Is Toner Supposed To Sting, Tingle or Burn Your Skin?

I’m pretty sure that title was a bit of a mouthful, but I just wanted to make sure I covered every issue involving toner and your skin. Some people talk about a toner burning their skin, while others might say it stings or tingle but they are all basically talking about the same thing and wondering if it’s normal.

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as you might have expected (I’m sorry) – some toners might cause a slight tingling sensation, while others that are designed to soothe your skin should not burn at all.

Before we start discussing which is which, let’s first talk a bit more about the difference between tingling, burning, and stinging.

Stinging VS Tingling VS Burning

Let me start by saying that a burning sensation should never follow a regular skin care routine, and especially not following a face toner. There are certain spa treatments, such as chemical peels, that might cause tightness and a slight burning sensation in your skin, but they are a bit more aggressive compared to your everyday toner.

As for stinging, though most dermatologists say it shouldn’t happen, we all know that it does sometimes happen, especially when using products that contain alcohol. For example, an aftershave I used to use for many years contained alcohol, and after every use, it stung a bit. Now, should your toner sting? Well, it depends on the type (we will discuss this in the following chapter).

Tingling is, in most cases, considered normal. Certain ingredients in a skin toner may cause slight tingling, and this is ok as long as it does not last too long, and is very mild.

Whichever of these sensations you experience, applying a toner should never cause pain! Should you notice pain, irritation, stinging that just does not go away, you should contact your doctor and see what is going on.

NOTE: this classification only applies to individuals with healthy skin; conditions such as rosacea or eczema require a different approach and are best discussed with your doctor.

Do All Toners Burn?

I already mentioned that some toners might sting a bit, while others don’t, let me explain what I mean by that. As discussed in one of our previous articles (Choosing The Best Facial Toner), we can divide toners into three general categories:

  1. 1
    Hydrating toners – this is the mildest type, containing little (if any) alcohol, designed to hydrate your skin while minimizing the possibility of irritation. If you are using a hydrating toner, you shouldn’t feel any stinging of burning on your skin. If you do, my advice would be to get rid of that toner and try a different brand.
  2. 2
    Mild toners – these are a bit “stronger” and might contain up to 20% alcohol. These are best suited for normal and combination skins and might sting just a little bit.
  3. 3
    Astringents – these are the strongest of the three and can contain the highest alcohol percentages (up to 60%); specifically aimed at helping people combat oily skin (and acne problems). These can sting quite a bit, especially if you have dry skin (in which case I wouldn’t recommend using them).

As you can see, it mainly comes down to the ingredients and its ratio. Higher alcohol percentage indicates a higher possibility a toner might “sting.” You should also take a look at the other ingredients to see if there are any you know don’t go well with your skin type so that you can opt for a different toner altogether.

Can A Toner Cause You To Break Out?

Yes, yes, it can! Pretty much every skincare product can cause your skin to break out because it’s drawing impurities out of your skin. But… as time goes by, your skin should clear out. If it does not, however, it might indicate another problem.

Maybe there is an ingredient that is causing problems, or perhaps the formulation itself does not suit your skin.

So, what then?

If you are persistent and stubborn enough, you can just get a new toner and see if it made any difference.

And if you run out of toners to test out… you can just leave the toner out of your skincare routine!

It’s not a huge deal; your skincare routine can definitely go without it. Just make sure you clean your face properly (use a good face wash) and moisturize your face afterward.

Igor Marcikic
 

I've struggled with acne and oily skin for the better part of my life. Along the way, I've picked up some valuable information, tips, and tricks, which helped me manage my "situation." This website is a way of giving back and trying to help others like me! Enjoy your stay, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments down below. All the best, Igor.

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