Astringent Vs. Toner, What's the Actual Difference?
Confused about the difference between astringent and toner? You’re probably not alone. That’s why we’re hoping to clear up the fog, below!
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 Skincare.com, 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 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, they are typically used to help tighten the appearance of pores.
What Is the Difference Between Astringent and Toner?
The main difference boils down to their formulations. Toners tend to be more mild and less drying.
What Skin Types Can Use Them?
Due to the varying formulas, it’s important to take your skin type into consideration before choosing a toner vs. astringent. Here’s what we recommend:
Dry skin: Since astringents can be formulated with alcohol—which can cause dryness—it’s not the best choice for use on dry skin. Why risk drying your skin out even further? Instead, reach for a hydrating, alcohol-free toner. We recommend Vichy Pureté Thermale Face Toner. The alcohol-free, ultra-gentle toner helps remove lingering cleanser residue and impurities, while moisturizing the skin for a clean, refreshed complexion.
Oily or combination skin: If you suffer from excessively oily or acne-prone skin, you may find benefits from using either product. Try Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion. The unique formulation has been created for use after shaving or on oily-prone areas. If you’re looking for a toner, reach for La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution. The formula—with salicylic and glycolic acids—helps remove pore-clogging surface dirt and debris and dead skin cells to leave the skin feeling refreshed and looking even-toned.
Sensitive skin: Sensitive skin types should avoid products formulated with alcohol. There are plenty of toners that are designed for use on sensitive skin, like Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner. The mildest of all toners in the brand portfolio, this formula is made with the finest herbal extracts to leave the skin soft, clean, and toned with a comfortable after-feel. Before settling on a toner for your sensitive skin, be sure to scan any product label before purchasing.
How Should You Use Toners or Astringents?
The suggested routine is to apply either one after cleansing skin in order to help prep the skin for moisturizer and help remove any lingering residue. Soak a cotton pad with your solution of choice and gently sweep it across your facial zones. If you see any signs of irritation, lessen your frequency of use. Consider switching to a milder formula or ceasing use altogether.
Editor’s note: Keep in mind that mild toners are typically suitable for daily use—up to twice per day. Since astringents are typically more powerful, it’s important not to overdo their use. Using too much astringent on your oily skin may cause unwanted dryness and potentially lead to the secretion of excess oil. The bottom line? Pay attention to your skin type. If you’re new to toners or astringents, test the product on a small patch of skin on the inside of your wrist to see how your skin reacts. For best results, always follow the label instructions on your product of choice.