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Here's Why You Should Consider Adding A *Tone Up* Cream To Your Beauty Routine

It helps even out your skin tone!
ultimate guide to adding a tone-up cream to your routine
PHOTO: (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) Instagram/innisfreephilippines, YOU Beauty

Tone up creams have existed for a while. Like most skincare innovations, they were popularized by the K-beauty industry. While it has the word "tone" in it, it’s not a toner but instead refers to how the product can change the appearance of your skin tone—i.e. brighten it. There’s more to it! It’s not a moisturizer even though it has the word “cream” in it. Confusing, we know. 

If you’re thinking of giving tone up creams a go in your routine, keep reading for our ultimate guide!

What is a tone up cream used for?

Tone up creams are a makeup and skincare product in one. According to K-beauty bible The Klog, it’s specifically made to brighten your skin while fighting hyperpigmentation and discoloration. If you have leftover post-acne marks or new freckles, a tone up cream can help reduce their appearance. Its formula, often primer-like, also acts as a makeup base as it can blur pores and fine lines—making it easier to apply a layer of foundation on top!


How is it different from a day/night cream or moisturizer?

Moisturizers are hydrating and work to seal in all the other products you used on your face (serums, essences, etc.) before it. Some moisturizers can even repair skin barriers

Tone up creams, on the other hand, can have hydrating ingredients but their purpose is to even out your skin tone. But as we said, it blurs the line between makeup and skincare so don’t be surprised if you see some tone up moisturizers, tone up primers, and tone up sunscreens! 

When can I use tone up cream?

Tone up creams are best used at the end of your skincare routine (right after sunscreen) and before applying your foundation. Since some formulas also have pore-blurring capabilities, they make an excellent base for foundation to stay on. Ed’s Note: If your sunscreen or moisturizer is also a tone up formula, you can use it in place of your original products.

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How do you apply it?

Tone up creams are often white or pink, so how much you apply will depend on how bright you want your skin to look. If you have a tan, or darker, complexion, apply as little as possible to avoid a white cast or looking gray. Once you have your desired amount on your hand, gently tap it onto your skin until it’s fully absorbed. Then, if you want more coverage, you can go in with your foundation.

Application tips

Still confused over how to apply tone up cream? Check out our tips!

  • Do your regular skincare routine and ensure each product is well absorbed into the skin.
  • The next step is v v important: Apply the tone up cream in layers, using small amounts. The best way to avoid appearing like a ghost is to spread a thin layer and tap it in!
  • Work the layers in sections, so the product doesn’t dry up on your skin.
  • Wait for your skin to completely absorb your first layer and apply a second layer, if (and that’s a big IF) needed. Less is more with tone up creams! This is not the time to try Meredith Duxbury’s technique for applying products.

Best tone up creams to try

Ready to add a tone up cream to your routine? From primers to moisturizers and even a sunscreen, here are various types of tone up creams you can try to spice up your everyday beauty regimens!

  1. YOU Dazzling Tone Up Face Cream

    A moisturizer, SPF, tone up cream, and primer in one! YOU's Dazzling Tone Up Face Cream is formulated with Niacinamide and Tranexamic Acid to combat dark spots, but also has Glycerin to hydrate your skin and Titanium Dioxide for sun protection. After your cleansing, toning, and serum steps, this can replace your moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup base. And for the price? Galing

    ultimate guide to adding a tone-up cream to your routine

    YOU Dazzling Tone Up Face Cream, P149, Watsons 

  2. Pond’s Instabright Tone Up Milk Cream

    A classic tone up cream; this product is enriched with Milk Essence, Vitamin B3, and InstaBright Technology to brighten your skin upon application. It also progressively evens out your skin tone. This means the more you use it, the more even your complexion will look in the long run!


    Pond’s Instabright Tone Up Milk Cream, P280, Shopee

  3. Vaseline Tone Up Sun Cream SPF40/PA+++

    Vaseline's sunscreen is perfect for the Philippines' hot weather! It has a cooling effect upon application, naturally brightens your complexion, and is non-sticky with a matte finish.

    ultimate guide to adding a tone-up cream to your routine

    Vaseline Tone Up Sun Cream SPF40/PA+++, P399, Watsons

  4. Nacific Phyto Niacin Whitening Tone Up Cream

    Don’t let the "Whitening" in this product scare you, it just means it brightens dull skin! Suitable for drier skin types, Nacific’s tone up cream not only reduces dullness and dark spots, but it can also give your skin a soft, glowing effect similar to that of your favorite K-drama actors!


    Nacific Phyto Niacin Whitening Tone Up Cream, P659, Lazada

  5. SOME BY MI V10 Vitamin Tone Up Cream

    SOME BY MI’s tone up cream will let you skip moisturizer! It contains 10 types of vitamins (such as C, B3, and G) that nourish and hydrate skin, in addition to brightening it and improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time. If you’re skeptical because your skin is sensitive, don’t worry. It’s also dermatologically tested to suit reactive skin types!

    ultimate guide to adding a tone-up cream to your routine

    SOME BY MI V10 Vitamin Tone Up Cream, P923, Shopee

  6. Innisfree Tone Up No Watering Sunscreen Ex

    Unlike most tone up sunscreens that contain Zinc or Titanium Dioxide, Innisfree’s version contains Vitamin C to brighten and give skin a natural "tone up" effect. The best thing about it is it has both physical and chemical UV filters to prevent UVB and UVA rays from damaging and burning your skin! Since it’s a sunscreen, it’s important to use at least two to three fingers' worth for optimal protection.


    Innisfree Tone Up No Sebum Sunscreen Ex, P950, Shopee

  7. COSRX Sunny Snail Tone Up Cream

    Snail Mucin and Niacinamide are married to create a natural glow on your skin. COSRX’s tone up cream makes skin look so glowy you won’t need a highlighter anymore. Perfect for oily and combination skin types, its fresh, powdery finish makes it the perfect tone up cream for the summer months! For best results, tap it in instead of spreading it with your hands.

    ultimate guide to adding a tone-up cream to your routine

    COSRX Sunny Snail Tone Up Cream, P965, Lazada


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