The one step you may be missing in your skin care ritual that may be making you age prematurely.

- By: Aimee Regur

Using a toner is the number one most-skipped step in a powerful anti-aging skin care routine, yet is probably the most important.

A good Toner gives your skin pH balance.

Our skin is natural acidic, normally between 5 and 6. When we use cleansers and other topical products they can throw the pH balance of the skin off, and good toners can correct the pH.

Why is pH balance so important?

Well, to be honest, this is worthy of a lecture all on its own, but here’s the short version. pH stands for potential hydrogen and is used to describe the acid-alkaline ratio of a substance, which ranges from 0 (the most acidic) to 14 (the most alkaline). When the body and the skin’s pH is off, the results are nothing to scoff at: premature aging, wrinkles, puffiness, and redness.

Inflammation inhibits the skin’s ability to ward off matrix metalloproteinases [MMPs], the enzymes that destroy collagen and cause wrinkles and…sagging. Yes sagging.

In fact, according to a 2010 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, that tracked women’s skin over an eight-year period, women with an alkaline stratum corneum (the skin’s outermost layer) developed more fine lines and crow’s-fee, and were more prone to sun damage than those with acidic skin.

How can something shrink pores, yet also open pores?

A good toner, when applied, opens the pores for a minute or so and that’s a great way to increase your skin’s ability to absorb more of your chosen moisturizer. It shrinks the appearance of pores by removing dirt and oil from the skin.

It moisturizes. Toners are designed to be humectants in the way that the botanicals work in conjunction with the water to attract more moisturization to the skin.

It adds a layer of protection. Toners can help close pores and tighten cell gaps after cleansing, thus reducing the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin.

It refreshes skin. I keep a toner with me all year round. It’s a quick, easy way to refresh your skin, give it some life, and neutralize harmful bacteria and impurities.

Now go get toned!