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Well, if Song Hye-kyo uses toner … 

Are toners a must-buy skincare essential or not? If you’d asked me that very question a couple of years ago, I would have replied in the negative.  

Why is that, you ask. Traditional toners used to strike me as being a load of baloney, what with their cryptic claims of removing the “last traces” of makeup (surely a competent cleanser would suffice) and “refreshing” your skin (snort).

Besides, any beauty buff worth her bathing salts would notice just how much alcohol there was in the formulation of these old-school astringents – any “pore-tightening” effects would be short-lived, dehydrating and detrimental in the long-term.

Happily, toners have come a long way. The latest trove of toners have been cleverly rejigged and remodelled as skin-softening treatments in their own right, with the ability to comfort, contour and condition.

Take it from an expert: “The newer offerings on the market don’t function as a secondary cleanser, but are increasingly viewed as a vital remedy for specific skin concerns,” says Nicolas Ian Travis, pharmaceutical scientist and founder of homegrown grooming label Allies of Skin.

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But there’s more. “Toners can also provide gentle exfoliation and help prep the skin for proper absorption of other skincare products used afterward, such as serums and moisturisers,” notes Dr. Daniel Stangl, Director of Innovation at La Prairie.

Case in point? The swishy Swiss brand’s beloved Cellular Refining Lotion, a pampering skin hydrator packed with beautifying botanicals for a super supple finish. (For what it’s worth, a pal of mine swears by this potion, and her skin is sick, I tell you.)

What else? Now that I’ve come around to the idea of incorporating a toner into my regime, it’s pretty much kid-in-candy-store syndrome: Everywhere I look, there’s an exciting new product to “pore” over, so to speak.

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All of which is to say there are far too many toners to recommend, but Laneige’s lovely Clear C Advanced Effector is a great jumping-off point, particularly if you’re Krazy for K-Beauty. Steeped in “superberry” juices – think antioxidant-rich acerola and acai – this skin smoothie is said to fend off the formation of freckles and fine lines. Beauty bonus: This toner also comes with generously girthed two-sided cotton pads for day and night use. Neat, yes?

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Or stick to a gold standard courtesy of Kiehl’s beloved Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion, which is shot through with cooling camphor and witch hazel for an acne-alleviating boost. Top tip: I like dabbing it “neat” along my pimple-prone jawline as a preventative nightly treatment; I’m also fond of decanting it into a facial spray bottle for use as a makeup-setting and mattifying mist.

Bottomline: Time to toss aside any lingering prejudice you may have for old-school toners. Next-gen formulas are the way to go!

Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion, $45 for 250ml and $67 for 500ml, is available at all Kiehl’s stores. For more information, visit and follow Kiehl’s Singapore on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Laneige Clear C Advanced Effector, $56 for 150ml, inclusive of 60 cotton pads, is available at all Laneige boutiques and counters. For more information,  visit and follow the brand on Facebook.

La Prairie Cellular Refining Lotion, $152, is available at all La Prairie counters. For more information, visit and follow La Prairie on Facebook.