Ask a Dermatologist: Ought to I Be Utilizing Toner or Astringent?


laneige cream skin toner

Whether or not your skincare routine includes a number of merchandise, steps, and layers, or in the event you’re extra of the wash-SPF-and-go kind, you’ve seemingly, on the very least, heard of astringent and toner. Each utilized as staples in lots of skincare regimens, the 2 are sometimes confused for one another, however realistically, they’re truly fairly completely different. Within the astringent vs toner debate, your best option will differ from individual to individual, and can largely rely upon your pores and skin kind, pores and skin issues, and your skincare objectives.

That can assist you work out what often is the proper product for you, we reached out to 2 dermatologists to seek out out the variations and similarities between astringent and toner, together with the best methods to make use of every.

What Is Toner?

Toners are skincare merchandise which might be usually just like the consistency of water, used to nourish and replenish pores and skin as a second step after cleaning. Initially, toners had been created to take away extra oil from the pores and skin to assist deal with zits. However as of 2022, most toners are alcohol-free and work to assuage, brighten, and take away any extra particles you may need missed throughout cleaning. Some formulation declare to assist your pores and skin better-absorb serums and moisturizers that you just apply post-tone (these are normally marketed as essences), whereas others intend to return your pores and skin to a traditional pH degree (an off-balance pH may cause zits).

  • Water-based product used as a second step after cleaning
  • Removes particles your cleanser may need missed
  • Replenishes, nourishes, and brightens the pores and skin (relying upon substances used)
  • Could assist serums and moisturizers higher penetrate the pores and skin
  • Most formulation are alcohol-free

What Is Astringent?

Like toners, astringents are a water-based product used as a second step after cleaning to take away particles your cleanser may need missed (or residue out of your face wash itself). Nonetheless, just like the toners of the previous, astringents are particularly formulated to take away extra oil from the pores and skin and usually include alcohol to attain this aim.

  • Water-based product used as a second step after cleaning
  • Removes particles your cleanser may need missed
  • Removes extra oil from the pores and skin
  • Often accommodates alcohol

How Is Toner Totally different From Astringent?

“On the whole, each toners and astringents are designed to handle key points on the pores and skin floor, resembling oiliness and irritation,” says Dr. Shamban. Toners and astringents are additionally each utilized as a second step post-cleanse (though you should not apply each astringent and toner). “Every product could be used after a standard cleanser however earlier than the superior therapy step in your routine,” Shamban provides.

Whereas toners and astringents do have a few issues in frequent, basically, they’re fairly completely different. Usually, astringents supply a drying impact to the pores and skin, which can be finest left for treating acne-prone complexions. “Astringents are usually alcohol-based liquids created to assist dry out extra oil, cut back zits, and cleanse the pores and skin,” says Dr. Farber. “They are often drying, nonetheless, and if used within the unsuitable setting, could make pores and skin extra irritated or flare up delicate pores and skin.”

Toners, then again, can supply the identical surface-level cleansing impact, however with a little bit of a gentler, restorative contact because of their, largely, water-based formulation. “Toners by and huge take away extra traces of oil, make-up, perspiration and particles, which incorporates the highest layer of lifeless pores and skin cells. They usually include hydrating substances, making them much less drying and harsh than astringents,” Farber explains. Widespread hydrators present in toners embrace rose water, flower essence, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin.


Rose water is created by steaming rose petals in water. It has a large number of advantages like soothing razor burn, hydrating your pores and skin, and balancing pores and skin pH.

Which One Is Proper For You?

Very hardly ever would a dermatologist suggest utilizing toner and astringent. Relying in your pores and skin kind and wishes, one or the opposite is finest fitted to you.

Delicate, Dry, Mature, or Regular Pores and skin

Toner. With regards to delicate, regular, dry, or mature pores and skin sorts, toner is the way in which to go for its light properties and lowered threat of irritation. “Usually, toner is a milder, gentler product,” says Shamban. “The toners of as we speak additionally usually include glycolics or glycerins, which assist hold water within the pores and skin cells and soothe the pores and skin whereas limiting the overproduction of sebum.”

Her high toners proper now? “The Instytutum Glow Toner delivers what it guarantees. What makes it exceptionally efficient is it gives a light-weight exfoliation and floor refining mixed with pore tightening and a hydrating impact,” she says.

Moreover, the cult basic, Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, is one other fave, as is The Abnormal Glycolic Acid 7% Firming Lotion, which Shamban explains is a superb alternative for nearly any pores and skin kind because it’s free from alcohol and sulfates, and guarantees to go away pores and skin wanting wholesome and even.

glow recipe toner
Glow Recipe PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner $34.00
biologique recherche lotion p50
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970 $32.00
the ordinary glycolic acid toning solution
The Abnormal Glycolic Acid Firming Answer $10.00

Oily, Mixture, and Zits-Inclined Pores and skin

Astringent. “Astringent is extra drying than toner, so it’s higher for shiny or zits susceptible pores and skin if it’s included in a routine,” says Farber. Whereas some are weary of alcohol, it may be useful when added to some skincare routines for its skill to wash the pores and skin’s floor and rid the pores and skin of micro organism. If you happen to’re trying to take pleasure in the advantages of an astringent however fear about overdrying, you possibly can search out an alcohol-free astringent. Witch hazel is a pure astringent that’s identified for being light on the pores and skin, as are apple cider vinegar, inexperienced tea, and different substances wealthy in tannin, a naturally-occurring astringent.

neutrogena clear pore oil eliminating astringent
Neutrogena Clear Pore Oil-Eliminating Astringent $5.00
clean and clear deep cleaning astringent
Clear & Clear Deep Cleansing Astringent $7.00
sea breeze astringent
Sea Breeze Astringent $4.00

Dermatologist-Permitted Utility Ideas

The most secure strategy to implement both product into your routine is so as to add it to your skincare routine both morning or night, however not each (a minimum of to begin). Some toners and astringents embrace chemical exfoliants which may trigger daylight sensitivity, like glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Merchandise that characteristic substances like these must be utilized at evening, adopted by SPF within the morning for added safety. Each toners and astringents are normally utilized as a second step after cleaning, by pouring a small quantity onto a cotton pad and both swiping it throughout or dabbing it onto the pores and skin. In case your toner or astringent is packaged as a mist, spray, or gel, apply it to wash pores and skin and permit it to dry and sink in for a minute earlier than following up with the subsequent step in your skincare routine.


Take a notice from our Editorial Director, Elspeth Velten and apply your toner or astringent on to your pores and skin out of your fingers. This reduces cotton pad use so you possibly can self-care extra sustainably.


To get one of the best outcomes out of your toner or astringent, you’ll must hold two issues in thoughts: the order and frequency by which you apply your product. Both must be utilized after you cleanse and earlier than you progress on to your further skincare steps. “For many sufferers, a toner, particularly one with a hydrating or moisture-binding impact, can be utilized each day within the type of a liquid, serum or essence after cleaning to make sure that the whole layer is ready to obtain the subsequent degree therapy merchandise. For probably the most half, you can’t overuse your toner,” says Shamban. “You may overdo astringents, as a result of they will cut back the acid mantle and disrupt the pH steadiness, in addition to induce extra oil manufacturing resulting from over-drying, so monitoring utilization and ensuing pores and skin results is essential.”

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