Does Rubbing Alcohol Make a Good Facial Toner?

Updated May 21, 2014.

Question: Does Rubbing Alcohol Make a Good Facial Toner?

My friend, who has beautiful skin, suggested I use rubbing alcohol as a toner. She says it will help clean my pores, plus it’s inexpensive. Is this a good idea?


To many of us, rubbing (or isopropyl) alcohol smells antiseptic and medicinal. So it would seem that it would get our skin really clean. After all, it’s used to clean wounds and sanitize the skin before injections.

Rubbing alcohol actually makes a terrible skin toner. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for rubbing alcohol lists it as a possible skin irritant. It can also cause severe eye irritation. It’s recommended that rubbing alcohol be used in a well-ventilated area only. Definitely doesn’t sound like something you want to be bathing your face in, right?

Also, rubbing alcohol is super drying to the skin, especially when you are using other drying acne treatments (such as benzoyl peroxide or Retin-A) And just think how it will burn if used on already dry, chapped skin, or on open pimples. Ouch!

If you’re trying to dry up or heal existing pimples, you’ll get much better results with proven acne treatments. Some treatments even come in a toner-like solution, if you like that consistency.

To combat oiliness, an astringent toner will help remove excess skin oils in a more gentle fashion. For a super inexpensive alternative, try witch hazel instead. Witch hazel is an astringent, cleansing to the skin, and costs about a dollar a bottle. You can find it at any drug store.


“Occupational Safety and Health Guideline for Isopropyl Alcohol.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 05 Aug 2008. U.S. Department of Labor. 13 Mar 2009 <>.