Difference between a Toner and an Astringent

By: | Updated: Dec-6, 2017

At the end of the day, it is important to cleanse your face of oil, dirt, and makeup. But washing your face with water and facial cleanser may not be enough to effectively get rid of unwanted elements. This is where toners and astringents play a part in facial care. These two products provide that extra cleansing step to remove stubborn oils and dirt. Some people, though, think that a toner and an astringent are the same. This is definitely not true. As you read this article, you’ll discover the aspects that set these two products apart.

Summary Table

Toner Astringent
Water-based and generally alcohol-free; contains glycerin or some form of glycolAlcohol-based
Best for dry or sensitive skin or a combination of these typesBest for oily or acne-prone skin or a combination of these types
Very mildPotent and can cause drying or skin irritation
Can be used several times a dayOnce to twice daily maximum application
Removes residue and provides a refreshing feelingCan reduce oil on the skin; gives a tightening and tingling feeling


A facial toner
A facial toner

A toner is a water-based facial cleansing product. It is frequently used as an added step in facial cleansing to remove stubborn dirt and makeup. This type of product often consists of ingredients such as glycerine or glycol and antioxidants like niacinamide. The glycol helps soothe the skin and balance the pH level. It also helps draw water into the skin to nourish and hydrate it. This makes toners a good option for people with normal or dry skin. Moreover, the niacinamide found in certain toners is a type of Vitamin B. This help repair skin cells and is good for those with sensitive skin. There are also certain types of toners which contain natural ingredients such as rose water, cucumber extracts, and witch hazel. These ingredients provide aromatherapeutic benefits and a cooling effect which can calm irritated skin.

Toners do not have any alcohol content and are less invasive. The mild property of toners makes them a good product to use several times a day. Gentle toner solutions are used as a cleansing agent for those with problematic skin types such as eczema or dermatitis. The natural witch hazel ingredient can also cleanse minor skin wounds and address problems related to skin inflammation. Toners also act as a preparatory agent as it primes the skin before the application of moisturizers or other ointments. The toner enables the emollients to penetrate deep into the skin for optimum effectiveness.

An astringent
An astringent

An astringent is an alcohol-based facial cleansing product. The alcohols used in astringents can either be isopropyl alcohol or the more natural alcohol from certain botanical sources. Astringents are effective in removing deep-seated dirt and oils. They penetrate into the skin and remove the skin’s natural oils while cleaning. When applied, astringents leave a tightening feel on the surface of the skin.

Due to its alcohol content, an astringent also has anti-bacterial properties, making it an effective product to use when experiencing pimples or acne breakouts. Since an astringent is potent and has invasive qualities, it has a tendency to dry the skin. It can lower the skin’s acid mantle and affect the pH balance. Hence, an astringent has a maximum recommended usage of one to two times daily. Application of an astringent is usually done after facial cleansing and is best used by people with oily skin.

Toner vs Astringent

What is the difference between a toner and an astringent? Toners are usually water-based while astringents are often alcohol-based. Since toners are milder, they are best for dry and sensitive skin compared to the more potent astringents, which are best for oily and acne-prone skin. One cannot overdose on toners but with astringents, the maximum recommended application is twice a day. Astringents also have a tendency to cause drying and skin irritation for some people. Toners remove makeup and dirt residue and provide an overall refreshing feeling. Astringents, on the other hand, reduce excess oil and leave a tightening and tingling feeling when applied to the skin.

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