Difference Between Exfoliator and Toner: the Skincare Essentials

difference between exfoliator and toner
The differences between exfoliators and toners are very prominent, as the work and process of application of these products are different.

Toners and exfoliators do not immediately come to mind when we think of basic skin care routines. On the other hand, toners and exfoliators come to mind when you think of getting perfect and glowing skin. And that might be why so many people are thinking about exfoliators, and it’s been a struggle to understand whether these two products are the same.

The main theme of the exfoliators and toners is that they are often combined into one single product, and thus they tend to both hydrate and make the skin glow. This article will include a brief discussion of exfoliators and toners, as well as whether or not these two products would be effective. So what is the difference between exfoliator and toner?

Exfoliators and toner are two completely separate entities, but they often come up as the same product. Toners are designed to clean the skin and remove excess oils and sweat, and Exfoliators would remove dead skin cells from the skin. The toners are on the gentle side, and the exfoliators would have mildly harsh ingredients.

Toners and exfoliators have the same effect: they make the skin plump. There are different kinds of toners available on the market, and the most common kind is the exfoliating toners. These toners will gently remove dead skin cells, leaving the skin soft and glowing. And that might be the reason why exfoliating toners are well-regarded.

What is an exfoliator?

Exfoliators are used on the skin to remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. They are used in granular form or with a chemical ingredient on the face. The exfoliators would work best when you are trying to get rid of uneven skin tones and all kinds of hyperpigmentation. The skin’s cells would grow every 30 days, and such an exfoliant would get rid of the flaky and clogged pores. There are different kinds of exfoliators in the marmot; the most common ones are chemical and physical. The exfoliators would be the best way to ensure good skin adoption. When exfoliators remove the poor and dead skin cells from the skin, the chances of other products penetrating into the skin care are increased. Here are some advantages of using an exfoliator on the skin:

  • It will remove dead skin cells from the skin.
  • It will get rid of uneven skin tones and clogged pores.
  • It reduces the appearance of the pores.
  • A collagen boost is possible with this kind of exfoliator.
  • They improve the skin’s overall elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Types of exfoliators

Types of exfoliators

There are different kinds of exfoliators on the market, and the most common ones would be physical and chemical exfoliators. Different exfoliators have been used at various times, and the number of exfoliators available grows with each passing year, as does their effectiveness. Here we are including the types of exfoliators that are being used to get the best results.

1. Physical exfoliators:

When the game of exfoliators began in the skincare line, the first to appear was the physical types. These sorts of exfoliators come in different ways, and the commonly used term would be scrubbed. Besides that, derma rollers, microneedles, loofahs, brushes, washcloths, mitts, etc., are used as physical terms. Exfoliators would be applied to the skin’s surface and would not penetrate the skin. As a result, exfoliators play an important role when immediate results are desired. If you all remember the well-regarded line from Kris Jenner that you might want to use a towel to exfoliate the skin during toweling, well, now you know what I mean. These exfoliators would easily remove the dead cells. But the chances of the skin getting irritated are very high, and sometimes the skin gets dry as the skin loses transepidermal water.

2. Chemical exfoliators:

Chemical exfoliators are the most commonly used at the moment. The most common chemical ingredient is retinoids. And these are noticeably beneficial in reducing the chances of skin aging. Chemical exfoliators are most sought after for their dramatic results. With the physical ones, you might get a result almost immediately, but when using a chemical exfoliator, they are less harsh on the skin and will gently remove the dead cells from the skin. Dermatologists are most likely to recommend chemical exfoliators for the skin, and they are often used to treat acne and acne scars. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and retinoids are the three most common chemical exfoliators. Lactic and glycolic acids are the most common AHAs, and they would be able to treat hyperpigmentation along with fine wrinkles and lines. The BHAs are recommended for oily skin types and will cure sun damage and relieve clogged pores. Salicylic acid is the most commonly used BHA. Retinoids are the next term in chemical exfoliators. These are the most potent forms of vitamin A and are ideal for increasing collagen levels in the skin. Retinol, adapalene, and retinoic acid are some of the most common retinoids.

What are toners?

What are toners

Toners are used to balance out the skin. These are also known as the “prep” term for the skin, which gets it ready for the upcoming rituals. Well, the toners are not heavily promoted to work as the master of skin care ingredients, but they are the most prominent knights of skin care. When we describe the current state of toners, the first thing that comes to mind is that toners would be ideal for softening the skin.

The toners would eventually improve the skin, and though the changes won’t appear overnight, they’ll surely change how the skin ends up looking. The face toners will alter the appearance of the skin, and they will do so in one of two ways. The first function of toners is to be used after using a cleanser. As a result, they will remove any leftover makeup from the day as well as the cleanser’s effect. Residues from the cleanser and makeup can make the skin dry. “Improve the skin” would be the next term used on the toner. The toners would maintain the skin’s pH level and help the products penetrate deeply into the skin.

Types of toners

There are mostly three different kinds of toners on the market. These kinds of toners are absolutely perfect for the skin and are also used for different purposes. Among them, currently, exfoliating toners are ruling the market. Toners are used before using a serum, and here we include the kinds of toners:

1. Fresheners:

The most common kind of toners that are used are fresheners, and these are mostly the hydrating kinds. In general, toners are made of humectants, which will keep the upper layer of the skin hydrated and, thus, the epidermis layer of the skin even. The toners will prevent the skin from over-evaporation, and thus there will be a tinge of hydration before you go ahead with a moisturizer.

2. Exfoliating toners:

Well, these kinds of toners have been making headlines for the past few years, and almost all influencers would just recommend an exfoliating toner for the skin. Most exfoliating toners are made from AHAs and BHAs, and these kinds of toners would help to improve the overall health of the skin. You can use a cotton swab to apply the toners. The most commonly used chemicals in acid or exfoliating toners would be glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid.

3. Tonics:

These toners contain a small amount of alcohol and are suitable for all skin types. They help to brighten the skin but are not recommended because they tend to dry it out.

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What role do exfoliators and toners play in skincare?

What role do exfoliators and toners play in skincare

Toners and exfoliators are of different kinds, and they are used on the skin for a variety of reasons. The main theme of toners is to balance the skin and make sure that it has not dried out from the cleansers. And when you include the toner in the skincare routine, the chances of the exfoliator drying out the skin are high. So the better alternative would be to use a toner after an exfoliator. There are different kinds of toners and exfoliators on the market, and when you use an exfoliating toner, make sure you follow it with a hydrating toner. And when you use an exfoliator, you still have to use a toner after it. Well, toners can be replaced with moisturizers or other products, but exfoliators are not to be replaced by anything.

When we say that toners and exfoliators are two different things, it can be easily explained how both of these products are used in a skincare routine. Mostly, exfoliators are used during a nighttime routine, so here we include a routine that would include both the toner and an exfoliator.


If you use makeup during the day, you must perform a double cleansing. Utilizing oil-based cleansers, which remove makeup, is the greatest approach to double cleansing. Then, to remove the oil and grime and make your skin ready for the following phase, you can use a foam-based cleanser.


Utilizing an exfoliator would be the next step. You have the option of using a chemical or physical exfoliant. However, you shouldn’t carry out both tasks at once. Exfoliators would remove the oil and debris that had accumulated on the skin.


Toners are simple devices that you may select based on your preferences. If you prefer exfoliation, pick the option that is more on the moisturizing side; otherwise, choose the other option. However, you should only use an exfoliating toner two or three times each week.


Unique chemicals are used in the formulation of serums to meet certain demands. Therefore, if you wish to address a broad issue, purchase a serum in that manner. Retinol, for instance, will prevent you from aging, and hyaluronic acid will function as a solid humectant.

Eye Cream

Eye creams are usually made for sensitive skin since the eye region is more sensitive than the rest of the skin. The eye bags and dark circles can be removed using an eye cream.


You can apply more moisturizing cream at night and wait for the skin to absorb it fully. After using a moisturizer, all the previous things you utilized will stay in place.

Lip Balm

To assist you in getting rid of chapped lips, try an overnight lip mask.

Additionally, there are products that may be used to lighten the lips‘ or mouth’s darker hue.

Difference Between Exfoliators And Toners

Here are some key differences between the exfoliator and toner:

  1. Exfoliators, which are exfoliating toners, are commonly used instead of toners.
  2. Exfoliators remove dead skin cells from the skin while also unclogging the pores. The toners would help to hydrate and balance the pH of the skin.
  3. Toners are not a mandatory step in skin care, but they tend to have an effect on long-term skin care. You can alternate the toners with an essence. On the other hand, exfoliators are used almost in every skincare routine.
  4. Exfoliators are used mostly twice or three times a week. The toners are used every day.
  5. While exfoliators are harsh on the skin, toners are very gentle.
  6. Exfoliators are thicker consistently, and toners’ consistency is mostly like water.
  7. The exfoliators are used right after using a cleanser. The toners are then applied.
  8. Exfoliators come as a serum, toner, and scrub. Toners are a water-like base for the skin.


1. What comes first, toner or exfoliator?

Exfoliators would come first, and toners would follow. The exfoliators would get rid of the gunk, and the toners would then repair and hydrate the skin.

2. Hydrating or exfoliating toners first?

First, you have to go with an exfoliating toner and let it dry completely. Then go with a hydrating toner to get the best results.

Final Thoughts

Exfoliators and toners may be the same thing, but they are frequently combined in a single bottle. In the skincare community, toners are often overlooked unless they are exfoliating or have hydrating qualities. In skin care, you might be using a lot of products like an essence or a good moisturizer to hydrate the skin. And thus, toners can be excluded. And when you use an exfoliating toner on the skin, they work very slowly, and as such, the results from these kinds of toners are not promising. Many skincare lines, specifically the k-beauty lines, have enclosed toners and exfoliators in the same position, and as such, it is important that you get the same product in just one bottle. However, in order to conclude this article, we believe you should use different products as a toner and an exfoliator.

Key Points

  1. Although exfoliators and toners are two very different things, they frequently appear as one product. Toners are used to cleanse the skin and get rid of extra oil and perspiration. Dead skin cells would be removed from the skin by exfoliators.
  2. Such an exfoliator would remove the flaky skin and blocked pores since the skin would renew its cells every 30 days. The most prevalent exfoliators in marmots are chemical and physical ones, while there are other types as well. The greatest technique to guarantee healthy skin adoption would be to use exfoliators.
  3. Face toners will use one of two approaches to change how the skin looks. Toners’ primary purpose is to be used following the use of a cleanser. Consequently, they will eliminate the cleanser’s effects and any lingering makeup from the previous day.

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