Japanese Toners—The Skincare Step You May Be Missing

DHC's Japanese Toners

Thought you knew toners? J-beauty’s take on toners will rock your regimen.

A good-quality facial toner is an essential component of the Japanese skincare routine, and Japanese women view toner as a vital pre-moisturiser step.

Japanese toning lotion is still pretty misunderstood in the West: try googling “Japanese toner” and your top result is likely to direct you to printer supplies. But take the time to learn more about this essential component in the Japanese skincare process and your skin might surprise you, appearing visibly more plump, dewy and hydrated.

Do I call it a toner or a lotion?

Think of a Japanese facial toner as a “liquid moisturiser.” DHC’s toners, like most Japanese toners, are called lotions, a reflection of their use as a moisturising step. Most are clear, with a light, watery texture (at DHC, we don’t add colourants or fragrances to our toning lotions). After cleansing, you apply toner by splashing some on your palms and applying directly onto your face or pouring a small amount on a cotton pad first.

In Japanese skincare, toning lotion is used to restore pH balance and prepare the skin to receive the benefits of a serum and moisturiser to follow. When you apply your moisturiser on skin still damp from toner, you’re able to lock in even more moisture.

What is in a toner?

Since Japanese toning lotions are considered the first part of a moisturising regimen, DHC’s toners are packed with soothing, emollient ingredients from botanical sources. Across our line of toners, you’ll find olive leaf extract, rich in antioxidants which help to fight the signs of ageing; trehalose, derived from desert plants, which helps to lock in moisture; oat kernel extract, cucumber juice extract, calendula and arnica, acting as soothing anti-inflammatories; and aloe leaf and willow bark extract to calm irritation.

Some of our toners contain targeted ingredients like nanosilver and nanoplatinum powder and coenzyme Q10.

You’ll find highly purified water at the top of the ingredient list. Most of our toners are also formulated without alcohol.

Debunking the myths

Many popular toners found in American shops are meant to be used as a cleansing, not moisturising, step—often used on acne-prone skin. They often contain alcohol and are sometimes known as astringents.

“Many women are still under the impression that a toner is either another step in the cleansing process, or an astringent that’s going to tighten pores and wipe away oil and dead skin cells,” explains Cynthia Beadle, licensed aesthetician and beauty consultant for DHC.

But Japanese toners, such as DHC’s, have far different effects. “In Mild Lotion II, for example, botanicals like St. John’s Wort and German chamomile are used to absorb excess oil and refine pores,” she says. Although no product can shrink or alter pores, “they can appear smaller when dead skin cells, fine dirt, and oil are addressed.”

pH balance and toning

Your skin has a natural acid mantle that helps to protect it against bacteria and other contaminants. This thin layer is made up of sebum, which is excreted from the pores, along with lactic acid and amino acids from sweat—which may sound gross until you realise how important it is. Your acid mantle, if kept at an optimal, slightly acidic pH of around 5.5, helps keep the skin’s natural moisture in while keeping contaminants out.

When you disturb the acid balance of your skin with harsh detergents, excessive exfoliation, high concentrations of alcohol and other astringents and some cosmetics, you leave your skin vulnerable to dermatitis, acne and fungal infections1.

According to Beadle, “Even with the gentlest cleansing, the skin’s pH balance will ultimately be left less than ideal and therefore needs rejuvenation to help it get back to where it’s functioning comfortably.”

Try adding one of these powerful skin tonics to your twice-daily routine now, and see the glow you get.

Let’s just not argue about what to call them.

DHC’s line of toners

Layers of the Skin

Mild Lotion: Contains soothing cucumber extract

Mild Lotion II: With soothing marigold, cornflower and calendula extract

Olive Leaf Lotion: Antioxidant-rich hydration from olive leaf extract

Soothing Lotion: Alcloxa, derived from the comfrey plant, helps smooth mild irritation while serine conditions skin

CoQ10 Lotion: Antioxidant-rich, with calming licorice root extract

Acerola Lotion: Contains soothing willow bark extract plus antioxidant cherry extract

Pore Lotion: Pores appear smaller thanks to artichoke leaf extract and nanomicelle delivery technology

Platinum Silver Nanocolloid Lotion: With hyaluronic acid and nano-formulations of platinum and silver

Beauty Lift Lotion: Contains peptides to encourage collagen at skin’s surface


1The pH of the skin surface and its impact on the barrier function —The National Center for Biotechnology Information

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