Clarifying toner is a product applied to the face after cleansing. It is used to dry up oil, tighten pores, and prevent blemishes from forming. People with dry skin may not want to use clarifying toner, because it could make skin too dry, but people with very oily or acne-prone skin often find that toner is helpful at keeping oil away. Clarifying toner may be found in most drugstores with the face wash and facial moisturizers.
Most manufacturers of face washes also make corresponding clarifying toner, and toner is usually comparably priced to face wash. It generally includes alcohol as its active ingredient, as well as ingredients such as witch hazel, grape seed extract, or vitamin E, among others. Clarifying toner is typically applied to a cotton ball or sponge, and is applied all over the face. It is not typically used to remove makeup, and should never be used around the eyes, because the alcohol could potentially cause irritation.
Astringent toners, which contain the highest level of alcohol, might only need to be applied to problem areas. For instance, astringent toner might only need to be applied to areas where blemishes occur, such as the chin or forehead, rather than the entire face. Toner may be applied after the face is washed in the morning and night, or it may just be applied once per day. Some skin refreshers, which are a type of toner, but with low levels of alcohol, may be applied during the day if skin becomes slightly shiny.
Clarifying toner is also effective at making pores appear smaller, and making the skin look more even. Keep in mind that one should only use toner if the skin is very oily, and becomes shiny throughout the day. This is because constant removal of oil from the surface of the skin can actually encourage the skin to produce even more oil. This can have the opposite of the desired effect.
Some people find that when skin appears oily, what it actually needs is a gentle cleanser to remove dirt and other skin impurities, and then a regular morning and evening moisturizer. Each person's skin is different; some people can benefit from clarifying toner, especially in the summer when humidity and heat tends to make the skin more greasy and oily. Be sure that the product is actually helping, though, rather than making oily skin worse by drying the skin too much.