How to Get the Most from Your Cleanser and Toner

Episode #91 / Sep 22, 2009
While most people know the important of cleansing (and hopefully toning), regardless of the brand they use, there's a way to maximize the cleansers toner and cleanser. Dr. Schultz will show you how to get the most out of your cleanser and toner and explain why.
Luiz on September 23, 2009 at 3:42am

I have a question: is alcohol an irritating substance for skin? A lot of toners contain alcohol in their formulas.

Terrific website!

Neal Schultz, M.D. on October 2, 2009 at 8:40pm

@Luiz: Terrific question, thank you! Alcohol can always be an irritant to skin, depending on it's concentration. For example, I have three toners in my skin line: Level one is alcohol free and created for people with sensitive and/or dry skin and even can be used for normal skin. For people with slightly oily skin, my second level toner has 10% alcohol to help degrease the skin and remove the oil. For teenagers/young adults with very oily skin, I give them a toner with 20% alcohol to even more effectively remove their greater oil load. As skin gets oilier, it becomes less susceptible to the potential irritancy of alcohol and therefore can usually benefit from the higher alcohol concentration with out becoming irritated. But to your point, no matter how oily the skin, if you use a high enough alcohol product, it will get irritated! One of my guiding principles for my patients for skin care is: if a little is good, more is usually worse, not better: or simply stated "less is more."

thomas daley on November 4, 2009 at 8:14pm

i heard any alcohol is bad for your skin it will irrate your skin and irration can cause more oil and i heard if you want alcohol to work you need 60% alcohol all found in hand santizer that i know of

Neal Schultz, M.D. on November 13, 2009 at 11:32pm

@Thomas: Alcohol in high concentrations will either over dry or irritate your skin. At 5-10%, however, as found in toners for acne-prone and oily skin, it’s perfectly safe, useful, and helpful in the facial cleansing process. The 60% alcohol you referred to is isopropyl alcohol and that is the approximate percentage you need to kill bacteria and sterilize your skin as we do in medical procedures, but that is very different from what you need for general cleansing where you certainly do not need a percentage of alcohol that high.

sarah on June 30, 2010 at 7:31pm

hi dr. schultz!
\what counts as "too much" when you say 'less is more'? i have very oily skin, so i use a toner or salcylic acid cleansing pads between three and six times a day, and i have to use two or three pads before the color stops changing. (and some days when i use the pads more often, there's just as much gray coming off every time!). am i using them too often, or too many each time? my skin tends to look red afterwards, is that bad or my natural irish heritage?

Neal Schultz, M.D. on July 15, 2010 at 7:06pm

@Sarah: Great question. There is a big difference betwen "too much" and "too often"! Your cleansing and toning schedule is appropriate for your excessive oiliness. I would suggest trying to use your cleanser more often and rubbing more gently with your toner pads to help reduce the redness you are experiencing.