This Korean beauty skin-care technique is all the rage. But does it actually do anything??
Out-of-the-box K-beauty trends and products are nothing new. From serums made with snail extract to complicated 12-step skin-care routines, we thought we'd seen it all...until we heard about the "7 Skin Method," which involves moisturizing your skin by applying seven (yes, seven) layers of toner.
Admittedly, using toner at all—much less applying it seven times in a row—isn't something we're doing on the reg. So we asked a few top dermatologists to weigh in and help us determine whether this toner technique is worth trying.
First, think about this in the context of IRL: "The reality is that washing, moisturizing, and applying sunscreen is a big enough chore for most of us. Before even getting to the meat of the matter, seven steps simply seems unrealistic," says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.
Point taken. But what if you are that unicorn who can and/or wants to dedicate tons of time to her skin-care routine? It's important to keep in mind that not all toners are created equal. "In the past, most toners were very astringent, containing witch hazel or alcohol to make skin feel tight and 'squeaky clean,'" says Deirdre Hooper, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Louisiana State University. "But now there are many alcohol-free formulas with hydrating and soothing ingredients," she points out. It's worth noting that these are exactly the kinds of toner recommended for the 7 Skin Method. And yes, if they have hydrating ingredients in them, they will moisturize your skin, Hooper says. Still, "the seven applications won't make a difference—the point is just to use enough product to fully cover your skin," she adds.
Proponents say that the 7 Skin Method delivers more lightweight moisture, without any of the greasiness or heaviness that can come from using creams or oils. And that may be true, since while hydrating toners typically contain humectants (ingredients that attract water to the skin, like glycerin and hyaluronic acid), they don't contain occlusive ingredients, which sit on top of the skin and lock this moisture in. But you can get that same kind of lightweight hydration by using a standard, oil-free face lotion that doesn't contain occlusive ingredients.
And actually, while these may be called "toners," they're really more akin to watery lotions anyway, notes Peter Lio, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University. "Multiple applications of these seem to be an expensive and time-consuming way to accomplish something similar to that of a lotion," he adds. Not to mention that if your skin is super dry, this kind of lightweight moisture isn't going to cut it.
However, the real benefit and takeaway of the 7 Skin Method isn't so much about how many layers of toner are being used, but how it's being applied: "This technique involves pressing the product directly into the skin, without using a cotton pad, which is always a good move since you don't want the cotton absorbing all of the product," explains Hooper. Noted.
Bottom line: If you have the time (and toner) to try this, go right ahead. But if not, using one layer of a lightweight face lotion will do just fine.