Should You Use Toner Before Or After A Face Mask? Explained

Should You Use Toner Before Or After A Face Mask? Explained

As much as using the right skincare products matter, so does using them in the right order for your skincare routine. So, is a toner used before or after a face mask? You’ll be surprised to know that the answer is both! Let’s try to understand why this is so.

Purpose of a Toner

It is essential to use a good toner after cleansing to rebalance the skin after cleansing. Toners are considered one of the best mask primers. They help soothe irritated skin when used before applying a face mask and rid excess impurities and oil from the skin, prevent premature ageing, etc. The use of toner as a priming mist provides multiple benefits; it refreshes and keeps your skin hydrated.

Toner masking is when you use toner as a mask. Toner masking instantly hydrates your skin while also brightening it. It works great on dehydrated skin, just as good as several layers of hydrating products, and is a great fix for inflamed skin. It also helps with oily skin or plugged pores. Toners can be exfoliating or moisturising.

Interesting Fact: Rosewater is a natural toner derived from the Rosa damascena flower (Damask rose). The creation of rose water is done by distilling rose petals using steam. Take a cotton pad, dip it in rose water, dab it all over your face, and leave it on your skin overnight. The next morning, wash your face with cold water, and you’ll have glowing, fresh, and soft skin.

Choosing the right formula based on your skin type and concerns is more important:

Toner Types

There are different types of toners to suit different needs.

  • Healing: Those with sensitive skin could use these healing toners that balance the skin’s pH level. They typically contain oat, rose water, antioxidants, panthenol, etc.
  • Exfoliating: These toners target skin types that are oily, blemish-prone, or a combination. Typically, the active ingredients of exfoliating toners include Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, etc., which help reduce the appearance of blemishes, acne, and discolouration. They even help develop a bright and even skin tone, rid the skin of excess impurities, and are beneficial for oily skin. Since chemical exfoliants might be present in these toners, using them at night would be suitable.
  • Hydrating: Majorly comprising of hydrating or nourishing elements, some may also contain small amounts of gentle chemical exfoliants. A hydrating toner replenishes the skin by helping retain water and strengthening your skin barrier. Those with dry skin will benefit from hydrating toners.

Using a Facial Mask

It is important to exfoliate before applying any face mask (it’s absolutely fine to exfoliate AND use a face mask on the same day). If you’re layering face masks, soft masks must always go first and should be followed by a clay mask or mud-based mask. Using a mask depends on the instructions for use. Usually, you must thoroughly cleanse your skin before applying any mask.

A detoxifying or exfoliating mask must be rinsed off; hence, the skin must be cleaned right before applying the mask. If using a mask that’s supposed to be left on the skin overnight, it must be applied right before moisturising. Another option is a multi-mask, targeting different areas of your face; you might have an oily T-zone, for which you could apply a charcoal-based mask, while a hydrating mask can go on your cheeks, neck, and forehead.

Order of Skincare Routine

Order of Skincare Routine

Using the right skincare products in the correct order ensures healthy and smooth skin.

Double Cleansing

An oil-based cleanser will remove oil-based impurities, makeup, SPF, your night cream, etc. Following this will, a water-based cleanser will remove any residual impurities. This cleanses the skin thoroughly and clears the pores.


Toners or toning essences help prep the skin with proper hydration and moisturisation. Toners are usually used twice a day.


Once your skin is cleansed, toned, and hydrated, exfoliation must be considered unless you’re about to use exfoliating masks. It is good to exfoliate twice a week for dry or sensitive skin, three times a week for oily skin, and for normal skin, an average of 2-3 times a week.

While masks aren’t used daily, sheet masks could be used daily to boost hydration. Typically, masks are used 2-3 times a week and using a toner before masking helps cleanse and hydrate the skin thoroughly.


If your skin needs some extra care, you could apply a facial serum, oils, etc. Usually, vitamin C is applied first, followed by BHA, AHA, and other treatments.


Moisturisers protect the effect of all the skincare products used thus far in your routine. A heavier moisturiser would work best if you have dry or normal skin, especially in winter. A lighter water-based moisturiser that won’t clog the pores is more suitable for oily or combination skin. It would be great to apply some eye cream around your eyes.

Using a Toner

A toner could be used before a face mask, but it also works post mask; it’s based on personal preference. Some find it helps prep the skin if used before a mask, such that the ingredients of the mask get absorbed better by the skin.

Before a Face Mask

A toner ensures thorough cleansing of your face before the mask application; it soothes irritated skin. Typically, any treatment mask works best when applied to skin that has been prepped right. Based on your skin type and skin concerns, you could spritz on the appropriate toner to balance the skin’s pH. It also helps reap the maximum benefits by letting good absorption of the mask’s key ingredients.

Using a toner right before a sheet mask ensures your skin absorbs all of the sheet mask’s ingredients while soothing the skin and calming inflammations.

After a Face Mask

It’s been extremely effective to use a face toner twice, before AND after the mask. While it’s crucial to moisturise after masking, spraying on your toner is an overlooked step. When you apply toner after a mask, it helps normalise the skin’s pH level again. The benefits to the skin also include skin hydration, helping your skin absorb serums and moisturisers better, and protecting your skin from external irritants.

Final Thoughts

While it’s ideal to use toner before and after face masks, it is based on individual preferences and skin types. Find a skincare routine and the right skincare products that suit you the best. Remember that you need the right skin prep before applying any facial mask.

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