Astringent vs toner: which one suits your skin?

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Tonic and astringent: At first glance, they seem almost identical. But there are key differences, and one will suit you better than the other, depending on your skin type.

What differentiates the toner from the astringent? Why choose one product over the other?

Petri Eschger / Getty Images

What is toner?

Toner is a water-based skin care product. It is mainly used to remove makeup and cleanser traces that may remain on the skin after washing.

Glycerin and other moisturizers are often the main ingredients in tonics. They can help hydrate the skin and make it softer and smoother.

Toners can also contain substances like herbal extracts and flower water, antioxidants, and anti-aging ingredients like niacinamide. These cosmeceutical ingredients can help improve skin texture, brighten complexion, and even skin tone.

Toners can be used for all skin types, but are especially good for normal to dry skin or sensitive skin.

What is astringent?

Astringents are also water-based skin care products that are used after washing to remove makeup and cleanser residues. The main difference between an astringent and a cleanser is that astringents are also formulated to remove excess oil from the skin.

You can think of astringent as a stronger form of toner. Astringents are likely to contain a higher concentration of alcohol (such as SD alcohol or denatured alcohol) than toners. They also often contain ingredients like salicylic acid , which help fight acne and acne .

However, not all astringents contain alcohol, and since alcohol can dry out and irritate the skin, many skincare professionals now suggest avoiding it. However, toners without it can reduce excess oil on the skin's surface and provide anti-aging and exfoliating properties; look for new ingredients like alpha and beta hydroxy acids or glycolic , lactic and malic acids.

Because astringents are designed to remove excess sebum from the skin, they are best for combination to oily skin and acne-prone skin.

How are toners and binders used?

Toners and astringents are used after cleansing and before hydration. Dampen a cotton ball or cotton pad with the product and gently apply it to the entire face and neck (however, keep out of sight). Some toners come in spray bottles, in which case just apply a small amount of the liquid to your face.

Toners and astringents will not be removed, so they will not be removed. After toning / astringent, apply moisturizer and any other skin care products you have ( acne medications , anti-aging serums, eye creams, sunscreen , etc.).

It's best to apply a moisturizer right away, even if your face is a bit damp from the toner or astringent, this will help retain moisture. However, when using other products, especially acne treatments, topical retinoids , and sunscreens, your skin must be completely dry. Applying them to damp skin can cause irritation or make them less effective.

Are toners and astringents needed?

Beauty professionals have championed the cleansing, toning, and moisturizing routine of skincare for so long that we rarely think about it. You may be surprised to learn that tonics and astringents have never been shown to be effective.

These skin care products were created many years ago, when the options for cleansing the face were limited to a simple soap or cold cream. Any of them left a nasty film on the skin that you could feel. Astringents (not previously called tonics ) were developed to remove residue from facial cleansers.

Today's cleaning options are so much better that you generally don't need an additional skin care product for the sole purpose of removing cleanser residue. While most estheticians say that toning products are an important part of daily skin care, many dermatologists are more skeptical.

Toners and astringents are not essential skin care products.

It sounds like skin care blasphemy, but scientifically there is nothing that requires the use of a toner or astringent. So if you don't want to use it, that's fine. It won't do any harm to your skin if you don't use it.

Toners / Astringents and pH of the skin

In the past, cleaners were very alkaline. Healthy skin is naturally slightly acidic. Toners and astringents were also used to help the skin return to its normal pH level.

The cleaning bars and detergents we have today are much less alkaline than they used to be. We also learned more about how skin works. Cleansers do not alter the pH of the skin as much as we previously thought. Your skin also balances its own pH fairly quickly. This way, even if you use a slightly alkaline cleanser, your skin will return to its normal pH without the need for a separate pH balancer.

Many tonics and astringents are still advertised as "pH balanced," but today this is more of a marketing term than actual skin benefits. This does not mean that the pH of the skin is not important; That. But the importance of tonics and astringents in maintaining a healthy pH is overstated.

Tonic / astringent and your pores

But doesn't toning close your pores ? Not really. The pores of the skin are not like doors; they do not open or close.

Astringent and toners help shrink pores . Certain ingredients can cause a temporary plumping effect on the skin, tightening the pores, although they do not change the size of the pores at all.

Dead skin and oil trapped plugs in the pores stretch them, making them more visible. Astringents that contain acne-fighting ingredients cleanse these plugs, allowing the pores to return to normal size so that they appear smaller in comparison. But again, the product does not close the pores or change the size of the pores permanently .

How to choose the right product

There are so many different toners and astringents on the market that it can be difficult to choose the right one. To add to the confusion, some cosmetic brands give their products names such as "balancers," "cleansing waters," or "air fresheners. "

It doesn't really matter what term is used to describe the product. When choosing a tonic, the ingredients play a key role.

For dry skin

Your skin will feel better with a product that helps hydrate your skin. Look for moisturizers in toner:

  • Glycerol
  • Propylene glycol
  • Butylene glycol
  • Aloe
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Sodium lactate

For oily skin

An astringent is what you need to remove excess oil and leave your skin looking fresh and matte. Alcohol is a common ingredient that leaves a tingling sensation on the skin. However, many skincare professionals now recommend avoiding this ingredient, which can actually make acne and irritation worse as the skin reacts by producing more oil to compensate. Most people are best served with an alcohol-free astringent that instead uses acids to exfoliate and reduce oil production.

Remember that all astringents can be too dry if overused or if your skin is not very oily; gradually incorporate a new product into your daily routine, perhaps alternating it overnight, until you understand the effect on your skin.

For skin prone to acne or blemishes.

Astringents alone will not clear acne. Although astringents remove oil from the surface, it is not the oil from the surface that causes breakouts. This oil, which is found deeper in the pores, causes acne. To reduce these oil plugs in your pores, your astringent must contain an acne-fighting ingredient. Look for new acids like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid in the ingredient list.

But just because you're dealing with acne doesn't automatically mean you should use an astringent. If your skin is not too oily or if you are already taking acne medication, stop using the astringent. Instead, use a softer toner.

For sensitive skin

Take special care when choosing a product for sensitive skin. Alcohol-free astringents are suitable for sensitive but oily skin. For all others, use toner.

Some common toner ingredients to avoid if your skin is sensitive:

  • Smell
  • Dyes
  • Alcohol
  • Menthol
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

If any product burns, bites, or leaves your face flushed or tense, stop using it. Try a different product or just remove the toner / astringent from your daily skincare routine. For sensitive skin, less is better.

For normal to combination skin

You have a variety of options for your skin type not too dry but not too oily (also known as "normal"). You most likely don't need the oil-strengthening properties of an astringent, so you'll love the toner more. Your ideal product will leave your skin fresh and clean, never tight or dry, and should not leave marks.

For combination skin, use an astringent only in the oily areas, that is, the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin). Just skip the dry areas.

Looking for an inexpensive option? Witch hazel has mild astringent properties and is suitable for most skin types .

Can you use both?

Yes, if you want, but only if you have oily skin. Perhaps you want the benefits of a certain toner, as well as a remedy to eliminate excess fat. Try using an astringent in the morning and a toner in the evening. Or you can apply the astringent first with a cotton pad, let it dry for 30 seconds – 1 minute, and then apply toner on top.

To be clear, you don't have a compelling reason to use both products. But if you really love skin care products and how they make your skin feel, you can use both an astringent and a toner without damaging your skin, as long as you have oily skin. If your skin is dry or sensitive, do not use the astringent completely and use a toner instead.

You can also switch between toners and astringents throughout the year if your skin changes with the seasons. For example, if your skin gets oily during hot and humid summers, you will love the deep cleansing properties of the astringent. But since your skin tends to dry out during the winter months, you should switch to a toner that removes less.

Get the word of drug information

To keep things simple, remember this: an astringent for oily skin and a toner for everyone else. Whichever product you choose, it should leave a pleasant feeling on your skin. If it makes your skin feel tight, too dry, itchy, or red, this is not the best product for you.

No tonic or astringent is needed for skin care. If you don't want to use it, that's fine. Instead, you can focus on the foundation of your healthy daily skin care: cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

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