Cleanser or Toner First? Unlocking the Secrets to Healthy Skin


Welcome, skincare enthusiasts and curious readers!

Whether you’re a skincare novice or a seasoned expert, I’m here to delve into the world of cleansers and toners and uncover the mysteries beneath their bottles. In this post, we’ll explore together what comes first: cleansers or toners, their differences, and their benefits to your skincare routine. I will also provide tips on choosing the right products for your skin and maximizing their effectiveness. So grab your favorite cup of tea, and let’s embark on this delightful journey to radiant, healthy skin!

In this post:



Every journey begins with a first step. For our skincare pilgrimage, that step is understanding why skincare matters. The skin is our body’s largest organ, a protective barrier against the outside world. Like any other body part, our skin requires nurturing and attention to remain healthy and vibrant.

Secondly, skincare is not just about looking good but feeling good. Clean, radiant skin tells a story of self-care and self-love. We feel good when we look good; positivity radiates from within and impacts every aspect of our lives.

So, whether you’re battling acne, fighting the signs of aging, or working towards maintaining healthy skin, understanding skincare products and their use sequence is crucial. This article guides you through the essential details about cleansers and toners, two fundamental players in most skincare routines.


What is a Cleanser?

1. Purpose: A cleanser is a skincare product that removes dirt, sweat, sebum, makeup, dead skin cells, and other pollutants from your skin. It forms the cornerstone of any skincare regimen. A good cleanser will efficiently rid your skin of dirt and impurities without stripping your skin’s natural oils and causing dryness.

2.Types: There are several types of cleansers, including foaming, cream, gel, oil, and micellar cleansers. Foaming and gel cleansers are ideal for oily and combination skin types, while cream and oil cleansers work best for dry or sensitive skin. Micellar cleansers are gentle and suit almost all skin types.

When choosing your cleanser, the goal isn’t to find the product with the most lavish packaging or the fanciest commercial. Instead, it would help if you prioritized finding a cleanser that suits your skin type and addresses your skin concerns, such as dryness, oiliness, or acne.

3. Usage: Wash your face with lukewarm water. Apply a small amount of cleanser, gently massaging it into your skin in circular motions. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a clean towel.


What is a Toner?

Toner is a skincare product applied after a cleanser and before a moisturizer. Here are three things you should know about toners:

1. Purpose: The purpose of a toner is to restore the skin’s pH balance – which can be disrupted during the cleansing process. It also assists in tightening the pores and removing any traces of dirt or makeup the cleanser might have missed.

2. Types: There are several types of toners: hydrating toners, calming/soothing toners, and astringent toners. Hydrating toners are perfect for dry skin. Calming toners soothe sensitive or irritated skin. Astringent toners are best for oily or acne-prone skin.

3. Usage: Toners should be used after a cleansing routine. You can apply toner using a cotton pad or gently patting it onto your skin.


What is the Difference Between a Cleanser & a Toner?

The Role

While both cleansers and toners play crucial roles in skincare, they serve different purposes. A cleanser’s primary function is to remove dirt, oil, and makeup from the skin. On the other hand, a toner is used after cleansing to help balance the skin’s pH levels and further remove any impurities left behind.

The Application

When it comes to applying these products, cleansers are used first. You apply a cleanser to your face, gently massage it into your skin, and then rinse it with warm water. After the cleansing process, apply the toner. It would help if you did not rinse off the toner; let it soak into your skin.


Benefits of Using Cleanser

Using a cleanser comes with a host of benefits that are too good to ignore:

1Deep Cleansing: Cleansers are designed to dive deep into your pores to dislodge and remove dirt, oil, and makeup.

2. Prevents Acne: By keeping your pores clean, cleansers help to prevent breakouts and acne.

3. Hydrates the Skin: Contrary to popular belief, a good cleanser doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils. Instead, it helps to maintain your skin’s hydration levels. Splashing water on your face might feel refreshing, but a cleanser is your best bet if you want healthier and clearer skin.



Benefits of Using Toner

·      Balances pH Levels

A quick toner spritz can do wonders for your skin by balancing pH levels – this is essential as any disruption in the pH levels can lead to skin issues like acne and dryness.

·      Prepares the Skin

The toner also preps your skin for the next skincare steps. It opens up the pores and makes them more receptive to absorbing serums, creams, and moisturizers.

·      Removes Residue

Lastly, the toner removes any leftover residue from the cleanser. It assures that your face is clean, setting a perfect canvas for the rest of your beauty routine. Using a toner allows your skin to reap the full benefits of your skincare routine.


What is a perfect cleaner and toner based on your skin type?

If your skin is Sensitive 

If you have sensitive skin, you know the struggle of finding skincare products that don’t irritate:

1. Regarding cleansers and toners, opt for products free of fragrances and harsh chemicals, as these can irritate your skin.

2. Look for products with soothing ingredients like chamomile, aloe vera, and green tea.

3. Always do a patch test before trying a new product. Apply the product to a small area of your skin and wait 24 hours to see how your skin reacts. If you notice any redness, itching, or burning, it’s best not to use the product.

4. Finally, remember that less is more concerning sensitive skin. So, stick to a simple skincare routine with minimal products.

Pai Middlemist Seven Gentle Cream Cleanser

Pai Skincare Middlemist Seven Camellia and Rose Gentle Cream Cleanser


Pai Middlemist Seven Gentle Cream Cleanser is a superb cleanser that has quickly become a staple in my skincare routine because it’s gentle yet effective at removing makeup and impurities.

The first thing I noticed about it was its creamy texture. It’s rich and soothing, gliding onto the skin without feeling greasy. Like me, this makes it perfect for sensitive or dry skin because it doesn’t leave your face feeling tight or dry. Instead, it provides a comforting cleanse that leaves your skin feeling soft and refreshed.

Wait to see its ingredient list! It’s packed with nourishing botanicals like damask rose and castor oil, which helps to calm and hydrate the skin while cleansing. These natural ingredients make it safe for everyday use without causing irritation or breakouts.

Another great thing about Pai Skincare is its commitment to clean beauty. This cleanser is free from harsh chemicals like parabens, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances, which can often irritate the skin. It’s also cruelty-free and vegan, which is a big plus if you care about ethical skincare.

I’ve been using this cleanser as part of my nightly skincare routine, and it does a fantastic job of removing makeup, even stubborn mascara. I massage it onto dry skin and then use a warm, damp cloth to wipe it off. It leaves my skin feeling clean but not stripped, which I need.

If you’re looking for a gentle yet effective cleanser, the Pai Middlemist Seven Gentle Cream Cleanser is a must-try. It’s a perfect addition to any skincare routine, whether you have sensitive skin or just want a cleanser that is kind to your face. Give it a try – I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Pai Skincare Century Flower Barrier Defence Mist 

Pai Skincare Century Flower Barrier Defence Mist


I’ve got a new favorite in my skincare collection: the Pai Skincare Century Flower Barrier Defence Mist. You’ll love this one if you’re into facial mists that hydrate and soothe.

What makes it so unique? It’s all in the formula. This mist features the century flower, also known as the cistus flower, with amazing hydrating and calming properties. It’s designed to protect your skin’s barrier, helping it stay resilient against pollution and other environmental stressors.

The mist is super fine, giving you a light and refreshing spritz every time. I like to use it after cleansing and before applying my moisturizer – it makes my skin feel instantly refreshed and ready to absorb the rest of my skincare products. It’s also great for a mid-day hydration boost, especially if you spend a lot of time in dry indoor air or in the sun.

The Century Flower Barrier Defence Mist is alcohol-free, which is fantastic because alcohol can be drying. It also doesn’t contain synthetic fragrances or parabens, making it a solid choice for those with sensitive skin. And, of course, it’s cruelty-free and vegan, which is always a bonus.

After using it for a couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that my skin feels more hydrated and less prone to irritation. It even helps to set my makeup, which is a bonus. The scent is subtle and calming, which I find pleasant.

The Pai Skincare Century Flower Barrier Defence Mist is a beautiful addition to any skincare routine. It’s versatile, gentle, and effective – just what you need for a quick refresh or a barrier-boosting step in your regimen. I recommend picking up a bottle if you haven’t tried it yet. You won’t regret it.


If your skin is Oily 

Here are some tips for choosing cleansers and toners if you have oily skin:

1. Opt for Gel or Foaming Cleansers: These cleansers effectively remove excess oil and impurities from your skin.

2. Look for Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree( you should never apply it directly onto your skin): These ingredients can help control oil production and treat acne.

3. Choose an Alcohol-Free Toner: Alcohol can strip your skin of its natural oils, causing it to produce more oil. So, it’s best to avoid toners with alcohol.


SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel

SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel


Let me introduce you to a cleanser that’s been gaining much attention: the SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel. This product is designed to offer a deep cleanse while exfoliating and targeting blemishes, which makes it a popular choice for those who want to keep their skin clear and smooth.

The first thing to note about this cleanser is its gel texture, which creates a light lather that helps remove dirt, oil, and impurities from the skin. It’s formulated with lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA), a type of salicylic acid known for its gentle exfoliating properties. This allows it to cleanse deeply without causing excessive dryness or irritation.

SkinCeuticals is a brand that’s known for its science-based approach to skincare. The LHA Cleanser Gel also contains glycolic and salicylic acids, which work together to exfoliate and help unclog pores. Despite the potent ingredients, this cleanser is designed to be used daily and can be a great addition to your skincare routine.

One of the benefits of this cleanser is its versatility. You can use it morning and night, and it can work as the first step in your skincare routine, preparing your skin for serums, moisturizers, and other products. The light citrus scent is refreshing, adding to the overall experience.

If you’re looking for a cleanser that balances effective exfoliation with gentle cleansing, the SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel could be a solid choice. It’s designed to help maintain clear skin and reduce the appearance of blemishes and pores.

This cleanser could be a great addition to any skincare routine, especially if you want a product that combines cleansing with mild exfoliation. It might be worth trying if it aligns with your skincare goals.


SkinCeuticals LHA Toner

SkinCeuticals LHA Toner


When it comes to toners that offer exfoliation and help maintain clear skin, SkinCeuticals LHA Toner stands out. This product is designed to refine the skin’s texture and unclog pores, making it a great addition to your skincare routine if you aim for a smoother, more even complexion.

The key ingredient in this toner is lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA), a derivative of salicylic acid known for its gentle exfoliating properties. LHA removes dead skin cells from the surface while also penetrating pores to clear out excess oil and impurities. This dual-action approach makes it effective in reducing blackheads and breakouts.

In addition to LHA, this toner contains glycolic acid and salicylic acid, enhancing its exfoliating power. Despite the potent ingredients, the toner is designed to be gentle enough for regular use. It helps to refine the skin’s texture without causing excessive dryness or irritation.

One of the things I appreciate about the SkinCeuticals LHA Toner is its versatility. You can use it as part of your morning or evening skincare routine, and it’s suitable for various skin types. The lightweight formula absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a sticky residue, which is a bonus if you prefer a fresh, clean feel after toning.

After using it for a few weeks, many users notice reduced breakouts and improved skin texture. It also helps balance oil production, which can benefit those with oily or combination skin. The toner has a subtle scent that isn’t overpowering, adding to the overall pleasant experience.

In summary, SkinCeuticals LHA Toner is an excellent choice for anyone looking to incorporate gentle exfoliation into their skincare routine. It offers effective cleansing and helps improve the skin’s overall texture and appearance. This one is worth considering if you’re in the market for a toner that targets breakouts and refines pores.


If your skin is Dry 

When you have dry skin, your goal should be to moisturize and protect its barrier.

1. Cream or lotion cleansers are best suited for dry skin because they help to hydrate and soothe the skin.

2. Avoid cleansers with high alcohol content or sulfates, as these can strip your skin of its natural oils, making it drier.

3. Similarly, for toners, choose a hydrating formula that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or aloe vera. Avoid toners with alcohol, which can be drying.

4. Finally, moisturize your skin after cleansing and toning to lock in hydration and keep your skin feeling soft and supple.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm


If you’re looking for a cleansing balm that feels like a spa treatment at home, let me introduce you to Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm. This product has quickly become a favorite in my skincare routine, and here’s why you’ll love it, too!

The first thing that caught my attention was the luxurious texture. This cleansing balm is rich and buttery, making it a dream to apply. As you massage it onto your skin, it melts into an oil, effortlessly dissolving makeup, dirt, and impurities. It’s perfect for that end-of-day cleanse when you want to remove everything and feel refreshed.

The key ingredient in this balm is algae extract, known for its hydrating and anti-aging properties. It’s also infused with nourishing oils like elderberry, starflower, and optima, which work together to leave your skin feeling soft and supple. I love that it’s gentle enough for daily use but still effective at deep cleansing.

Another aspect that stands out is the scent. It’s a calming mix of essential oils like lavender and chamomile, making the cleansing process a relaxing ritual. This product turns your bathroom into a mini spa, which is always a plus in my book.

After using the Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm for a few weeks, I’ve significantly improved my skin’s texture and hydration. It doesn’t strip the skin of its natural oils, which is crucial if you have dry or sensitive skin. Instead, it leaves a soft, nourished finish perfect for layering with your favorite serums and moisturizers.

One of my favorite things about this balm is its versatility. You can use it as a regular cleanser or leave it on for a few minutes as a nourishing mask for an extra boost of hydration. It also comes with a soft cleansing cloth, which is excellent for gentle exfoliation.

Overall, if you’re looking for a cleansing balm that does it all cleanses, nourishes, and leaves your skin feeling amazing, Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm is worth a try. It’s a bit of a splurge, but the results are worth it. Trust me, you’ll want to keep this in your skincare rotation.


The Sunday Riley Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence

Sunday Riley Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence

The Sunday Riley Pink Drink Firming Resurfacing Essence is one of those products that instantly elevates your skincare routine. This essence is designed to firm, resurface, and hydrate your skin, all in a lightweight and refreshing formula.

One of the standout features of this essence is its unique combination of ingredients. It contains peptides known for their firming and anti-aging properties, along with ceramides to support the skin’s barrier. Green tea and other antioxidants provide additional protection against environmental stressors.

The texture of the Pink Drink is light and easily absorbed, making it perfect for layering with other products. A couple of spritzes give your skin an instant boost of hydration without feeling sticky or heavy. It’s ideal for prepping the skin before applying serums and moisturizers or for a quick refresh throughout the day.

Sunday Riley is a brand that focuses on effective, science-based skincare, and this essence reflects that philosophy. The formula is clean and free from harmful chemicals like parabens and sulfates. It’s also cruelty-free, which is always a plus for ethical skincare enthusiasts.

After using it for a few weeks, many users report feeling firmer and more radiant. The essence helps to even out the skin’s texture, giving you a smoother canvas for makeup application. The subtle rose scent is pleasant without overpowering, adding a touch of luxury to your skincare routine.

What I appreciate about the Pink Drink is its versatility. You can use it as part of your morning and evening routines or even carry it for a quick spritz during the day. It’s gentle enough for daily use and suitable for various skin types.

This is, without a doubt, is a fantastic addition to any skincare regimen. It’s firming and hydrating, perfect for improving skin texture and radiance. This one is worth trying if you’re in the market for an essence that delivers on its promises.

Cleanser and Toner

How Cleansers and Toners Work

Understanding how cleansers and toners work is the key to unlocking the secret of their proper usage. As mentioned, a cleanser removes the grime on your skin’s surface. It unclogs the pores and prevents the build-up of impurities.

On the other hand, a toner adds an extra layer of cleansing and helps restore the skin’s natural pH level, which often gets disturbed by using a cleanser. Besides, the toner provides a hydration boost and preps the skin for better absorption of the subsequent skincare products.

Applying a toner without cleansing will lay it over dirt and oil, making it less effective. Conversely, if you cleanse without following up with a toner, you risk disrupting your skin’s pH balance and hindering the absorption of other skincare products. Therefore, the correct order in your skincare routine should be cleansing first, then applying a toner.


When to Use: Cleanser vs. Toner

Here is the proper sequence to apply cleanser and toner:

1. Cleanse First: Start your skincare routine with a cleanser. Massage it gently into your skin for about a minute, then rinse with lukewarm water.

2. Tone Second: After cleansing, apply a toner. Soak a cotton pad with the toner and gently wipe it over your face. Alternatively, you can dispense the toner into your hands and pat it on your skin.

3. Follow Up: Follow up with the rest of your skincare routine – this usually includes, in order, a serum, an eye cream, and a moisturizer.


How to Choose the Right Cleanser & Toner for Your Skin

Choosing the right cleanser and toner for your skin type is crucial to achieving a smooth, glowing complexion. Here are a few tips to guide you:

1. Understand Your Skin Type: The first step to choosing the right products is to know your skin type. Do you have oily, dry, combination, or sensitive skin? Once you understand your skin type, you can choose products that address your needs. If you have dry skin, look for a hydrating cleanser and a toner that doesn’t contain alcohol, as it can dry your skin further. For oily skin, opt for a cleanser that can effectively remove excess oil without over-drying your skin and a toner with astringent properties to help control oil production.

2. Read The Ingredients: Always read the ingredients list. Avoid products that contain harsh chemicals or irritants, especially if you have sensitive skin. Look for ingredients that suit your skin type. For example, look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid if you have dry skin.

3. Seek Professional Advice: If you need help deciding what products to use, consult a dermatologist or a skincare expert. With my extensive experience in natural beauty and aromatherapy, I will also, through my blog posts, do my best to help you pick the most suitable products for your skin. They can provide personalized advice based on your skin type and concerns.


How Often Should Cleansers and Toners Be Used

The general rule of thumb is to cleanse and tone your face twice daily – once in the morning and once at night before bed. However, this may vary depending on your skin type and its needs.

For instance, you may benefit from cleansing and toning more often if you have oily or acne-prone skin. On the other hand, if your skin is dry or sensitive, over-cleansing and toning could strip your skin of its natural oils and cause irritation. It’s always best to listen to your skin and adjust your skincare routine accordingly.                                                                                 

                                  Common Mistakes When Using Cleanser and Toner

Common Mistakes Why it’s Wrong How to Correct It
Using Too Much Product Overloading your skin with product can irritate it and lead to breakouts. Use only the recommended amount of product. A pea-sized amount of cleanser and a few drops of toner should suffice.
Skipping Toner Toner balances your skin’s pH and preps it for better absorption of other products. Without it, your skincare routine is incomplete. Always follow up cleansing with a toner.
Not Applying in the Right Order Applying toner before cleanser won’t be as effective as the cleanser will simply wash it off. Always cleanse first, then apply a toner.

By removing these common mistakes, you can ensure that your skin reaps the maximum benefits from both cleanser and toner.

In conclusion, understanding your skincare products and how to use them correctly plays a vital role in achieving healthy and radiant skin. Your skin requires both – a cleanser and a toner – to function at its best. But remember, the cleanser comes first, followed by the toner. Now, that’s one less skincare mystery to worry about. 🙂


***IMPORTANT: Whatever facial cleanser you use mustn’t dry your skin. How will you know that it doesn’t dry out? When you’re done cleansing, wait 15 minutes without putting anything else on your face to see if your skin tightens; if it does, change the cleanser.

Good cleansing means that when the cleansing is finished on the towel or pad, there are no more traces of impurity.


Professional Tips for Choosing the Best Cleanser and Toner

1. Identify your main skin concerns when choosing a cleanser and toner. Is it acne, aging, dryness, oiliness, or sensitivity- this will guide you in picking products with the necessary ingredients to address your skin concerns.

2. Remember that the most expensive products aren’t necessarily the best. High-quality, affordable options are available.

3. When testing new products, give them time to work. It may take a few weeks or even months to see noticeable improvements. So, be patient.

Understanding cleansers and toners is the first step toward a flawless complexion. Remember, choosing the right products for your skin type and needs can make all the difference.

Take your time, and don’t rush the process. Your skin is unique; what works for others may not work for you.

So, experiment with different products and routines until you find what works best for your skin. With patience and consistency, you’re bound to find the perfect cleanser and toner duo for your skin.


Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Cleanser & Toner

1. Cleanse your face twice a day: Start by cleansing your face in the morning to remove any dirt, oil, and sweat that may have accumulated overnight. Then, cleanse your face again in the evening to remove makeup, pollutants, and impurities from the day.

2. Use a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type: Choose a cleanser specifically formulated for your skin type, whether oily, dry, combination, or sensitive. Avoid harsh cleaners that strip away natural oils and disrupt your skin’s balance.

3. Choose the right cleanser for the right occasion: Did you know there are different cleansers for different purposes? For example, if you’re dealing with breakouts, a cleanser with salicylic acid can be beneficial. A hydrating cleanser with ingredients like hyaluronic acid could be your go-to if your skin feels dry.

4. Follow the double cleansing method: If you wear heavy makeup or sunscreen, consider incorporating the double cleansing method into your routine. First, use an oil-based cleanser to dissolve and remove makeup and a water-based cleanser to cleanse your skin deeply.

5. Avoid hot water while cleansing: Use lukewarm water instead of hot water to wash your face. Hot water can strip away moisture and make your skin dry and irritated.

6. Don’t rush; gently massage your face during cleansing: Use your fingertips to massage the cleanser onto your face in circular motions-it helps to stimulate blood circulation, remove dead skin cells, and improve the absorption of skincare products. Take your time when you cleanse and tone. Massage the cleanser into your skin thoroughly, and allow the toner to absorb fully before moving on to the next step in your routine.

7. Pat dry your face with a clean towel: After rinsing off the cleanser, gently dry your face with a clean towel. Avoid rubbing your skin vigorously, which can cause irritation and disrupt your skin’s natural barrier.

8. Follow up with toner and moisturizer: The next step is to apply a toner to rebalance your skin’s pH levels and prepare it for further skincare products. Follow up with a moisturizer to hydrate and nourish your skin. Choose a moisturizer that suits your skin type and concerns.

9. Exfoliate regularly but gently: Incorporate exfoliation into your skincare routine, but be mindful of not overdoing it. Exfoliate 1-2 times weekly to remove dead skin cells and reveal a smoother complexion. Use a gentle exfoliator suitable for your skin type to avoid irritation.

10. Don’t forget to cleanse your neck and décolletage: Extend your cleansing routine beyond your face and include your neck and décolletage. These areas are often neglected but can show signs of aging and sun damage.

11. Wash your hands before touching your face: Before starting your skincare routine, wash your hands thoroughly to remove any dirt, bacteria, or germs-it helps prevent the transfer of unwanted substances to your face.

12. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize: Cleansing is essential, but moisturizing is equally crucial. After cleansing, apply a suitable moisturizer to lock in hydration and maintain your skin’s natural moisture balance. Remember, well-hydrated skin is happy skin! Consistency is key when it comes to skincare habits. Stick to this routine and adjust it based on your skin’s response.

13. Mind the Expiry Date: Skincare products don’t last forever. Even if you have not used the product, it’s time to replace it if it’s past its expiry date. Expired products may not only be less effective but could also cause skin irritations.

14. Consistency is Key: Skincare isn’t a one-time event. It’s a daily commitment. Even the best products will yield insignificant results if used sporadically. Stick to your routine, and you’ll see improvements over time.

15. Finally, take into account the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can drastically improve the health of your skin.

Congratulations! You’re now armed with the knowledge to properly cleanse your skin and avoid common mistakes. By following these friendly yet clever tips, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a radiant and healthy complexion.


In the quest for radiant skin, understanding skincare fundamentals is crucial. With your newfound knowledge of cleansers and toners, you’re one step closer to unveiling your skin’s natural beauty. Remember, skincare is a journey, not a destination. The key is consistency, using the right products for your skin type, and loving your skin.

Proper skin cleansing is the foundation for healthy and radiant skin. So, follow these tips, be kind to your skin, and let your natural beauty shine through. Happy cleansing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Image by Freepik

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