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What's A Skin Softener And Why Do You Need Them?

They’re less well-known than their more “popular” cousin the toner, but they are just as effective.

The first thing to know is that while they might occupy the same step in your regime – after cleansing but before serums – they do very different things. For one, softeners tend to be very hydrating and help to soften skin and prep it so it can better absorb the rest of your skincare, while toners have a more cleansing, astringent effect. 

“Softeners in the market are watery essences that absorb quickly to provide relief to dry, dehydrated surface layers of the skin, “ explains Dr Calvin Chan, medical director of Calvin Chan Aesthetic & Laser Clinic. “They can also strengthen and repair skin’s barrier function and improve skin’s health over time.

So how do you pick between the two? Well, it largely depends on what your complexion needs. If you have an oily complexion and enlarged pores, then you should probably go for a toner. However, if you have sensitive skin or suffer from dryness, then a softener is the way to go. We’ve found softeners to be extremely soothing and refreshing after a hot day, and are one of the products to calm down a ruddy, irritated complexion.

Cle de Peau Beaute Hydro-Softening Lotion, $180
This gentle lotion is infused with Scutellaria Baicalensis root extract to protect skin from oxidative stressors, as well as moisturising agents to reduce roughness and leave your complexion feeling smooth, dewy, plump and radiant.   Shiseido Revitalizing Treatment Softener, $125
Inspired by the Japanese hot springs, this is infused with Japanese Kirishima Mineral Spring Water and a complex blend of ingredients to protect skin and help the rest of your skincare products penetrate faster and deeper. It not only helps to boost skin health and resilience, but also provides up to 24 hours of hydration and softens fine lines.  Tatcha The Essence, $95
This watery liquid contains a trio of anti-ageing Japanese superfoods to treat skin. Uji green team Akita rice and Okinawa Mozuku algae helps to boost natural moisturising factors in skin and increase cell turnover to improve skin texture, tone and clarity. Albion Flora Drip, $182
This hardworker contains 7,800 multiple active substances that said to be able to treat long-term cell damage and deliver seven anti-ageing benefits: firming skin, boost elasticity, softening fine lines, boosting radiance, refining texture, hydrating and brightening.   La Mer The Treatment Lotion, $150
This is made with the brand’s iconic Miracle Broth to soothe, repair and hydrate skin, as well as 73 nourishing sea minerals to energise and rejuvenate tired, dry and lackluster complexions.