November 27, 2018

Ditch the Cotton Pads, Apply Your Toner and Essence With Your Hands

I have two friends from abroad currently staying with me which makes my house feel like a sorority. Lots of giggling, lots of bad snacks, and lots of beauty. I don’t have a lot of friends in my real life that are into makeup and beauty. Most of my friends have like one lipstick and think I’m seriously weird for have dozens! I mean, I have all of you guys that love skincare, makeup, etc…! But we are so far apart from each other it’s not like we hang out and enjoy brunch on Sunday together sadly.

However, these two friends adore beauty! One of them loves fragrance which I can talk about all day, everyday! The other is really into skincare!

Anyway, although both of them have their own bedrooms and bathroom while staying with me we tend to find ourselves doing most of our socializing in the master bathroom for some reason. Maybe because I have a rather large closet in the secondary room of the bathroom that contains my skincare (as well as other assorted beauty) stash and we do A LOT of talking about skincare. Last night, I was removing my makeup and one of my friend’s was sitting on the counter next to me. After I rinsed my face I poured my toner into my hands and patted it onto my face gently. Well, you would have thought I murdered someone’s cat because my friend jumped off the counter she was sitting on and proceeded to ask me what in the world was I doing?

“Don’t you have any cotton pads? Why are you applying your toner with bare hands? You look like you’re applying aftershave!”

Most of you who follow a Korean skincare method likely do the same when it comes to applying toners or essences. Why would you waste all that lovely juice in a cotton pad that soaks it up which means a little less gets on your face and most gets absorbed into that little cotton square. If your hands are clean you can pour a small amount of toner into them and gently pat your toner on. Once you pat it in place you can gently lay your hands on your face and allow it to absorb into your skin.


You’re not wasting cotton plus more of your toner is getting on your face rather than absorbed into a cotton round that gets tossed in the trash.

Try it! I convinced my friend to try it and now she’s all, “Oh my gosh why haven’t I been doing this all my life?” You can actually feel the difference in my opinion as it seems like other skincare absorbs more easily when I apply toner this way!

Hope it works for you!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Sheree

    I guess this makes sense, because I double cleanse, so it’s not like the toner is taking any makeup residue off my skin!

  • Michelle Luna

    I absolutely cannot STAND how much product is wasted by getting soaked up by cotton pads!
    Partly due to my natural frugality and partly due to my desire to be as ZW (zero-waste, it’s really cool!) as possible. So I try to avoid as many disposable things as possible and when I do have disposable things (spoons for example) I try to find a way to reuse them as much as possible or turn them into something else before pitching them in the recycling bin as a last resort.

    • Isabella Muse

      TOTALLY agreed! I cringe when people say they apply essence with a cotton! Nooo! you’re doing it wrong! You’re awesome ;-D

  • Nanners

    Muse I totally agree! Less waste and better absorption all the way. I pour my toner in a spray bottle and spritz it directly onto the face or onto my hand before patting. That way I don’t get precious toner dripping down my hand cuz I’m so bad at pouring liquids delicately “â™€ï¸

  • kjh

    Yes, although I use multiple cosrx toners that spray. The only toner use for cotton rounds, pads, or strips is for toner or essence spot masking. Big time waste not to use hands for anything that doesn’t spray. Thanks for the tip on sokoglam sale. Looking forward to trying the Acwell licorice spray essence…whatever it is called.

  • ChynnaBlue

    It’s a game changer, but it was hard for me to get used to and I still struggle with it. I grew up in the 80s, where the only toner was Sea Breeze. It was cheap, it stung, and you used cotton. Lesson learned, habit formed – until I learned that everything I knew about toner was wrong. It doesn’t have to sting! Or smell like medicine! And you don’t need to soak a cotton pad to use it! The more I spend on essences and serums, the less I want tossed away with a cotton pad. I still have an initial freak out when I feel like it’s wasted when it drips down my fingers, but it’s still less than I lose with a cotton pad.

    • Isabella Muse

      LOL I so remember sea breeze ;-D it was more a 90s thing for me but I totally used it too! Horrible idea but I swear didn’t your skin feel crazy clean because of it!? ;-D

    • Ricci

      Omg I remember seabreeze toner lol that stuff stank. I just ordered eminence lime toner I may try the spray idea

  • Christina

    Yup, I do the same! I’m not wasting my expensive toners and essences on a cotton pad.

    And I feel you about not having friends in real life who share my love of cosmetics in general. I have maybe one friend/coworker, thankfully, but the rest of my friends just think I’m nuts for buying so much.

    • Isabella Muse

      preach! me either! Yup! me too! I HAVE SOOOOOOOOO many people in my life that think I’m insane for having hundreds of eyeshadow palettes instead of like one. Oh well at least we have each other hug!

      • bebe

        Don’t give it a second thought, Muse..the few friends I have think I’m insane for having 500 Bath & Body Works three wick candles (and am about to get even more at the $8.95 annual candle day sale this coming Saturday), so enjoy your makeup and skincare goodies. Never thought about how much toner was being wasted by using a cotton pad, so I’m going to try the palm method and see how it goes. Thanks for the tip and have a lovely day. ♡♡♡

  • Angie Clementine

    Yes, this is how I apply most of my skincare. The only things I use cotton rounds for are micellar water and eye makeup remover. And I use cotton balls for removing nail polish.

  • Renu

    I decant anything watery into spray bottles, and spritz ’em on, be it acid toner (P50 from Biologique Recherche), essence (SK-II), or hydrating lotions (Hada Labo Goku Jyun). Sometimes I pat ’em in, but not if I’m in the middle of cooking – especially after the one time I was chopping peppers….

      • Renu

        Low pressure on the nozzle, less distance, and eyes shut – it DOES work, honest! The only thing is, it is easy to go overboard and be nozzle-happy – but that usually happens with Hada Labo, and my skin soaks it all up.

  • Nikole

    COMPLETELY agree. It took me some time getting used to it, and I still lose a bit down my arms/through the fingers; but I am all about skipping the middleman (in this case that’s cotton). Besides, the toners I use are nice for the skin on my palms and fingers too, so it’s not such a problem to lose a little of the product that way. Thanks to your original post that discusses this practice, I started doing it when I started buying expensive (or MUCH more expensive) toners. I seriously think the companies want you to use cotton to apply it so that you will go through the product faster and buy more!

    • Isabella Muse

      HA! yes I bet they do ;-D I’m glad you started using this method! It’s much better for your skin! ;-D <3! I love you remembered the original post 🙂 xoxo!

  • Mardi

    At home I use washable microfibre squares (I cut up a brand new cleaning cloth) but I’m in a hotel right now and brought cotton rounds for toner. But they put little worms of cotton fluff on my skin so I’ve switched to using hands. I like it and may ditch the microfibre when I get home!

  • Carol G

    Never tried using toner with bare hands since it’s so watery but I do put on my essence with my hands since it’s a little thicker. But you are right, I guess the cotton would soak up a fair amount of the toner. I’ll try it tonight!

  • bebe

    Don’t give a second thought to what your friends think about your collection, friends think I’m totally insane for having 500 Bath & Body Works three wick candles (and am about to get even more at the annual $8.95 candle day sale this coming Saturday), so enjoy your makeup and skincare goodies. I never thought about how much toner was being wasted by using a cotton pad..I’m going to give the palm method a try and see how it goes. Thanks for the tip and have a lovely day. ♡♡♡

    • Isabella Muse

      oh my god my soulmate. My friends think I am bonkers for my MASSIVE stash of candles. I can’t wait for candle day and I have to tell you I am so sad merry cookie sold out before I got my hands on it (I have two from a two year’s ago but need moreeeeeeee). Let me know how it works out for you you are so welcome and have a gorgeous day!

  • Nicole

    I actually put one of my essences in a spray bottle and mist it on. There’s even less waste then! I need to get a couple more nice spray bottles.

  • Yen

    Here I was thinking I was the only one doing this! Haha I hated using cotton pads since I feel like I have to use twice as much. A long time ago I was running low on cotton pads and got lazy to buy more. Instead of not using toner, I just poured it onto my hands. It feels so much better this way!

  • Martine Felts

    I use Paula’sChoice toner and have always done this. Definitely use less.

  • Carrie

    Huh. I don’t know why, but I’ve never thought of doing that. If anything, my cotton rounds ect would last longer.

  • Igor

    YES! I was very worried about this in the last few days, I thought “why waste my tonic and money on selfish cottons that will absorb most, will leave almost nothing to my skin and in the end will be thrown in the trash!?” so I went to check on other language sites if people also did this, here I found you and others, good! Sorry for the English, I’m using google translator. “

    • Isabella Muse

      You can def skip the cotton pads Igor ;-D It’s better to apply with hands! Product absorbs fast and less waste! You english is fine 🙂

    • Isabella Muse

      essence or toner? Toner I like Missha Time Revolution, Etude House Moistful Toner, guilty of using Etude House Wonder Pore but don’t recommend it due to alcohol, Skinfood Premium Lettuce & Cucumber Watery Toner, and Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Toner are all great!

  • Sarah

    Isn’t the point of toner to remove the last residue of cleanser? If you’re not using something to wipe it over your skin how does it do that? Surely it just then leaves it on your face? Pads do soak up a lot, but I don’t understand how it does its job if you apply with your hands?

    • Isabella Muse

      Absolutely but I double cleanser and rarely have leftover makeup, dirt, etc…I use toner to prep for the rest of my skincare ;-D so I do application with my hands.