I Swear By This K-Beauty "Toner Mask" Hack for Clearer, More Hydrated Skin

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

One day in 2016, while probably knee-deep in one of my regular YouTube-watching binges, I came across multi-hypenate K-pop star and Blanc & Eclare creative director Jessica Jung's Vogue "Beauty Secrets" video, in which she blessed us with her 16-step beauty routine. I was already intrigued by the "Wonderland" singer's naturally gorgeous style, but it only took her two seconds to fully catch my attention — more precisely, when she applied her toner (I believe it's Blanc & Eclare's Effervescent Toner) onto cotton pads and left them on her cheeks and T-zone as mini face masks.

After she takes off the pads, she seals everything in by patting them across her face, and she even swipes the excess toner on her ears, which is honestly an area we tend to neglect — smart move.

Whether you've been patting in your toner or gently sweeping a cotton pad of toner all over your face, consider toner-masking yet another option to do good for your skin. I love sheet masks as much as the next skin-care obsessed person, but I don't always need to address my entire face.


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Courtesy of Vogue

My cheeks are my problem areas and consolidate more uneven texture and enlarged pores than I'd care to admit, so I focus on that area anyway when I'm normally applying toner with my hands. In fact, I make sure to use a few extra seconds to really pat and press it in.

Mona Gohara, board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, uses toner masks for similar reasons. "Toner masks are a perfect solution to those combination skin woes — put a patch where you need a little bit more of this or that, and leave your other skin alone," she says.

I like to split Muji's multilayer Soft Cut Cotton Pads in half because I've found they still stick onto my face without having to thoroughly soak the whole pad with product. Rest assured, they won't leave any lint residue on your face. But if you're not into splitting your pads every time, thinner cotton pads like Klairs Toner Mate 2 in 1 are an excellent option — as demonstrated, below.

I've personally been using Glow Recipe's Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner because it contains a gentle six percent of polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to exfoliate dead skin cells. PHAs, for the uninitiated, offer the most gentle (and less irritating) chemical exfoliation of all the acids.

"The molecules of PHAs are much larger and therefore cannot penetrate as deeply as AHAs and BHAs; they work exclusively on the surface, without disturbing the deeper delicate layers," New York City board-certified dermatologist Patricia Wexler previously told ishonest.

And, aside from acids, this toner has soothing, antioxidant-rich watermelon extract (of course) and a cactus water base that helps your skin retain moisture. Toner-masking also works well with more watery toners, like Acwell's Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner, since the thinner texture spreads out more easily on a pad (or anywhere else, like your hand).

Depending on what your skin concerns are, you can also substitute the toner for a hydrating essence, like Missha's Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence (which is shown in the GIF) or Peach & Lily's Wild Dew Essence. Three main types of essences are: brightening (with vitamin C), firming (with peptides), and redness-reducing (with niacinamide), but they all help the rest of your skin- care routine work and absorb better.

It feels very relatable to see a popular K-pop idol like Mina taking masking selfies — it's a classic "celebrities are just like us" moment. Never mind that Mina looks much more graceful posing with her mini face masks.

In the end, we're all just trying to achieve tighter-looking pores and chase that post-masking glow. And for me, instead of quickly going through each step and launching straight into bed, toner-masking is a lovely way to slow down and unwind during my skin-care routine.

Looking for more skin-care tips/hacks? Keep reading:

19 K-Pop Stars Reveal Their Most Creative Tips for Achieving Glass Skin

The 21 Best Skin-Care Tips of All Time, According to Dermatologists

Irene Kim Showed How She Uses a Cold Spoon to Depuff Her Eye Area

And now watch 100 years of face masks:

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