Best toner for oily skin

Tessa Flores

Use a spray toner in-between steps of your skin care routine. This creates a damp surface on the skin, which increases ingredient absorption and efficacy while trapping in moisture underneath each layer of product.

What is the best toner for oily skin?

Toners have come a long way since the days of alcohol-heavy “clarifying lotions” and acne astringents. Their marked transformation can be seen in the large variety of toners now offered by skincare brands across the board. Special formulations have been developed to treat any skin type and they target a multitude of skin concerns from red, irritated skin to hyperpigmentation. 

What is toner and is it necessary?

Do you need to use toner? The short answer is yes — specifically because it can help you get the most out of your other skincare products. Since the popularization of K-Beauty’s 10 Step Skincare Routine, toner has become a vital part of any facial routine because of the way it preps and primes the skin for other applied products, such as serums and moisturizers. 

Toners typically have a water-like consistency that allows for deeper penetration and contains acids and other active ingredients that moisturize and plump skin. Toners can also function as chemical exfoliators or as a means to balance the skin’s pH level. They can be applied with a cotton pad or poured directly onto the palms of your hands and then pressed into the skin.

Key considerations for toners for oily skin

When it comes to toners, and oily skin, in particular, it’s important to bear in mind that the goal isn’t to remove all of the oil from the skin’s surface, but rather to create a healthy balance, and above all, moisturize. This is because dry skin will produce more oil as a way to compensate, while hydrated skin self-regulates oil production. So, when picking out the best toner for more oily complexions, look for ones that contain mostly emollient or hydrating ingredients and avoid ones that contain harsh alcohols that can strip the skin of all its natural oils.

Best toners for oily skin

Best drugstore toner for oily skin

Thayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Facial Toner: available at Amazon and Ulta

Our take: A botanical toner that tightens pores, clears skin and controls oil production. Contains ingredients that are natural sources of antioxidants to protect the skin against premature aging.

What we like: The witch hazel in this formula contains high levels of tannins to help reduce inflammation, excess oil and redness for acne-prone skin. Aloe and rosewater also help moisturize.

What we dislike: Has the potential to dry out skin or irritate more sensitive skin types. We recommend doing a patch test before use.

Best Korean beauty toner for oily skin

GLOW Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner: available at Sephora and Amazon 

Our take: A PHA and BHA toner inspired by Korean aqua peel facials. Utilizes acids for exfoliation as well as nutrient-rich ingredients to tighten pores and hydrate skin.

What we like: The watermelon and cactus water in this toner offers a high dose of both amino acids and electrolytes to noticeably smooth the skin and reduce fine lines. Willow bark decongests pores and over 90% of users reported seeing smaller pores after 2 weeks of use.

What we dislike: Because of the polyhydroxy acids present in this toner, it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so make sure to apply sunscreen. 

Best luxury toner for oily skin

SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion Toner: available at Sephora and Amazon

Our take: A transformative toner made in Japan that’s packed with antioxidants and vitamins to create a glowing, more supple complexion.

What we like: Contains a unique fermented bio-ingredient called Pitera to infuse the epidermis with organic acids and minerals that support the skin’s natural cell renewal process and maintain moisture. Delivers noticeable results and is suitable for all skin types.

What we don’t like: It’s very expensive.

Best natural toner for oily skin

Burt’s Bees Rosewater Toner: available at Amazon

Our take: A cruelty-free and responsibly sourced toner made from natural ingredients to balance pH levels and rid skin of impurities.  

What we like: The alcohol-free witch hazel tightens pores without overdrying and the rosewater helps to calm the skin. One of the more refreshing toner options.

What we dislike: The concentration of witch hazel is higher than the more soothing ingredients present in this toner, which can create a potential burning sensation for some users. 

Best exfoliating toner for oily skin

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant: available at Sephora and Amazon

Our take: A cult-favorite toner that effectively unclogs pores, smooths the appearance of wrinkles and evens out skin tone.

What we like: The percentage of beta hydroxy acid in this is effective enough to remove built-up layers of the skin, but gentle enough for daily use. It’s non-drying and leaves the skin with a lasting look of clarity.

What we dislike: Initially, this toner can feel a little heavy or layered on top of the skin, so we recommend regulating the amount used and pressing into the skin before following with other skincare products.

Best brightening toner for oily skin

Pixi Glow Tonic: available at Skinstore, Amazon and Ulta 

Our take: An exfoliating toner good for individuals who want to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and sun damage.

What we like: The 5% glycolic acid works extra hard to brighten the skin’s complexion for an instant glow. Botanical ingredients like aloe vera and ginseng work effectively to nourish and target signs of premature aging. 

What we dislike: Conversely, the glycolic acid makes it potentially sensitizing for some individuals, so we don’t recommend daily use and encourage the application of sunscreen when using this toner. 

Best wrinkle-fighting toner for oily skin

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution: available at Sephora and Ulta

Our take: An affordable and high-performing exfoliating toner to target fine lines, wrinkles and other premature signs of aging.

What we like: A great price for a solution containing 7% glycolic acid and Tasmanian pepperberry, both of which greatly improve skin’s radiance, clarity and smoothness after long-term use. 

What we dislike: The higher concentration of glycolic acid can make it irritating and over-exfoliating for some users. We recommend building up a tolerance to this by using it only once or twice a week to start. 

Best balancing toner for oily skin

ProactivMD Balancing Toner: available at Amazon 

Our take: A great oil-controlling toner created by one of the most trusted names in acne care. Targets redness, inflammation and other symptoms of acne-prone skin. 

What we like: The citric acid and witch hazel present in this formula minimize the appearance of pores to reduce future breakouts and promote a more revitalized complexion.

What we dislike: Not the most hydrating option, so incorporating a good moisturizer or serum containing hyaluronic acid in the same routine as this toner may be beneficial. 

Best hydrating toner for oily skin

Belif Aqua Bomb Hydrating Toner: available at Sephora, Macy’s and Amazon 

Our take: This toner delivers a penetrative shot of hydration to thirsty skin without triggering more sebum production.

What we like: The thin, slightly gel-like texture of this toner delivers a cooling sensation when applied. Effectively calms and reduces redness, making it a good option for individuals who have skin conditions like eczema or rosacea. Ingredients like baobab and sodium hyaluronate keep skin replenished and hydrated.

What we dislike: Contains alcohol in the ingredient list.

Best gentle toner for oily skin

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner: available at Amazon, Sephora and Ulta 

Our take: A hydrating and comforting solution that refines skin and gently removes debris without stripping the skin of its natural oils. Excellent for everyday use.

What we like: Effective emollients like squalene, avocado oil and vitamin E significantly improve skin texture and balance skin’s natural pH, making this toner ideal for skin preparation.

What we dislike: This doesn’t contain any antioxidants or other anti-aging properties. However, that does make it a good universal, basic toner.

Best spray toner for oily skin

COSRX Hydrum Watery Toner: available at Amazon

Our take: A refreshing and convenient spray toner that’s alcohol-free and works well with all skin types. Rebalances and hydrates without stripping skin, so it works well with sensitive skin.

What we like: Contains vitamin B5, hyaluronic acid and allantoin, which all promote healthy-looking skin.

What we dislike: Easy to go through quickly because the spray feature tends to waste product in the air.      

Best affordable toner for oily skin

Simple Kind to Skin Soothing Facial Toner: available at Amazon

Our take: A vegan and cruelty-free toner formulated without alcohol that removes any alkaline residue left behind after cleansing. Gentle ingredients balance the skin’s pH levels without irritating sensitive skin. 

What we like: Formulated with hydrating allantoin and restorative vitamin B5 which stimulate skin’s healing process. The small amount of witch hazel reduces excess oil and tightens pores.

What we dislike: Active ingredients are less concentrated than some of the other toners on the market.

Best firming toner for oily skin

Youth to People Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner: available at Sephora and Amazon 

Our take: A toner chock full of unique ingredients that combines 11% AHA and 8% lactic acid to gently resurface skin and fortify its microbiome, making it perfect for aging skin. 

What we like: Both the fermented black tea and willow bark present in this toner produce powerful peptides to firm the skin and help reverse the look of oxidative damage. 

What we dislike: The combination of ingredients, though nutrient-dense, can create a tacky feeling on the skin. To reduce the likelihood of pilling, we recommend pressing into the skin and waiting for complete absorption before applying other products on top.

Best-selling toner for oily skin

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner: available at Sephora, Ulta and Amazon 

Our take: A daily toner formulated with both rose fruit and rosewater to restore skin from environmental stressors and create lasting nourishment, making it good for dull and tired skin.

What we like: This toner is filled with hyaluronic acid and angelica leaf extract, both of which act as powerful humectants to draw moisture from the environment and into the skin. 

What we dislike: The scent can be a bit too strong for some people. The bottle also contains whole rose petals, which can clog the spout, making it difficult to dispense the product. 

Best new toner for oily skin

Biossance Squalane + BHA Pore-Minimizing Toner: available at Sephora 

Our take: A clinical take on a toner that mildly exfoliates. Good for individuals who have excess oil and visible pores.

What we like: The raw white willow bark dislodges dirt and sebum from pores, while the addition of squalane creates balance and softens skin, all with the added benefit of long-term hydration.

What we dislike: The hole in the top of the bottle is very small and it’s difficult to get product out. Also, it’s on the more expensive end of toners.

Tessa Flores is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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