Tips, News & Trends

Amabie Skincare Tips: Amabie 101 Segment featuring SKIN CARE TONERS

What are the different types of skin care toners available today? What’s the difference between cleansing / moisturizing / activating toners?

Hi everyone, it’s Joanne from Amabie. Let’s find out all about skincare toners!! Toners are an important part of the skincare routine, especially Asian skincare routines. It is said in Asia that skincare products that are applied to your skin without the use of toner will not be effective to its full potential. Some say only 60% of the product will actually absorb into your skin. With that in mind, it is very common and practically necessary to include toners into your skincare routine.

Photo Source:

The above photo is what the skin care toner section would look like in a Japanese drug store. Do you see those refill bags you can get for your toners!? How cool is that! Similar to Korean skincare product reviews; Japanese product reviews are also very popular on our site.

In our recent "Amabie Segment 101 – ft. Toners," video, I went through the different types of toner (to my knowledge). Let’s begin with the good old "Westernized" toner products. By westernized, I mean that these toners are aimed for cleansing or clarifying the skin. An example product that I mentioned in the video is the Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 This is a traditional clarifying toner commonly found in Western beauty brands. On the other hand, in the Asian (mentioned in many Korean skincare product reviews, Japanese skincare product reviews, and Taiwanese skincare product reviews) skincare routine scene, a toner is more for balancing the pH value of your skin and prepping your skin for your skincare routine steps that come afterwards. Toners are considered a staple product for Korean skin care and other Asian skin care routines. These products are also available for all skin types, so chose one that fits you.

Another type of skin care toner that has become popular in Asia, particularly in the Japanese beauty industry is the "activating toner" These toners are different from your regular Asian/ Korean skincare routine toner. They are an evolved, more advanced version. Activating toners helps to wake up the skin cells on the face so that specific ingredients of other skincare products get absorbed as much as possible. For example, if your skincare centers around anti-aging, an activating toner that’s specifically formulated for this concern would come in handy.

Now we know that there are 3 types of skin care toners, let’s get into the texture. Below I have a photo of the full-sized products that were tested out in the video

From left to right: Hada-Labo Clear lotion, (FYI: it’s a toner, Japanese people translate their toner (化粧水) into "lotion"), Aqua Label White Up Lotion R, and Freshel Skin Freshner. As shown on the paper, one can tell that the consistency of the Hada Labo product is heavier and the Aqua Label one is more like water. For me personally, I own both skin care products because my skin has different needs. During spring time and summer time, I use the Aqua Label one since it’s hot and humid in Asia. However, during wintertime my skin gets dry (combination skin life!!) and irritated, in which case I will switch to the Hada Labo toner. So it makes sense to own many toners since you never know what your skin is going to do when you wake up the next morning.


Another method I mentioned in the live video is called the "Wet masking" technique as I would call it, from direct Chinese translation. Usually, skin care toners are applied to the face by using a cotton pad like the picture shown. You can put the toner on your hand and apply it directly on your skin, but so many toners are water based so they get all over the place. Thus, it has become a common method to use a cotton pad to apply toner to your face.

*Note: You can also use a tissue paper, but cotton pads are better because they don’t dry up the product right away, so a little product could cover your entire face*

Now, this is the wet masking technique. Wet your cotton pads completely and stick them on your face like featured in this photo. This skincare technique supposed to work well for targeted areas on the face. Since I have combination skin, my cheeks get extra dry so I would do this after I’ve applied toner all over my face already. Wet masking is a very popular skincare technique in Asia. Some girls use this technique every night all over the face to replace a sheet mask (Or if you run out of sheet masks but need to look extra fab the next day, this is a last-minute solution!). This technique is not usually mentioned on Korean beauty blogs or Korean makeup blogs, mostly in Taiwanese beauty blogs or Japanese beauty blogs.


After the general "How to’s" of toners, I want to discuss the "activating toner," which is the last skincare toner type. On the texture comparison photo above, the Freshel Skin Freshner is the most basic type of activating toner you can get today from Japanese brands. It costs around $10USD and promises to help your moisturizing products to absorb into your skin better. Activating toners help to stimulate the skin surface and create proteins that make the skin layers stronger, so that the skin is ready to absorb other products. Basically, the saying is: if your skin doesn’t get an appetizer, it’s not going to finish the rest of the meal. This type of toner is becoming more and more important in the Asian skincare routine steps to optimize the effect of all the products that are used. The most popular type of activating toner in Asia is typically the whitening activating toner. In Korean skin care product culture, whitening is an important factor. Women want to have skin that’s "white" and radiant. It is very important for them to fight dark spots!

So far, Japanese brands are the first ones to create these activating toners, but Korean beauty brands could have these products soon! (Or perhaps they already exist! If you know Korean beauty brands that make these types of skincare toners, please let us know!) If you have any Korean skin care brand reviews specifically for toners, please share them with us!

For those who are new to Asian skincare routines, here are some of the best toners on

For those who are interested in stepping into the realm of Asian Beauty (or just obsessed with the Korean beauty skincare routine), invest in a toner that suits your skin type needs as it is the most important step of your skincare routine. If you don’t get your toner right, your other products may not work as well as you want them to!

Check out all of our toners on here:

Of course, feel free to check out all of our Japanese skincare and Korean skin care reviews! Many of our writers have been using Amabie as their personal beauty blog/ makeup blog :) Create your own profile today and share your Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean skincare product reviews, and any other Asian beauty product reviews you have!

Hope this was helpful! Cheers to getting the perfect glowing skin!

Written by Jobobo

Edited by Secret Asian Skincare Enthusiast

Published on November 4, 2016 is a review site for Korean makeup, Korean skin care, and other Asian beauty products. It’s the best way to blog and share your Asian skincare reviews!