I find that many people confuse Toners with Astringents. While they may look similar they are actually very different in formulation and usage. Let's look, first, at what an astringent is and what it does on the skin.
We all remember "Sea Breeze", right? As a teenager I remember seeing those giant bottles of blue and amber liquid at my local drugstore or seeing the adds in my latest addition of "17" magazine and wondering, "should I be using that?". I mean the girls in the ads always touted clear, glowing skin, so I must need it to get the same result. Never mind that my skin was fairly dry as a teen and I didn't have a mass of oil pooling on it by mid day. I remember cracking open the top and the very strong aroma of eucalyptus, camphor and alcohol hitting my nostrils and thinking "it smells clean and strong, so it must be great for getting rid of those pesky pimples!". I doused a cotton ball in the magical solution and swiped it across my face, marveling at the discoloration of dirt and oil left behind on the cotton. "It works!" I marveled. And then the irritating cooling effect set in and, as the solution evaporated, my skin felt like it was left for a week in the sun in the Sahara. Definitely not the feeling I had assumed I would be left with based on the promises on the bottle and in the ads.
The reason for this tight, tingly feeling is that many astringents contain ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, camphor, etc. which can be over-drying and disrupt the acid mantle of the skin, causing irritation and sensitivities that could actually make breakouts worse! On the wrong skin type (like my dry, non-oily skin), the result is most definitely not fresh and clear.
So you are probably thinking, "then astringents are fine for my super oily, acne-prone skin, right?". Stop! Put down the cotton ball and back away. While, the occasional use of an alcohol or witch hazel based astringent may be beneficial for killing bacteria and controlling oil, over-use can lead to the same problems stated above. If you want to try an astringent for oily skin, make sure that it is balanced with hydrating and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as our Pore Purifying Astringent, and make sure to monitor your skin for signs of over-drying.
This brings us to:
Toners - The astringent's, kinder, gentler cousin
I. LOVE. TONERS!
If you have ever had a facial with me you know how much I love the benefits of a good toner. I have found that many of people's problems or concerns can be addressed with the proper toner.
- Your serum not absorbing well? Mist your face with a toner and massage
- Your makeup looking too powdery? Spritz on some toner to give you back that glow
- Feeling dry during the day? Add your toner in between your product application to help them hold on to more moisture or spritz on your skin throughout the day for an instant refresh!
Toners, unlike astringents, are meant to add to your skin and not strip anything away. They usually contain hydrating ingredients, antioxidants or other ingredients to help balance your skin, making it less vulnerable to pollutants, irritants, to keep your skin looking fresh and healthy. I find them especially helpful in the winter and during seasonal transitions, when skin is still adapting and needs a little extra TLC. Toners are also great if you travel, to help keep your skin hydrated and balanced on airplanes or in different climates.
Basically, while astringents have a very narrow set of parameters for use, Toners are beneficial for pretty much every skin type. They are formulated to easily absorb into the skin and can even help your other products to perform more effectively! Water binding ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, perform better in a humid environments. If the air after application is too dry these ingredients can actually pull moisture from the skin. Adding a hydrating mist after you apply will help these ingredients to pull the moisture into the skin instead of out!
Ready to try a refreshing mist for your skin?
Check out our selection of Toners HERE