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.