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What Does Astringent Do and Is It the Same as Toner?

The facts you need before you modify your skin care routine.
August 21, 2020

If you’re a huge skin care lover like us, chances are you’re familiar with most popular skin care ingredients and products you come across. That being said, there’s always room to learn about a product you may not be as familiar with, especially with new product categories popping up every season. The product on today’s agenda? Astringent. Yep, it’s been around for quite some time and the term has been floating around forums and social media a lot. But ask yourself, do you actually know what astringent is and what it does? If you’ve ever considered adding it to your skin care routine then you don’t want to take a chance on “sort of.” Below, we’re sharing the details on what astringent is, the truth about astringent versus toner, if astringent is good for acne and more.


What Is Astringent?

Simply put, astringent is defined as a water-based cleanser — but a much stronger, more potent one. For that reason, it isn't meant to replace your traditional face wash. The word astringent is also an adjective that means ‘to cause the contraction of skin cells.’ So as it relates to the product at hand, astringents are formulated to remove excess oil from your skin and tighten pores.

While you can’t shrink your pores, like many of us wish we could, you can make them appear smaller, and that’s part of the appeal of using an astringent. Consider astringents to be the perfect option for those who want an extra-deep cleaning or are all about pore-minimizing products.


Astringent vs. Toner: What’s the Difference?

Wondering what the difference is between astringent and toner? While both products are water-based cleansing options and may look similar thanks to their liquid consistencies, the two vary significantly in their formulas. Astringents are formulated with alcohol (so, yes, astringent is antibacterial), which is one of the reasons why they’re so potent. Toners are typically a gentler alternative, as they don’t have to contain alcohol.

Astringent and toner also offer different purposes. Astringents are centered around pore cleansing, while toners can have a variety of uses. There are hydrating toners, exfoliating toners, illuminating toners and so on. You can use both astringent and toner in your routine, or you might find one or the other is better suited to your skin type.

We love the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5% Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner for its gentle formula that can be used every night. The glycolic acid removes dead skin cells to reveal smoother, more even skin with daily use. Plus, with aloe vera, your skin will stay soothed so you can get a comfortable, radiant glow.


Who Should Use Astringent?

Since astringents are formulated with alcohol, they can have the tendency to dry out your skin. For this reason, astringents are best for those with oily or acne-prone skin. They work to reduce the sebum and residue that could be causing unwanted breakouts.

On the other hand, those with sensitive or dry skin should steer clear of astringents because of their drying quality. As a general rule of thumb, toners are suitable for all skin types, whereas astringents should be used with caution and in moderation based on your skin’s needs. As for whether you can use astringent every day, the same rules apply. If you have oily skin, you can use one in both your morning and evening routines. If you have sensitive skin, you might be better off avoiding daily use. Be sure to consult with your dermatologist before you introduce any new product into your skin care routine to ensure that it’s right for your skin care concerns.


How to Use Astringent in Your Skin Care Routine

Think astringent is a product worth adding to your daily skin care regimen? Here’s how to put one to use in just three steps.


Step 1: Cleanse Your Complexion

First, you’ll want to cleanse your skin with a traditional facial cleanser. Consider looking for a mild cleanser formulated for your skin’s needs, like the L’Oréal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water Complete Cleanser Waterproof - All Skin Types. This micellar water is gentle on your skin while removing makeup, dirt and excess oil in one step, leaving your skin looking purified and clear. Saturate a cotton pad and gently wipe it over your face.


Step 2: Grab Your Astringent

Next, reach for the product of the hour. Saturate a cotton pad with your astringent, and softly rub it across your face to deeply clean and purify your complexion. It’s that simple.

Editor’s tip: Considering trying a witch hazel astringent? You can read all about the ingredient in our article, What Is Witch Hazel and Should You Use It?.


Step 3: Apply Moisturizer With SPF

Even though astringents are great for removing excess oils and residue from your complexion, there’s a risk they may be harsh on your skin, so follow up with a moisturizer. When all is said and done, finish your skin care routine with a moisturizer with SPF to soothe and protect your skin. We have a few star options to choose from.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30: This anti-aging moisturizer contains Pro-Retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and SPF 30. The formula helps reduce wrinkles, smooth and brighten your skin. The result? Skin that feels healthier, softer and more refreshed.

L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Collagen Expert Day Moisturizer SPF 30: This daily face moisturizer combats aging with a winning combination of collagen peptides, niacinamide and SPF 30 that helps rehydrate your skin instantly. And after just four weeks, your face will appear more plump, firm and radiant.

L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal Anti-Aging Day Moisturizer SPF 25: Formulated with antioxidants, vitamin E and SPF 25, this moisturizer encourages cell turnover to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and reveal brighter, ultra-hydrated and younger-looking skin.

Next: What Is Salicylic Acid and What Does It Do?

Edited by: Catharine Malzahn, Photography: Chaunte Vaughn, Senior Art Direction: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Senior Visual Designer: Hannah Packer, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Assistant: Victoria Ochoa, Digital Tech: Kyle Thompson, Model: AnnChristine Velazquez

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