Q: What is the stuff that comes off on toner-saturated cotton ball after I wash my face?
A: I've wondered that, too, about my own face. I used to like toner for the way it got me feeling squeaky clean. But "you can clean the skin without stripping it," says Heidi Waldorf, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. That's right: What you're seeing on the cotton ball is a combination of oil, residual makeup—and skin cells. Instead of toner, Waldorf recommends using a soft, premoistened makeup remover towelette (like Garnier Nutritioniste Wet Cleansing Towelettes, $6.50, or Neutrogena Make-up Remover Cleansing Towelettes, $9, Drugstore.com; or Physicians Formula Organic Wear Makeup Remover Towelettes, $7, drugstores), followed by either a gentle cleanser if you think you need it or a nighttime treatment (a moisturizer or a retinoid, for example).