Astringent vs. Toner — What's the Difference?
The skin-care market is packed with products that offer similar benefits, yet differ in many ways. Prime examples: salt scrubs and sugar scrubs, balms and ointments, and toners and astringents. If you’ve ever found yourself asking what each of these products is used for and if there’s even a difference between the two, you’ve come to the right place. Ahead, we break down what each product does and which skin types they’re best for.
What Do Toners or Astringents Do for Your Skin?
Both are water-based solutions that can help cleanse the surface of the 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, they are typically used to help tighten the appearance of pores. The main difference between the two boils down to their formulations. Toners tend to be milder and less drying than astringents.
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 versus an astringent. Here’s what we recommend:
Dry Skin Types Should Use Toners
Because astringents can be formulated with alcohol — which can cause dryness — it’s not the best choice for dry skin. 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 Types Should Use Astringents
If you suffer from excessively oily or acne-prone skin, you may find benefits from using either product. Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion 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 contains salicylic and glycolic acids to help remove pore-clogging surface dirt, debris and dead skin cells to leave the skin feeling refreshed and toned.
Sensitive Skin Types Should Use Toners
Sensitive skin types should avoid products formulated with alcohol. There are plenty of toners that are designed for use on sensitive skin, like the Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner. This mild toner is formulated with 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 for ingredients you know may cause irritation.
How Should You Use Toners or Astringents?
The suggested routine is to apply either product after cleansing skin in order to help prep it for moisturizer and remove any lingering residue. Soak a cotton pad with your solution of choice and gently sweep it across your face. If you see any signs of irritation, lessen your frequency of use or consider switching to a milder formula.
Keep in mind that mild toners are typically suitable for daily use — up to twice per day. Because 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 first to see how it reacts. For best results, always follow the label instructions on your product of choice.