The Difference Between Toners and Lotions in Skincare

The Difference Between Toners and Lotions in Skincare

If you are one of those who call any skincare product that comes in a spray or mist package by the name of toner, you’re probably calling your skincare products by the wrong name. But don’t panic, you are not alone and it is not your fault. Even the insiders in the skincare and beauty industry mix up the terminology of these two products. If you can’t figure out the difference between toners and lotions, take a deep breath and keep reading.  

Toners and lotions are similar in the sense that they all have been formulated to use right after cleansing your skin. But that does not make them be the same thing. So what are the differences?


A lotion is a facial product that has been designed to use after cleansing the skin to prepare and prime the skin for serums and heavier moisturizing creams that come next in the skincare routine. Lotions restore the hydrolipidic layer and the pH. Lotions are ideal for oily, sensitive or dry skin; as they do not stimulate the skin unlike tonics. 


Toners are usually described as slightly astringent lotions formulated to clean and refresh the skin or invigorate the hair. A toner is a skincare product for the face that has been formulated to tone and revitalize. Most toners are astringent and focused on removing excess oil, and that’s why toners aren’t recommended for sensitive, dry or oily skins, since it is very important that the sebaceous gland is not further stimulated. Toners are recommended for skin that needs stimulation such as dull, tired or mature skin.

Toner vs. Lotion in a nutshell

  • Toner is a lighter liquid which offers hydration and restores balance to the skin.
  • The toner family includes astringents, which are also water-based, but do include alcohol and are used to control excess oil and minimize pores.
  • Lotion does not contain alcohol and has been formulated to hydrate your skin. It’s a more gentle product and can be soothing for sensitive skin.
  • Lotions prepare the skin according to each specific need of the skin, being considered the first step of the treatment.
  • Both balance the pH of the skin
  • They do not serve to finish removing the product, previously the skin must be perfectly clean.
  • Depending on our skin type or needs we will choose lotions or toners. Toners aren’t recommended for acne-prone or sensitive skin. 
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