

In our hydration test in our hunt for the best face serums, this mist increased the hydration of our skin by 7.9 points, or 30.4%.

This puts the Beauty Pie product in eighth place overall.

Although this isn’t the highest of hydration increases (it’s up there, but isn’t the highest), the reason it scored higher overall is that it’s cruelty-free, plus it’s a semi-affordable product if you’re a Beauty Pie member.

If you want to learn more about Beauty Pie membership, click here. 

As with all hyaluronic acid products, it’s advised that you apply your moisturisers or lotions on top of the serum while your skin is still wet.

READ NEXT: Beauty Pie reviews: We put the best Beauty Pie products to the test to see if a membership is actually worth it

Buy now from Cult Beauty

♥︎ Klair’s Daily Skin Hydrating Water

£26 | Buy now 

Watch the full TikTok video

Dear Klairs Daily Hydrating Watermamabella | mamabella

Dear Klairs was one of the original Korean skincare brands and it’s still one of the best.

The brand sells a wide range of vegan, cruelty-free skincare designed with sensitive skin in mind and one of its bestsellers is its Daily Skin Hydrating Water.

It’s a water-like toner made with 45% green tea water, calendula flower water, and coconut palm water to hydrate and soothe the skin.

It’s super lightweight and non-sticky toner and as a result, can be used on all skin types.

The reason green tea is such a good skincare ingredient is that it’s rich in antioxidants, which help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.

Calendula flower water has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that can help to calm irritated skin, and coconut palm water is a natural humectant that helps draw moisture into the skin.

In our hydration test, this toner increased the hydration levels of our skin by 4.4 points (15.1%) after five minutes and 5.1 (14.9%) after an hour.

Given how lightweight this toner is, we’d expected it to evaporate quickly but the use of coconut water as a humectant seems to have helped maintain and even increase hydration throughout the testing period.

Due to the fact it’s so gentle, Klair’s Daily Skin Hydrating Water can be used morning and night to remove any dirt or makeup after cleansing and help to even out skin texture and prep the skin for the rest of your skincare routine.

Buy now from YesStyle

♥︎ The Body Shop Vitamin E Toner

£9 | Buy now 

Watch the full TikTok video

The Body Shop Vitamin E Tonermamabella | mamabella

We haven’t tested many toners as part of our TikTok series yet but the worst performing of the lot has been The Body Shop Vitamin E Toner.

That’s not to say it’s terrible, it’s just running with incredibly strong competition with the likes of Fenty Skin’s Fat Water and Pyunkang Yul’s Essence Toner.

In our hydration test, this Body Shop toner increased levels by 5.7 points or 18%.

After an hour, this dropped by three points giving a total rise of a relatively low 2.7 points, or 9.4%.

On the INCI Decoder database, it is then shown as containing a high number “icky” ingredients.

Namely, fragrance as well as a number of perfuming ingredients including citronellol, alpha-isomethyl ionone, linalool, geraniol, citral, eugenol, and more.

This gave this face toner a total of 6.4 points out of a possible 10.

Thankfully, despite all of these icky ingredients, the rest of the formula has a zero irritation rating and a comedogenic rating of 1.

Consistency-wise, this toner has the same viscosity as the Pyunkang Yul essence toner and you only need a very small amount to cover your entire face.

On the plus side, it’s also cheap in comparison to other toners in this list and the brand is cruelty-free, so it does have a few things going for it.

FURTHER READING: Clean beauty: What are clean beauty products and how can I shop more consciously?

Buy now from The Body Shop

When is toner used on face?

As you can read in our How to layer skincare guide, toner works best when it’s used after your cleanser but before your serums, moisturisers and SPF.

Toner helps remove any traces of leftover cleanser as well as get rid of any dirt or makeup that wasn’t cleared away through cleansing. It then creates a blank, damp canvas for your serums.

This helps to make the ingredients in the serum more effective and, by keeping the skin clean, it helps reduce the appearance of pores.

You can read more in our guide to the hard truth about pores and why you can’t shrink or minimise them.

When should I use toner?

When to use a toner in your skincare routine largely depends on your skin type, the specific concerns you’re addressing, and the kind of toner you’re using. However, the general rule is to apply toner after cleansing but before applying serums, moisturisers, or other treatments.

  • After cleansing: Once you’ve cleansed your face, toner can help remove any residual grime and prepare your skin to absorb the next steps in your skincare routine.
  • Before serums and moisturisers: Toners can help balance the pH of your skin and open up your pores, making it easier for your skin to absorb the benefits of serums, creams, and moisturisers that follow.
  • After exercising: A toner can be good to use after a workout to help cleanse the skin of sweat and bacteria, preventing breakouts.
  • Climate considerations: In hot and humid climates, a toner can refresh the skin. In contrast, in cold or dry climates, a hydrating toner can help lock in moisture.

When to Use Based on Skin Type

Oily Skin: If you have oily skin, you might benefit from using a toner in the morning and at night to help control excess sebum.

Dry or Sensitive Skin: If you’ve got dry or sensitive skin, using a toner once a day or even every other day might be enough. Opt for alcohol-free toners with hydrating ingredients.

Combination Skin: You can choose to use a toner only on the oily parts of your face, such as the T-zone, or opt for a balancing toner that can be used all over the face.


How we test toners

For each best face toner test, we use a gadget called the Mili Pure to record the hydration level of the skin on our hand. We then wash them with cold water, to make the skin damp. We then apply each toner or essence onto the damp skin.

We wait five minutes at which point we take a second skin hydration reading. After an hour, we take a third reading.

Best face toner: Scoring methodology

To determine a product’s total score, which determines where it sits on the leaderboard, we add together the points in the Vegan, Cruelty-Free, Hydration Percentage, and INCI Score categories. We then subtract the price per 30ml, and the Irritation and Comedone Rating scores.

  • Price: The recommended retail price (RRP) for the product in question.
  • Price (per 30ml): The price of the product, per 30ml.
  • Vegan: Fully vegan brands score 10. Brands that offer vegan products but aren’t fully vegan score 5. Brands with no vegan options score 0.
  • Cruelty-free: Cruelty-free brands score 10. Brands that don’t test on animals, but who partner with organisations or countries that do, score 5. Brands that offer no assurances about animal testing score 0.
  • Hydration points: The percentage point difference between the baseline hydration test, and the five-minute hydration test.
  • Hydration percentage: The percentage difference between the baseline hydration test, and the five-minute hydration test.
  • INCI score: Using the INCI Decoder website, we determine how many of the ingredients in a product’s formula are considered to be “icky.” A product with no “icky” ingredients scores 100%, which we convert to a score of 10. A product with 10 ingredients and two of them are “icky” means the product is 20% “icky” and 80% “good.” The 80% is then converted to a score of 8.
  • Irritation Rating: All ingredients listed on the INCI Decoder website come with an irritation score, out of 5. The score for this category is taken from the highest-rated ingredient.
  • Comedogenic Rating: All ingredients listed on the INCI Decoder website also come with a comedogenic rating, out of 5. The score for this category is taken from the highest-rated ingredient.

Note: The Irritation and Comedogenic ratings should be seen as a guide only. You can find out more about this here.

You can also learn more about how serums work in our science of serums article, and explore the INCI Decoder and its ratings in our skincare ingredient checker guide.


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