toner or serum
  • Skin care

Time to tone it down: toner or serum?

Still using a toner? Here we reveal why now is the time to consider whether toning is still right for your skin.

By Hannah Mepham

5 Minute read

Once a common feature in our skin care regimes, facial toners are increasingly being ditched in favour of skin-soothing serums.

Wondering what to use instead of a toner? Here we reveal why now is the time to consider whether toning is still right for your skin and what the alternatives are.

What is facial toner?

Designed to be used after a cleanser, toners help to remove excess oil, make-up and dirt from the skin. Many also claim to close pores on the skin surface and help rebalance the skin’s delicate pH balance after cleansing.

However, pores cannot physically open and close as they don’t have muscles, and advances in beauty formulations mean that traditional toners are becoming more and more redundant in our skin care routines.

Does my skin need toner?

The reality is that if you’re using a skin care routine that is rich in plant actives, you should not need to use a toner.

Whilst toners can be an effective way of removing excess dirt, this can be also be achieved through using a good cleanser, such as Green People Gentle Cleanse & Make-Up Remover, which is moisture-binding and made with anti-inflammatory actives.

natural cleanser

On occasions when you need to remove stubborn make-up, double cleansing or using a mist should enable you to remove all traces of make-up without exposing your skin to an astringent toner.

As for using a toner to rebalance the skin’s pH balance, this is no longer considered necessary. A good cleanser will contain pH plant actives that help rebalance the skin as you cleanse.

Skin is slightly acidic and for this reason you should always look for products that have a similar pH as the skin they are being applied to.

All Green People products are designed to complement the pH of the part of the body they are designed to be used on - in most cases between pH4.5 and pH5.5. Our skin is healthiest at this level because its barrier function is most effective; harmful pathogenic bacteria are inhibited, and beneficial bacteria are encouraged.

But I love that tight feeling my toner gives me?

Some women like the fact that toner leaves their face tight and smooth. But that tight, tingly sensation is often caused by alcohol and actually indicates dryness which can aggravate sensitive skin.

Splashing the face with cold water is a simple way of achieving this quite effectively without harsh ingredients.

Time to swap to a serum

In recent years beauty experts have increasingly recommended that we consider swapping toners for skin-kind serums.

Reasoning behind this varies but concerns have grown that toners that are high in alcohol could irritate sensitive skin.

Many also believe that due to advances in cleanser formulations and pH levels, toners are no longer necessary and can actually do more harm to the skin than good.

Shop natural toner alternatives 


If you have mature skin you may be tempted to use toner to keep your skin hydrated so that wrinkles appear diminished but you can achieve intense rehydration and smooth skin by using a toner rich in plant actives.

Green People’s Age Defy + Hydrate & Renew Serum is enriched with 21 beauty-enhancing actives that not only intensely hydrate, but also increase skin firmness and elasticity.

This multi-purpose product also makes a great make-up primer when combined with our Age Defy + Cell Enrich Facial Oil.

Multi-purpose alternative to toner

For a multi-purpose product try Green People’s Hydrating Firming Serum. An anti-ageing serum, this 2-in-1 serum and toner is designed to hydrate and plump the skin to help lock in moisture and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Plant based and made without ethyl alcohol, this organic serum works very well for all skin types, even very dry skin.


If you have sensitive skin, it is even more important that you use an alcohol-free serum. Green People’s Scent Free Hydrating Calming Serum for sensitive skin contains neither ethyl alcohol/ethanol nor fragrance.

Instead, it contains a skin-kind combination of calming Chamomile, hydrating Green Marine Macro Algae, anti-inflammatory Marshmallow and moisturising Aloe Vera to help hydrate and regenerate the skin.

Have you switched from toner to serum? Let us know @GreenPeopleUK on social or get advice from our friendly UK customer care team on 01403 740350.

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