Woman washing up in the morning

When we consider our already-overflowing beauty cabinets, filled to the brim with all sorts of skincare products that each promise healthy, beautiful-looking skin, we have to wonder: do we really need more products? In this case, that answer might be yes, especially if your face is prone to excess oil and pesky blackheads. A refining toner could help.

There are several types of refining toners on the market, including some that are sold on their own and others that are part of a three-step kit. Keep in mind, though, just because you want to get rid of your oily skin fast doesn't mean you should overdo it on the toner. By moderately applying toner, you'll successfully get the upper hand back on your oily skin. Here's how.

How often should I apply refining toner?

If your skin has been struggling a lot lately, you might want to spread this sucker as much as you can on your face—and often. But before you do that, follow this general rule: listen to the instructions on the back of your toner bottle to determine how often you should apply toner. Keep in mind that the directions are generic and usually take only the skin types of the general public into account, not your individual skin type.

For instance, if you have excessively oily skin in your T-zone, but dry or fair skin on your cheeks, don't apply toner everywhere twice a day even if the bottle tells you to do so in the step-by-step directions. Often the toner will list a disclaimer or warning suggesting that you apply smaller amounts of toner less frequently in areas that tend to become dry or reddish.

How do I apply refining toner?

Now for the fun part. Most toners can be applied with a cotton ball, thin cotton round, or other bath tissue. Some toners come in liquid form while others come in lotion form. You can use your fingers to apply toner lotions, but it's best to use some sort of soft disposable cotton to apply liquid toner as it's usually as runny as water (trying to catch that liquid in your hands is no bueno).

Some toners, such as Proactive Revitalizing Toner, recommend applying toner after a thorough cleansing wash both morning and night. However, Proactive recommends discontinuing use and consulting a doctor in the event that your face gets irritated or breaks out. This is the standard protocol for most toners. So as a general rule, apply toner twice daily, but only after cleansing your face and removing makeup.

Are the harsh ingredients safe on my skin?

One of the biggest pros of using toner is they help you control excessive oil on your face and tighten wrinkles. However, some toners contain harsh astringents, such as alcohol or large quantities of water, both of which can strip necessary oil from your face and actually induce a greater frequency of acne. Yikes. Always look at the ingredients and try to avoid products with alcohol in them. Witch hazel is typically a good alternative because many toners are formulated using this ingredient instead of alcohol.

Keep this in mind: the harsher the toner, the less often you should use it. If you decide to use a toner with alcohol, start by using it only once a day instead of the recommended twice daily routine. Consider pairing it with a gentle cleansing solution and oil-free moisturizer to calm the effects of any harsh astringents.

If you're sick of carrying around copious amounts of blotting papers to reduce your oily skin or watching endless YouTube videos for tips on how to remove your blackheads, a refining toner just might be the best solution.