Benefits of Toner & Sunscreen

Dear Laurel: My esthetician recommends that I use a toner after cleansing my face, but I’m not really sure that I need it if I’m using a good cleanser and moisturizer. Would you please tell me the purpose of toner and how it benefits my skin? Vicki ~ Winchester

Dear Vicki: What an excellent question! Out of curiosity, I asked several of my clients if they knew what a toner was and what benefit it has for their skin. Surprisingly most had no idea. Toner is a sensible part of your skin care regimen and is designed to remove excess debris left behind by your cleanser, aid in tightening your pores, and assist in restoring the normal pH balance to your skin. The normal pH level for your face should be somewhere around 5.5, whereas the water you use to cleanse your face has a pH level of approximately 7. It’s important to restore pH to normal levels in order to prevent acne, infection, irritation, and most importantly, to slow down the effects of aging. There are three basic types of toners: fresheners, lotions, and astringents. Fresheners are the mildest of toners and opposite in strength to astringents. They contain virtually no alcohol, aid in balancing the moisture levels, and simply refresh the skin. Lotions, often referred to as clarifying lotions, are considered a medium strength toner and may or may not contain alcohol. If your skin is normal or sensitive, I recommend using a toner that does not contain alcohol. Since alcohol evaporates so easily and is extremely drying, it tends to absorb much needed moisture from the skin. Astringents are the harshest of all toners and most all contain alcohol. They are most suited for the oiliest of skin types, including teenagers suffering from hormonal changes that can bring about an over-production of sebum and acne. If you’re not sure what type of toner you should be using, ask your esthetician, but be sure to include it in your daily skincare routine.

Dear Laurel: I keep getting lectured by my esthetician to wear sunscreen, even during the winter. I don’t spend nearly as much time outdoors as I usually do during the summer months and don’t understand why it’s so important. Can you please help me understand? Barbara ~ Lexington

Dear Barbara: You are not alone in your theory; however, you are wrong to think that sunscreen is not necessary in the winter months. During this time of year the sun is actually closer to the earth, and its rays are even stronger and can be even more damaging to exposed skin. Like water and sand, snow reflects up to 90% of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Despite these facts, most people feel that sunscreen is not essential during the winter months. Even more at risk for sun damage are those who partake in winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding. Being atop a mountain peak brings them that much closer to the sun. Bottom line is, your esthetician is right to lecture you in an attempt to convince you to wear sunscreen, so make it a part of your daily skincare routine and start protecting your skin today.

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