Is Toner Supposed to Burn, Tingle, or Sting Your Skin?

Toners are skin care products usually in the form of liquid wash or tonics which remove dirt and impurities such as remaining makeup from the skin.

These chemical solutions also tighten skin pores, helping the skin appear young and healthy.

They also help regulate the pH level of your skin, giving it a smoother tone. Skin toners keep the skin fresh, moist and luxuriant.

Several users of skin toners, however, often complain of feeling burns or stings when they apply toners. Is this normal? How can it be prevented? This article answers these questions and more.

Categories of Toners

Toners come in a wide variety of sizes, brands, and forms. However, they are typically categorized according to the strength of their chemical ingredients. Here are some common types of toners.


With very high levels of alcohol content, astringents are the strongest form of toners available. They help dry and manage excessive skin oil.

However, this type of toners can cause skin irritation due to the strong alcoholic content in them.

Exfoliating toners

These contain acids that take out dead cells on the skin’s surface.

Mild skin tonics

These are best suited for regular or non-sensitive skin. They feature a much lesser amount of alcohol.

Hydrating toners

This category of toners contains very negligible amounts of alcohol or none at all. They are, therefore, unlikely to cause skin irritation, making them good for the use of persons with sensitive skin.

Is Toner Burn Normal?

If you experience tingling or burning sensations after applying skin toners, you are not alone. Many other users report the same sensations.

Experts are generally of the opinion that skincare products, as a rule, should not hurt at all. However, it is true that alcohol-based products such as aftershaves can cause mild burning sensations.

It is, therefore, not unusual for users of toners, especially those with significant levels of alcohol content, to experience slight burns.

This sensation, however, should be mild and temporary, lasting around the length of time it takes for your body to absorb the toner.

If you feel intense and long-lasting burning, it is best to rinse the toner off your body immediately and discontinue its use until you get medical advice on the matter.

Reasons Why You May Experience Toner Burns

Here are some factors that may lead to skin irritation after applying toners.

Strong chemical components

As explained earlier, skin toners vary according to the level of chemical concentration. Toners with high levels of alcohol content such as astringents can easily irritate the skin, causing burning.

Furthermore, glycolic acid and other active ingredients, if present in great concentrations, can make one’s skin barrier weak, making the skin more susceptible to burning.

Combination with wrong skincare products

Some toners can be harmful to the skin when used along with certain other skin care products. Be sure to confirm with your dermatologist which product(s) match your toner.

Sensitive skin/ allergies

Some people’s skin may react negatively to the application of certain chemical ingredients.

Be sure to carry out the patch test before applying any skin toners to verify that the particular toner you wish to use is compatible with your skin.

Furthermore, you are likely to experience irritation if you have eczema or some other skin condition.

Constant use of toners

While toners are highly beneficial to the skin’s health, they can have quite the opposite effect when they are used too consistently.

Applying skin toners, especially those with high levels of harsh chemicals, every day can lead to burning. It is advisable to go without toners every other day.

Application on wet skin

It is best to apply toners to dry skin. When your skin is wet, the chemicals contained in the toner sink into your skin more easily, which might cause irritation and burning.

When applying toners after a bath, be sure to dry your skin properly beforehand. Moreover, it is wise not to apply skin toners on your face just after scrubbing it.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Toner Burns

Here are some precautionary measures you can carry out to ensure that you stay safe from toner burns.

Pre-application test

A day or two before you apply your skin toner, rub a little portion of it on a small part of your skin. If there are no negative skin reactions on that spot, you can be sure that your skin is compatible with that skin toner.

Always check the ingredients list

Your skin toners should come with a label stating what chemical agents were used in producing them. If you have sensitive skin, you want to avoid those with high concentrations of harsh chemicals.

It is advisable to seek guidance from a medical professional in reaching a decision on this.

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