Astringent vs. Toner: Which One Should You Choose?

Astringent vs. Toner Which One Should You Choose

The basic step of the skincare regime, the CTM, includes Cleanser, Toner, and Moisturizer. While most people make informed choices before choosing cleansers and moisturizers, little effort goes into picking the right toner. Also, it is often confused with astringent. 

Therefore, it is essential to know how toners and astringents work. Even though most of their functions are the same, that is, removing the irritants and improving the skin tone, still they differ in a lot of things.

This article will compare astringent vs. toner, explore their benefits and side effects, and help you understand which one is right for your skin type. 

Difference Between Astringent and Toner



Astringents are liquid-based skincare products that clean the skin, dry out excess oil, and tighten the pores. You can find rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) as an active ingredient in most of the astringents. 

Besides, it may also contain beneficial ingredients such as citric acid, salicylic acid, and witch hazel that address different skin issues, most commonly acne

Additional Benefits

  • Reduces skin inflammation  
  • Unclog pores
  • Reduces the appearance of pores 
  • Tightens skin 

People with sensitive and dry skin should not use alcohol-based astringents as they can irritate their skin further and make it drier. 



Toner is also a liquid-based skincare product that cleans the skin while hydrating and nourishing it at the same time. Additionally, it balances the skin’s pH. 

Toners could be alcohol-based or water-based. They also contain ingredients such as glycerine that helps to nourish the skin. You can also find toners that intend to brighten the skin and improve its texture. Such toners may contain herbal extracts, floral extracts, antioxidants, lactic acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, etc. 

They address multiple issues of the skin and ensure it radiates after every application. 

Additional Benefits

  • It can be used to remove makeup 
  • Provides nutrients to the skin
  • Smoothes skin and reduces redness 
  • Boost absorption of the following skincare products, such as moisturizer or sunscreen 

While astringents, especially alcohol-based, are a big no for dry and sensitive skin, toners can be applied to them. Make sure they do not contain any traces of alcohol.  

Below is the table that differentiates astringent and toner under different heads for better understanding-

PurposeTypically used to tighten pores andPrimarily used to balance the skin’s pH
remove excess oil and impuritieslevels and provide hydration
Key IngredientsAlcohol-based compounds, witch hazel,Water-based formulas, herbal extracts,
salicylic acid, glycolic acidhyaluronic acid, glycerin
Skin TypeSuitable for oily and acne-prone skinSuitable for all skin types
CompatibilityMay be too harsh for dry or sensitive skinBeneficial for sensitive or dry skin types
Usage FrequencyTypically used sparingly, often as partCan be used daily, morning and night, or
of a targeted skincare routineas needed depending on skin condition
TextureGenerally liquid-based, can feelLightweight and water-like, easily
astringent or slightly harsh on the skinabsorbed without leaving residue
BenefitsHelps to minimize pores, control excessRestores skin’s pH balance, removes
oil production, and prevent breakoutstraces of cleanser, refreshes skin
Potential RisksMay cause dryness, irritation, orMinimal risk of irritation if formulated
stripping of natural oilsfor sensitive skin; some formulations
may contain alcohol which can be drying

Astringent Vs Toner- How to Use

To reap maximum benefits, it is essential to know the right ways to use astringent and toner. Below are the steps involved-

  • Take a cleanser that suits your skin and wash your face thoroughly 
  • Pat dry with a clean towel
  • Pour a few drops of astringent on the palm and apply it evenly on the face with a cotton ball, pad, or fingers
  • Dab it properly to the skin 
  • Follow up with moisturizer and sunscreen 

The same steps are followed for toners also, other than you don’t need to dry your face with a towel before its application. Using toners on a damp face increases its impact. 

Astringent Vs Toner- Side Effects

Some people may experience slight tightness and tingling sensation on the skin after using astringent. Most of the time, it usually resolves after a few minutes. However, if the skin feels irritated and becomes hot and red, wash your face immediately and discontinue the use of astringent. 

Also, if astringent is making your skin over-dry, leading to peeling or redness, the product is not for you. You should also avoid it in open sores and sunburned areas. 

Toners are usually gentle on the skin, but overuse can cause skin irritation. Redness, patches of dry skin, and inflammation are some common side effects of toners. 

Astringent Vs Toner- What’s Right for Me?

The two factors that determine what’s right for you between astringent and toner are your skin type and the ingredients in the products. 

Since astringents are usually alcohol-based, they tend to be harsh on dry and sensitive skin. If the concentration of certain ingredients is higher, astringents can also irritate normal skin. However, those who have oily skin can go for astringents as they will dry out the excess oil.  

On the contrary, toners are gentle and are suitable for all skin types. Also, they have skin-hydrating and nourishing ingredients that can make skin healthier. 

You can look for the following ingredients in your astringent or toner when you have specific skin types such as

  • Oily skin- Citric acid and witch hazel
  • Acne-prone skin- Salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, and citric acid
  • Dry skin- Glycerine, glycol, hyaluronic acid 
  • Combination skin- Witch hazel, salicylic acid, and lactic acid
  • Sensitive skin- Alcohol-free and fragrance-free


Astringents and toners may look similar in terms of their appearance and functionality, but they can do different things on your face. While one will clear the excess oil from the skin, the other will deliver hydration and nourishment. 

Make sure you read all the ingredients before buying one and pick them based on your skin type for maximum benefits. 

Image Source : canva

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