What is the difference between astringents and toners? Should you choose one over the other product?
What is Skin toner?
Generally, a toner is a water-based skincare product formulated to remove makeup and cleanser residue left on your skin after washing your face.
Humectants like glycerin are primary ingredients found in toners. They help hydrate your skin leaving it softer and smoother. Toners may have other ingredients such as herbal extracts, floral waters, antioxidants, and anti-aging (like niacinamide). These are called cosmeceutical ingredients, and they help improve the skin’s texture, even out skin tone, and brighten your complexion.
Toners can be used by all skin types, especially those with normal to dry skin, and sensitive skin types.
What is astringent?
Like toners, astringents are water-based skin care products that are applied after washing your face to remove left behind makeup and cleanser. The main difference between the astringent and a cleanser is that astringent is formulated to take away the excess oils from your skin.
You may think that astringents are a stronger form of toner. Astringents tend to have a higher concentration of alcohol, such as SD alcohol or denatured alcohol, compared with toners. Most of these astringents also contain salicylic acid to help fight blackheads and pimples.
However, there are astringents that do not have alcohol. These alcohol-free astringents may not be a strong skincare product, but they will still remove some excess oil on the surface of the skin. Primarily, astringents are formulated to cleanse excess oil from your skin, but they are best for those with combination to oily skin types, and those with acne-prone skin.
How do you use astringents and toners?
Astringents and toners are applied after cleansing and before moisturizing your skin. Dampen a cotton ball or cotton pad with the product. Then, apply over your whole face and neck area gently but avoid applying on your eyes. There are some toners that are contained in spritz bottles which may lightly mist your face.
The astringents and astringents are leave-on skin care products, and therefore, you will not wash them off. After applying astringent and toner, apply moisturizer and any skincare product that you have like acne medications, eye creams, sunscreen, and anti-aging serums. You can apply moisturizer right after the astringent/toning, and even if your face is slightly damp from the product. Some products especially the acne products, sunscreen, and topical retinoids, may require you to dry your skin thoroughly before applying. Using these on damp skin can cause irritation, or less effective.
Are astringents and toners required?
Skincare experts promote that “cleanse-tone-moisturize” skin care practices. These recommendations coming from them; some of us never question “why.” And when we read somewhere about how some astringents and toners not having been proven yet, we are surprised.
Skincare products like astringents and toners were formulated and produced many years ago. Those when the times when facial cleansing products were basic soaps or cold creams. Both of these have left unpleasant feeling on the skin. Way back then, astringents were not called toners, and they were formulated to remove the residue left by facial cleansers. These days, facial cleansing options are better, and you do not need more skincare products to remove cleansing residue.
Many estheticians explain that a toning product is an essential part of a healthy skin care regime, but some dermatologists are skeptical about this. On second thoughts, these products may not be necessary, so if you do not want to use one, it is ok.
On astringents/toners and skin pH
In the past, cleansing products were alkaline. Healthy skin is naturally mildly acidic. Astringents and toners help restore your skin’s pH to its normal levels.
What we have these days – cleansing washes and bars – are less alkaline than what they were used to have. In addition to this, we learned how our skin works. We learned that cleansing products do not impede the pH of the skin as we have previously believed. The skin can balance its pH. So, even if we use a cleaner with mild alkaline, the skin can restore its pH to its normal, on its own, with no separate pH-balancer required.
Some astringents and toners still promote that they are “pH balanced.” These days, they are using a more marketing term rather than the actual benefits for your skin. We all know that pH is indeed essential, but advertisers of astringents and toners claiming that these products can maintain a healthy pH are exaggerated.
On astringents/toners and skin pores
Does toning close the skin pores? Well, not really. Pores are not like doors that open and close.
Astringent and toners help the skin pores look smaller. Some ingredients contained in these products can cause a temporary tightening effect on the skin, making pores tense, although they are not changing the size of the pores at all.
The trapped plugs of dead skin cells and oils within the pores expand them, making them noticeable. Astringent with blemish-fighting ingredients remove these plugs and allow pores to restore to their normal size, so they appear smaller in comparison. Again, these products do not close pores and do not permanently change the size of pores.
On using both an astringent and toner
Only if you have oily skin, then you can use both astringent and toner. You can look for a particular toner that benefits you the most. Look for a product that helps remove excess oil. Apply astringent in the morning and toner at night. Or, you can use astringent first with a cotton ball and allow it to dry for about 30 seconds to one minute. Then, spray a toner over the top.
There is no urging reason to use both astringent and toner. However, if you already love your existing products and how they feel on your skin and you have oily skin, use both as long as they do not harm your oily skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin, avoid astringent and just use a toner.
You can also switch from astringents and toners the entire year if your skin seems to change with the seasons. If your skin gets oily during humid summer days, you can use deep-cleansing quality astringent. But when your skin tends to dry during winter, switch to a less-stripping toner.
On choosing the right product for your skin
There are hundreds of various astringents and toners these days. It can be confusing in choosing the right product. Then, advertisers promote their products with marketing terms like “balancers,” “fresheners,” or “cleansing waters.” Honestly, it does not matter what marketing they use; the most important thing is you know the right products. The key is in the ingredients.
For acne- and blemish-prone skin
With this type of skin, astringents alone will not clear acne. Although astringents help remove the oils on the surface of the skin, take note that it is not the surface oil that can cause breakouts. It is the oil inside deep in the pores that help develop acne. To minimize oil plugs in the pores, astringent must have blemish-fighting ingredients. Choose astringent with salicylic acid or glycolic acid as active ingredients.
However, just because you are dealing with acne does not necessarily mean you must use astringent alone. If you have extremely dry skin, or if you are already applying an acne medication, avoid the astringent. Use a gentle toner, instead.
Best Astringents and Toners for your Acne-prone Skin
1. Thayers Rose Petal Toner
Thayers Rose Petal contains the essence of rose water that provides your skin with the essential properties of antioxidants and anti-aging that help gently nourish your skin while giving it a pleasant floral scent. This toner is good for those with combination skin type.
- Organic aloe vera as an active ingredient serves as antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic to help relieve acne-prone skin.
- Undistilled witch hazel extract is another antioxidant that helps clean and moisturizes your skin with a soothing effect.
- Glycerin has moisturizing properties good for the skin
- The soft rose scent gives a pleasant and refreshing feel.
- Alcohol-free, paraben-free
- Has thin consistency and so, it may get messy during the application. Use cotton wool when you are applying.
- Witch hazel extract can irritate those with sensitive skin so check first if you have allergic reactions to this ingredient.
2. Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner
This Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner is formulated that helps exfoliate the skin and nourish it giving you with a lasting smoother skin. It contains salicylic acid and willow bark extract that help minimize acne and prevent future breakouts. This toner suits best those with combination skin types.
- Contains salicylic acid that helps treat acne, pustules, and other blemishes.
- Glycerin helps in keeping an even skin texture
- Willow bark extract helps remove dead skin cells for clearer skin and get rid of the trapped acne-causing bacteria.
- Contains alcohol may irritate those with sensitive skin.
- Avoid this product if you have oily skin because of the presence of glycerin.
3. Body Merry Super C-22 Toner
The Body Merry Super C-22 Toner has a formulation that helps fight signs of aging, nourish dull-looking skin, tighten and tone your skin. This toner is suited to those with oily skin.
- Contains 22% vitamin C that helps fight signs of aging.
- Hazel and MSM that helps remove dirt, dead skin cells and acne-causing bacteria from your skin.
- Grapefruit seed, rosemary seed extract, green tea, vitamin E, and carrot oils are cleansing and antioxidant ingredients.
- If you have sensitive skin, you should use this product once a day only because of its high concentration of vitamin C which is acidic and can dry your skin. Follow this toner with a moisturizer.
- This toner can cause skin rashes or peel off your skin if you have dry skin.
4. Neutrogena Rapid Clear 2-in1 Fight & Fade Toner
Neutrogena Rapid Clear 2-in-1 Fight & Fade Toner is a refreshing, clinically proven formula that goes deep inside your skin to minimize breakouts, swelling, and redness within eight hours! It also helps accelerate surface cell exfoliation to reduce the marks of post-acne scars. This toner from Neutrogena is formulated for those with combination skin types.
- Contains salicylic acid as a primary ingredient that helps treat acne.
- Glycolic acid that helps accelerate exfoliation giving you a blemish-free skin.
- Helps remove excess oils from the skin and prevent the production of excess sebum, preventing any bacteria or dirt the grow in your skin.
- Neutrogena applied Microtechnology that helps in removing acne faster than any other acne products.
- Helps eliminate acne marks, post acne marks, hyperpigmented scars, and spotty skin.
- Contains denatured alcohol and parabens that can harm your skin.
- Has a powerful scent that may irritate those with sensitive skin.
- May cause extreme dryness, so you have to work out on the frequency of application.
- May cause extreme greasiness for those with oily skin.
5. Christina Moss Naturals Organic Facial Toner
The Christina Moss Naturals Organic Facial Toner is a hydrating toner formulated with skin nourishing and anti-aging ingredients such as aloe vera, witch hazel, green tea extract, Coenzyme Q10, and Edelweiss. And since the ingredients are natural, it fits all skin types, especially for oily skin types. This toner is also gentle to use around the sensitive eye area.
- Contains natural ingredients and free from a harsh chemical that can harm your skin.
- Helps remove excess oil, giving you a clear and nourished look.
- Has non-drying, anti-inflammatory ingredients safe for those with sensitive skin types.
- Contained in a small bottle, a tiny amount of toner, but expensive.
- If you have a history of being allergic to essential oils, this toner may cause some skin problems for you.
6. TreeActiv Balancing Herbal Toner
The TreeActiv Balancing Herbal Toner natural ingredients like witch hazel, clary sage, tea tree hydrosol, and rose water that has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. This toner helps reduce acne, oiliness, keeping your skin clear and clean without drying it. This toner fits best those with combination to dry and sensitive skin types.
- Suits almost all skin types, especially combination, dry, and sensitive skin types.
- Contains witch hazel extract that helps treat acne, minimize inflammation, balance sebum-producing on your face.
- Helps improve your skin tone by firming it and fight dry skin, freeing you from having puffy eyes and bags.
- Rose water has anti-inflammatory properties that help keep your skin blemish-free and soothes redness and irritation.
- Clary sage extract has antibacterial properties that help fight breakout-causing bacteria and other similar skin problems
- Tea tree water is another powerful ingredient that helps treat acne, blackheads, and whiteheads.
- Vitamin A. vitamin C and other antioxidant ingredients help control and balance the skin’s pH.
- Those with extremely oily skin type will not feel any changes after using this product.
7. Biore Blemish Treating Astringent
Biore Blemish Treating Astringent is a salicylic acid acne treatment that helps clean deeply, tone, and treat blemishes giving you clear pores. This astringent is gentle to use daily and minimize surface shine. It fits best individuals with oily and combination skin types.
- Contains salicylic acid as a primary ingredient in treating acne and pimples.
- Controls oils and shine, preventing clogged pores, making your skin breathe.
- Has other skin conditioning ingredients that help keep your skin hydrated, and the presence of absorbents help regulate the production of sebum.
- Even one application daily can give you clear and clean skin.
- Oil-free, dermatologist-tested astringent.
- Contains alcohol; may harm those who are sensitive to alcohol and those with oily skin types.
8. Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner
The Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner is an effective solution for pigmentation and wrinkles. It has 2% glycolic acid and grapefruit extract that work together to help exfoliate, refresh, and promote dry and congested skin. It also helps minimize discoloration from previous acne scars that caused the skin to look dull and tired. This toner suits best those with a combination and dry skin types.
- Glycolic acid helps rejuvenates your skin to speed up cell turnover for younger-looking skin.
- Helps deep cleaning of pores and treating fine lines and wrinkles, acne, blackheads and whiteheads.
- Citrus helps exfoliate and minimize dullness of the skin giving it a glow and radiance.
- Helps relieve hyperpigmentation
- Has parabens that may harm your skin in the long run
- With some scent that can cause some allergic reactions.
9. Murad Clarifying Toner
This Murad Clarifying Toner is formulated to help remove impurities from an oily and acne-prone skin without causing skin irritation. This suits best, individuals with combination skin types.
- Contains witch hazel extract that helps tighten skin pores without causing dryness.
- Allantoin helps to soothe and treat your skin relieving irritation; helps cell regeneration.
- Algae extract helps control the production of sebum, preventing breakouts and other blemishes.
- Grape seed extract vitamin C has antioxidant properties that shield your skin from free radical damage.
- Glycerin helps to treat oily skin problems including acne, pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads for clearer and smoother skin.
- Excessive use of a product with witch hazel can cause an allergic reaction resulting in irritated skin. Check if you are allergic to this ingredient.
- Glycerin may make your oily skin greasier.
10. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Facial Toner
The La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Facial Toner contains 0.5% salicylic acid that helps minimize mild imperfections including stubborn breakouts. It has 2% glycolic acid that helps remove pore-clogging dirt and smoothes uneven skin texture. This is an excellent addition to oily, combination, or acne-prone skin skincare routine. For every use of this facial toner, it helps remove excess oil and impurities, leaving your skin feeling refreshed.
- Helps remove excess oil and other skin impurities while unclogging pores.
- Best for individuals with acne, uneven tone, and rough skin texture.
- Oil-free, paraben-free, fragrance-free
- Individuals with combination skin type may feel dryness on the skin.
- Contains alcohol that may harm your acne-prone skin.
11. Alba Botanica Acnedote, Deep Clean Astringent
The Alba Botanica Acnedote Deep Clean Astringent is a cooling, natural, and botanically-effective with 2% salicylic acid from willow bark extract helps clean, treat, and prevent acne. It also contains licorice and lentil extract for neutralizing acne-causing bacteria. Its organic aloe and organic chamomile help soothe and relieve irritated or inflamed skin. This deep clean astringent suits best individuals with oily and combination skin types.
- Contains natural ingredients from various botanical plants like lavender, willow extracts, licorice, Matricaria, and rhizome.
- Gently cleans with long lasting effect treating skin problems including cystic acne, psoriasis, and rosacea.
- Paraben-free, oil-free, without phthalates or synthetic scents
- Dermatologist-tested, non-comedogenic
- Reasonable price
- Contains a small amount of alcohol and has pore-shrinking effect when it is mixed with other ingredients that may dry out the skin.
- May accelerate hyperpigmentation on the skin if you have sensitive skin type.
- Its naturally-derived botanical scent may be unpleasant or stingy to some.
12. Yeouth Facial Toner, Hydrating Face Toner
Yeouth Facial Toner, Hydrating Face Toner contains all the essential ingredients that help to make your skin look and feel young. This face toner suits those with combination skin types.
- Contains butylene glycol that serves as a skin conditioning solution that helps regulate and keep your skin hydrated, flushing out toxins or acne-causing bacteria inside.
- Allantoin helps treat and soothe acne-prone skin, giving you clearer skin.
- Also contains chamomile flower extract that has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
- Has alcloxa (mild astringent) and antimicrobial properties of aluminum salt combined with the anti-irritant properties.
- Hypoallergenic as it neutralizes the skin irritants providing you an allergy-free skin.
- For those with very oily skin or very dry skin types, you may not be able to achieve the desired results, making your skin look oilier.
- Has derivatives of alcohol that may harm the skin of those with extremely sensitive skin types.
- Requires a moisturizer for better results.
13. Neutrogena Clear Pore Oil-Eliminating Astringent
This Neutrogena Clear Pore Oil-Eliminating Astringent helps treat and prevent future breakouts and blackheads. This astringent is gentle to apply in the morning, noon, and night as it will not over-dry or irritate the skin. It contains the maximum strength of salicylic acid that helps penetrate your pores to remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup that can cause breakouts. The product suits best those with oily skin types.
- Aside from salicylic acid, it also contains witch hazel extract that helps regulate the production of oil on your face and helps soothe redness and irritation of your skin.
- Butylene glycol serves as a conditioning solution, keeping your skin even-textured.
- Rich with aloe vera extract that helps clear your complexion, relieve inflammation, and treat post-acne marks.
- Has chamomile extract gives antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
- This astringent may not be good for individuals with oily and sensitive skin types.
- Has 45% denatured alcohol which is not recommended if you have a sensitive skin type.
- With fragrance and can cause an adverse reaction or even slight burns.
14. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Astringent
The La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Astringent is an exfoliating solution for oily skin and acne. It has salicylic acid that helps unclog and tighten pores for clear skin. This astringent goes through tolerance tests which means that you can apply it without the fear of irritation. This helps those with acne, large pores, blackheads, and whiteheads. The product suits best, individuals with oily skin, combination skin, and acne-prone skin types.
- Formulated with LHA (Lipo Hydroxy Acid) that provides micro-exfoliation to help tighten pores for soft and supple skin.
- Contains salicylic acid that helps in treating acne, pimples, and other skin problems.
- Glycerin helps fill your skin pores or rough surfaces of your skin, keeping an even skin texture.
- Glycerin helps hydrate your skin and keep the elasticity of your skin.
- If you have very sensitive skin type, avoid this product because it contains alcohol that can cause burning and blotchiness.
- Some fragrance but if you have very sensitive skin, better avoid this product.
15. Clean & Clear Essentials Deep Cleaning Astringent
This Clean & Clear Essentials Deep Cleaning Astringent contains 2% salicylic acid that helps fight acne and existing pimples and prevent new ones from developing by thoroughly cleaning the skin pores. This oil-free astringent can be used by individuals with any skin types which includes normal, oily, and combination skin.
Dryness and skin irritation can occur if you are using another topical acne treatment simultaneously. If irritation occurs, just use one topical acne treatment one at a time. If the solution gets into your eyes, rinse immediately with water.
- Aside from salicylic acid, this product also contains dimethicone that helps hydrate your skin, keeping its elasticity.
- Flouride-free, sulfate-free, aluminum-free, paraben-free
- Has 41% alcohol that can cause some adverse reaction if you are allergic to it.
- This product may be too harsh for individuals with sensitive skin types.
- With some fragrance that may cause redness on sensitive skin.
16. Exposed Clearing Tonic
Exposed Clearing Tonic is a potent facial toner that neutralizes skin problems after cleansing. It has azelaic that helps prevent acne-causing bacteria and redness while preventing blackheads and whiteheads. Also helps protects the skin all day long. It also contains green tea extract that helps control sebum production and passion flower that helps calms skin irritation and redness. This tonic suits those with oily and combination skin types.
- Salicylic acid and glycolic acid work together to treat acne, fine lines, blackheads, oiliness.
- Natural botanical herbs like tea tree extract, aloe vera, passion flower extract, and sage leaf extract are a great mix that keeps your skin calm.
- Has some fragrance, so if you are allergic to Parfum or if you have sensitive skin type, avoid this product.
- Those with combination or dry skin types may dry the skin; you need a moisturizer after using this product.
17. Life Essentials Ocean Mineral Toner
The Life Essentials Ocean Mineral Toner is formulated to help restore and treat acne and other skin problems, including wrinkles and age spots. The product is rich in seaweed complex for balanced, glowing, moisturized, and nourished skin. The ingredient has anti-radiation properties that help protect skin from everyday and long-term sun damage and aging. This ocean mineral toner helps boost collagen. This formula is recommended for individuals with oily and sensitive skin types.
- Contains rose distillate that helps provide your skin with anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
- Stimulates the skin proteins collagen-elastin to keep the elasticity of your skin, thus reducing wrinkles and fine lines.
- Has witch hazel extract that helps purify and hydrate the skin regulating your skin’s pH.
- Aloe vera and glycerin help accelerate the ability of your skin to absorb moisturizers, serum, and oil which leave low amount settled on your skin minimizing future breakouts.
- Synthetic fragrance-free.
- Gets foamy on combination skin types due to the skin surfactants contained in this product.
Now It’s Your Turn
I hoped you enjoyed my 17 Best Astringents and Toners for Acne-Prone Skin Post.
Now I want to hear from you:
Which of these astringers and toners in this post are you most excited to try?
Are you going to use any of them? Or do you have a suggestion for something that has worked for you?