Toners & Astringents

Toners are milder than astringents, according to the Whole Living website. Toners typically contain natural ingredients, such as waters steeped with flowers and/or herbal extracts. Examples of this include rosewater, aloe extract or chamomile. Astringents are made of alcohol-based products, such as witch hazel.

A good skin-care routine begin with cleansing the skin, which helps to rid it of dirt and oils. Next, dependent upon a person’s skin type and desired result, a toner or astringent is applied using a cotton pad or cotton ball swiped gently across the skin. Because cleansing the skin can leave a residue, a toner or astringent helps to remove this residue prior to applying moisturizer.

If you have sensitive skin, use a toner. As toners tend to be less drying or potentially irritating to the skin. Astringents work best on normal, oily or non-sensitive skin types. Because astringents contain alcohol or witch hazel — both of which can be drying to the skin — these should be used only on skin that has excess amounts of moisture.

While some effects, such as removing the film left over from cleansing, are shared by toner and astringent, each offers slight differences. For example, toners can keep the skin hydrated and may contain herbal ingredients, such as citrus fruits, that reduce the amount of free radicals on the skin. Toners also are slightly acidic. They help to restore pH balance to the skin, and can help to reduce breakouts. Astringents may have a diminishing effect on the skin’s pores, which creates a tingling sensation on the skin.

Regardless of the type chosen, it’s important to gently sweep the toner-soaked cotton ball/pad across the skin. Some users make numerous swipes over the skin, which can leave the skin feeling dry and negatively alter the pH balance of the skin. Also, if your skin shows signs of irritation following toner or astringent application, you should use less toner or astringent. It’s best to switch to a milder toner or astringent; or cease use altogether.

BB creams and CC creams. Day creams and night creams. The skin care market is packed with products that offer similar benefits, yet differ in many ways. Here at, we’ve tackled many of these debates to help our readers make educated decisions about which products to add to their respective skincare arsenals. Our next victims? Toners and astringents. What is toner used for? What is astringent used for? What’s the difference between the two (if there is one!) and—most importantly—which one is right for your skin? Ahead, we put all the confusion to rest. Keep reading for answers to your most burning toner vs. astringent questions.

WHAT CAN TONERS OR ASTRINGENTS DO FOR YOUR SKIN? Both toners and astringents are water-based solutions that can help cleanse surface skin of pore-clogging impurities, dirt, residue, and excess oil. Depending on the formula, toners can also help moisturize skin to address dryness. Astringents, on the other hand, are usually more potent than toners. In addition to cleansing surface skin, astringents are typically used to help tighten the appearance of pores.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ASTRINGENT AND TONER? The main difference between toners and astringents boils down to their formulations. Toners tend to be more mild and less drying than astringents.

WHAT SKIN TYPES CAN USE TONERS OR ASTRINGENTS? Due to the varying formulas of toners and astringents, it’s important to take your skin type into consideration before choosing a toner vs. astringent. Here’s what we recommend:

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