Toner is the Marmite of the beauty world – you either swear by it as an essential step in your skincare regime or can’t understand the hype. But according to one expert, we should be paying much closer attention to the power of toner if we want glowing skin.
As Ada Ooi, who is the founder of 001 Skincare and an expert on all things glow, explains: “Toner has had a bad reputation for not contributing anything to a skincare routine. Since double cleansing has boomed, it leaves even less room for toner but I’ve been trying to push for a toner renaissance since 2015.”
That’s exactly why Ada is backing the Koreans’ latest skincare trend: the 7 skin method, which involves using a series of seven (yes, seven!) different toners to give you ‘new skin’ after cleansing.
As Ada explains, toners have had a major overhaul in recent years and are now formulated with lots of hydrants and a slightly acidic pH that mimics the skin. “Some of them are also infused with antioxidants, vitamins or minerals – all products that give you new skin right after cleansing,” she said.
So how do you carry out the ‘7 skin method’ at home?
According to Ada, you can use either one or seven (!) different toners depending on your skin, the different formulations and textures of the toners.
All you do is dispense your toner(s) of choice into your palm, using patting, tapping or pressing motions to push all the hydrants into your skin, softening the skin and really filling up the epidermis with water molecules. Repeat this seven times.
“With each layer you apply, you’re making the humectants (the stuff that keeps skin juicy) in the formula work harder and harder. Humectants work like a water magnet by absorbing water molecules from the ambience to the epidermis.”
A humectant is like hyaluronic acid, which can absorb and retain a huge amount of water within the cells of skin. The more water content you layer, the more that’s going to be absorbed and retained, giving a genuinely water-pumped and plumped complexion, so juicy that it becomes very light-reflecting with a glowy translucence.
If you’re getting bored by step 4, don’t fret because Ada says seven layers is just a rule of thumb but you can stop at 4, 5 or 6 when you feel your skin is already well hydrated. “You don’t necessarily need to do this every day; if you’ve problematic skin, I suggest you to start with every other day,” she adds.
If you’re using more than one toner, here’s how to layer…
If you’re using more than one toner, Ada says you want to build it from lighter to thicker texture. “To start with, you might not want to go as excessive as using seven different toners but I would recommend to have at least two to three if you want to do this as an am or pm routine.
“If you prefer using toners with retinol, acids or witch hazel, make sure you only keep that to one product and apply it only in the first layer and let it do its job. Also avoid alcohol; you don’t want to overwhelm your skin with layers and layers of harsh and drying ingredients. Be mindful with formulas with light-sensitive ingredients like Vitamin C or citrus extracts make sure you apply an SPF after layering them.”
What benefits does the 7 skin method have?
Ada says this regime is great for rectifying skin issues by rebuilding a strong natural barrier – and that the application process of patting and pressing is so invigorating that it naturally stimulates blood circulation bringing oxygen and nutrients to the skin.
She also adds that if you’ve oily/acne prone skin and have never been sure which moisturiser to plump for out of fear of it clogging your pores and worsening your spots, this technique will give your skin plenty of hydration.
“If you’ve got dry skin, needless to say this regime is going to be deeply hydrating but humectants can also be evaporating into the air drawing moisture out of your skin therefore I’d suggest to either apply an oil or moisturiser at the end of the ritual,” she suggests.
Which are the best toners to use in the 7 skin method?
“There are so many toners that I would love to recommend but to keep it simple and get you into trying a few, here are some of my top recommendations with simple hydrating and soothing formulations with varied textures and viscosity – from thin watery to more cushioning emulsion formulas. A rule of thumb is the oilier your skin, the more watery texture you want and the other way round for drier skin, but you can always mix and match…”
Watery toner textures
Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner, £21.60
A refreshing toner enriched with 80% Jeju Green Tea Extract
001 Skincare London Pure Rosa Damascena Mist, £60An ultra soothing and balancing mist form toner with first batch, precious rose water and essential oil
Light essence texture
AHC Aqualuronic Toner, £203 different types of hyaluronic acids with ceremides, although quite watery it gives a hefty amount of hydration and moisturisation
Curél Moisture Facial Lotion Enrich, £17.50
Light and simple glycerin hydrating fluid gel toner with soothing ingredients
Whamisa Organic Flowers Toner Deep Rich, £43
Almost like a serum consistency and packs a punch of humectants and skin soothers including aloe vera, crysanthemum (used in Asia for cooling heated, inflamed or sensitive skin or bodily conditions) plus Argan oil, dandelion extracts and fermented fugus.