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Astringent vs. Toner: Which Should You Use?

6 mins

Patricia Davis

Struggling to decide between astringent and toner for your skincare routine? Read on to learn the difference between the two and which is the better choice for you.

Designing a skincare routine can be difficult. With so many different steps and skincare products to choose from, you might feel a little lost. 

Certain areas of skincare are simple — for example, you may already know you need a cleanser, a moisturizer, and sunscreen. However, skincare can start to get tricky when you are asked to choose between products. 

For example, should you use a toner, an astringent, or both?

Truth be told, these two products share many similarities and are often used in place of one another. That being said, there are a few differences that, based on your skin's type and needs, can help you to make a decision that ultimately benefits your skin's health.

Today, we will discuss astringent and toner, how they function, how they vary, and how to implement them into your skincare routine.

Table of Contents: 

  • How Do Astringent and Toner Differ?
  • Should I Use an Astringent or a Toner?
  • How Are Toners and Tonics Different?

How Do Astringent and Toner Differ?

Toner is a substance that tones and firms the skin and also removes excess oil. The product is mostly water-based, making it very hydrating. Hydration is important for your skin's health because the epidermis relies on moisture to flush away toxins and carry nutrients to the skin's cells. Using hydrating products can rejuvenate your skin and keep it looking soft and smooth. 

Toners may contain various herbal extracts like chamomile, rose water, and green tea. 

Astringents are products that clean and purify your pores. Astringents may be alcohol or chemical based. It is much stronger than toner. Natural astringents include apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, or alcohol.

People who suffer from oily or acne-prone skin can benefit from astringent. Conversely, people prone to dry and flaky skin or sensitive skin that gets irritated easily will probably not respond well to it. 

oily skin with acne

Toners are generally more herbal-based. They contain herbal extracts or floral hydrosols, which are a substance that is created from extracting a part of herbal raw material. Floral hydrosols are varieties of flower water created by distilling plant materials. 

In short, toners are typically made with more natural ingredients. Astringents, on the other hand, are mostly alcohol-based. This results in a difference in strength. Toners are typically milder than astringents because astringent contains stronger ingredients that can be harsh on dry and sensitive skin.

When it comes to skin type, the effect that a specific toner will have on your skin depends on its ingredients. There are toners designed to be safe for every type of skin and other toners tailored toward specific skin types. 

There are toners for normal to oily skin to acne-prone skin, with anti-aging benefits, and more. This depends upon its various ingredients but especially the herbal compounds it contains. Astringents are usually geared towards skin that is prone to acne, that has blemishes, or that has an oily T-Zone. Your T-zone is defined as your forehead, chin, and nose.

t zone skin care

Toner is supposed to be healing and hydrating, so it can be mild on your skin when used correctly. It is also known to be slightly acidic. After application, you will find that your skin has been gently tightened. However, if used incorrectly or excessively, there is a chance that this acidity could disrupt the natural pH of your skin

As far as the astringents go, they are stronger and may be accompanied by a tingling sensation. They remove oil almost immediately from your face and make your skin feel tight and firm. 

Toners come in different varieties. They can be sprayed on your face or applied with a cotton ball. Refrain from spraying astringents to avoid accidentally getting ingredients like witch hazel in your eyes. 

To use your astringents safely, you can target specific areas. For example, if you struggle to combat chin acne or always have excess oil on your T-zone, you can try applying astringent only to those areas rather than all over your face. 

Only use the product on areas of your skin that need it, and avoid using it on areas that do not because it can result in dry skin and irritation. Not every skincare product needs to be applied to the entirety of your face. You should instead figure out what the specific parts of your face need and go from there. 

understanding my skin type

As for application, toners and astringents are similar in that they can be used twice a day, morning and night, after cleaning your skin. Regardless of which product you choose, they should be applied before other skin care products to ensure that your skin reaps all the benefits of the products and is better prepared for other ingredients.

What happens if you decide that astringent and toner are the right products for you, rather than settling on one or the other? Perhaps you like the specific benefits of your toning product but also require an astringent's help to remove excess oil from your skin. 

In this instance, try using the astringent in the morning and the toner at night. Alternatively, you can also try applying your astringent with a cotton ball on your skin's target areas, then spritzing your toner over your face after the initial product has been absorbed.

Should I Use an Astringent or a Toner?

As a holistic beauty brand committed to creating 100% vegan products backed by science, you can imagine where our alliance lies: with whatever is the most natural. 

Both astringents and toners can be natural, but as previously explained, astringents will often have an alcohol or chemical base. For this reason, when it comes to astringents and skin care that functions as an astringent, we formulate products that are 100% vegan while still offering astringent properties. 

For example, our best-selling Apple Cider Vinegar Face Wash can employ its astringent properties to deep clean your skin and shrink your pores.

apple cider vinegar face wash, face wash for oily skin

Another benefit to apple cider vinegar products is that the ingredient has powerful antimicrobial properties that restore the natural pH levels of your skin. This can minimize your concern about your skin care products destabilizing your natural pH levels.

Our Apple Cider Vinegar Face Wash is carefully designed to provide you with the best of both worlds. While it has the deep cleaning effects of an astringent, thanks to the apple cider vinegar, it is also rich in vitamins that can support your skin's hydration. Vitamin E is used in the cleanser to reduce any inflammation in the skin. Pro-vitamin B5 helps the skin to retain its moisture levels by improving your skin's hydration, softness, and elasticity.

As for toners, we have a couple of different toners that you can choose from. The first is our Vitamin C Skin Mist Toner. This toner is created using natural ingredients, including Kakadu plum, lemon and orange essential oils, jojoba oil, and active vitamin C.

skin mist toner for oily skin

The Kakadu plum is a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidant gallic acid that helps to fade scars and spots, even out your complexion, and protect you from ultraviolet damage. The lemon and orange essential oils are also rich in vitamin C, fatty acids, and minerals that help purify the skin and reduce excess sebum. 

Jojoba oil is a powerful moisturizer that contains B, C, and E vitamins that can support the recovery of damaged skin. Finally, the active vitamin C used in the toner acts as a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage your skin cells if left unattended.

Together, these ingredients produce a hydrating and energizing toner packed with rejuvenating botanicals. You can use our product to refresh your skin on the go or to prep your skin for other skincare and makeup. The mist is designed to revive dull, dehydrated skin, giving you a youthful glow.

Our second toner is the Coconut Super Rich Facial Toner. Like our previously discussed products, this toner is packed with natural ingredients that work to refine and balance your skin tone. These ingredients include cucumber water, green tea, aloe vera, and coconut water.

coconut rich toner

Cucumber water contains vitamin C, silica, and caffeic acid. This allows our toner to help neutralize free radicals, in turn protecting your skin from damage and combating premature aging. Similarly, green tea is rich in antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals and keep your skin youthful.

Aloe vera helps to moisturize the skin and treat various skin conditions, including acne, sunburn, and eczema. Coconut water is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. As the star ingredient of our toner, coconut water is used to keep your skin balanced. In addition to moisturizing your skin, it restores its natural pH balance.

This carefully crafted formula revives dull skin, minimizes pores, and restores supple radiance. Since it is a toner, it is alcohol-free and does not strip your skin dry. Instead, it is loaded with natural hydrating ingredients that help tone and soothe your skin.

How Are Toners and Tonics Different?

In addition to toner, we also offer an all-natural tonic. But what is the difference between a toner and a tonic? Both products have hydrating effects, but some differences should be considered before making your selection.

Toners are designed for a variety of purposes. Depending on its ingredients, the product can be tailored toward different skin types and can have a myriad of specialties. Though the foundational design of every toner is to clear and tone skin, it will often feature other ingredients that can target several skin concerns.

Tonics, on the other hand, are more focused. It is common for tonics to be designed solely to deliver moisture to the skin. Tonics will often contain hyaluronic acid and herbal ingredients such as rose water, which helps skin to stretch and minimizes the appearance of fine lines.

These ingredients serve two primary purposes. The first is to hydrate your skin, supporting the appearance of a natural, healthy glow. The second is to open up your pores and prepare your skin for the rest of your skincare routine. Both toners and tonics can be used to prime your skin for other beneficial products and ingredients.

how to have glowing skin, spotless skin tips

If you are interested in using a tonic, we suggest trying WOW Skin Science 10-in-1 Apple Cider Vinegar Mist Tonic. Our moisturizing face mist spray is ideal for hydrating and softening your skin. The product is infused with apple cider vinegar, green tea extract, tea tree essential oil, and lavender essential oil.

Apple cider vinegar has powerful antimicrobial properties that can restore the natural pH levels of your skin. Green tea is rich in antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals and protect your skin from damage. The tea tree essential oil contains antioxidants that allow it to protect and clean the skin, as well as improve circulation for a collagen boost. The lavender essential oil soothes the skin, treats irritation, and refines your pores.

The primary focus of our plant-based product is to balance and hydrate your skin. After cleansing your skin, lightly spray the mist over your face. Allow it to dry naturally before continuing with your skincare routine.

Regarding skincare, the correct answer depends on you and your personal needs. Your skin is unique. What works for you might not work for everyone. What matters is that you are doing your research before applying new products to your skin. 

With so many different skin care products on the market, it can be difficult to differentiate between them, especially when they share as many commonalities as astringents, toners, and tonics do. Still, that minor difference might just be what your skin is missing.

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Patricia Davis

If you are searching for the right guidance for beauty and wellness products, then Patricia Davis is the person to follow. She has been making people more aware of beauty, wellness, and health products, with her regular posts, product reviews, and more. Her domain expertise, obtained through years of work as a beauty magazine editor, helps immensely.

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Author: Patricia Davis

Patricia Davis

If you are searching for the right guidance for beauty and wellness products, then Patricia Davis is the person to follow. She has been making people more aware of beauty, wellness, and health products, with her regular posts, product reviews, and more. Her domain expertise, obtained through years of work as a beauty magazine editor, helps immensely.
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