Toner Before or After Exfoliating? Which Goes First?

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Are you confused about which product to use first on your face? You are not alone. With so many different skincare products in the market, it is confusing to know what order to do everything!

Although most of us know you have to cleanse first and then use a moisturizing cream as the final product, those in-between steps are a blur.

For example, do you use a toner before or after exfoliating? Should you use toner or exfoliant first?

If you’re using a physical exfoliant, apply your toner after. If you’re using a chemical exfoliant, use your toner first.

The way you exfoliate matters in your order. We’ll explain in more detail below


Ways To Exfoliate The Face

Want to achieve a healthy glow on your face? One of the ways to do that is to exfoliate your skin. Exfoliation helps remove the dead skin cells sitting on top of your skin. These can cause dullness of the skin and when removed will expose healthier-looking skin. 

Exfoliation can bring good results. However, if done incorrectly, your skin can become irritated, reddish, and flaking. You must remember to always be gentle on your skin, especially when exfoliating it. There are actually two types of skin exfoliation. One is through the mechanical or physical method and the other is through a chemical method. 

Mechanical Exfoliation

Facial Brush

A physical exfoliant will manually remove the dead skin cells on the face by rubbing or buffing them off. Usually, a sonic facial cleansing brush like this one , can be used to gently do this.

Of course, a washcloth  can also be used for this method but you must be careful not to do it harshly. Whatever physical exfoliator you use, make sure you follow instructions and don’t overdo it.

Chemical Exfoliation

AHA Chemical Exfoliant

Another way to exfoliate the skin on the face is to use chemical exfoliants. Chemical exfoliation may sound harsh because of the use of chemicals. However, the chemicals used are really gentle on the face. This is actually a gentler way to exfoliate the skin.

Chemical exfoliants can contain gentle acids like Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) , No products found., or glycolic acids.

These acids will dissolve the dead skin cells to reveal newer skin that looks like it glows. 

Toner Before Or After Exfoliating?

Facial Toner

Going back to our main question, do you use the toner before or after exfoliating? Well, that would depend on the type of exfoliation that you are using.

Use a Physical Exfoliator Before Toner

If you are using a physical exfoliant, you should exfoliate first and then use your toner 

If you are using a physical exfoliant, you should exfoliate first and then use your toner.

Before anything else, make sure you clean your face thoroughly. You should also remove any oil or residue that has been on sitting on your skin before you attempt to exfoliate it in any way. 

After cleansing, you can now exfoliate your skin manually. Select the best method for manual exfoliation for yourself.

Manual exfoliation can be done daily if you use a silicone cleaning brush. However, most people limit exfoliation to a few times a week especially if it is done through manual methods. 

After manual exfoliation, you can use your toner. The toner is useful at further helping remove other impurities in the skin after exfoliation. Additionally, the toner can also help soothe the skin that could be irritated with the manual exfoliation that you’ve just done.

 As an aside, micellar water works in a similar way.

Some toners will hydrate and give a dewy finish, such as some dupes of MAC Fix Plus .

Use a Chemical Exfoliator After Toner

On the other hand, if you are going to use a chemical exfoliant like an acid, apply your toner before exfoliating. The toner can help prep the skin so that the acids can better work the skin cells.

If you are going to use a chemical exfoliant like an acid, apply your toner before exfoliating.

Additionally, the toner can also help remove any creamy residue your cleanser could have left on your face. That makes your skin better exposed to chemical exfoliants. 

What To Do After Exfoliating

Exfoliating the skin is just the process of removing the dead skin cells. You still need to take good care of your skin to achieve that glow you have been wishing for. After exfoliation, it is important that you moisturize your skin.

The hydrating cream will further help soothe your skin and prevent it from drying out due to exfoliation.

Aside from keeping the skin hydrated, you should also make sure that it is protected from other environmental damage like ultraviolet rays.

Always use sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun and you’re headed outside. Even if it looks cloudy outdoors, you should still make sure that your skin is adequately protected by not missing out on sunscreen. 

Common Mistakes To Avoid While Exfoliating

Exfoliating is a great step to add further improve your skincare routine. One of the most common mistakes is not using a toner before or after exfoliation. We’ve now learned that toners are great before chemical exfoliation and after physical exfoliation. 

Another mistake you could be making is exfoliating too often. If your skin always stings or if you experience redness often, you might be exfoliating too often.

Remember that exfoliation can be drying can cause inflammation, irritation, and redness. If you overdo it often, your skin could age prematurely. 

Additionally, if you have acne-prone skin, you should also avoid using scrubs or manual exfoliators. That could only worsen your condition because it spreads the bacteria. Instead, look toward dermaplaning or light therapy for acne.

If you want to manually exfoliate, use a cleansing cloth gently and avoid areas of breakout. 

Final Thoughts

Exfoliation is a great addition to your skincare routine. However, you should also know how to fit it into your routine. If you are going to use physical exfoliators, it is best done before using a toner. Toners could be used afterward to help soothe the skin. 

On the other hand, if you are to use chemical exfoliators, toners are best applied before exfoliating. They can help prep the skin so that it can better react with the chemical exfoliators.

No matter what exfoliating procedure you use, it is best not to overdo it, moisturize the skin afterward and avoid areas with current acne breakouts. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).