Astringent has been the talk of the town lately. Devotees swear it can tighten pores, dry out oil, and cleanse your skin. But is astringent really worth the hype? Here’s everything you need to know about this skin care trend and how it compares to toner.

Toners can even out skin tone and remove gunk from the skin’s surface. They work best on sensitive, dry, or combination skin. Not sure of your skin type? When in doubt, tone it out with a gentle product to start.

Popular toner ingredients include:

What’s astringent?

Astringent is pretty similar to toner — they both cleanse skin, fight oil, and tighten pores. Sounds great, right? They have similar concepts, but astringents tend to work better on oily, acne-prone skin. They may also be helpful for combination skin.

Ingredients in an astringent may include:

  • alcohol
  • citric acid
  • salicylic acid
  • witch hazel

While alcohol may be used as an ingredient in an astringent it should be used with caution due to its irritating and drying nature and ability to strip the skin of its oil.

You can chat with a derm to figure out your skin type, but here’s an toner/astringent ingredient user guide based on common skin types:

Oily skinAcne-prone skinCombination skinDry skin
astringent with alcohol (isopropyl)astringent with salicylic acidtoner or astringent with witch hazeltoner with glycerin
astringent with citric acidastringent with glycolic acidastringent with salicylic acid toner with aloe
astringent with witch hazel
astringent with citric acidtoner with lactic acidtoner with sodium lactate

Apply astringent right after you wash your face. Use it once a day, preferably in the morning or evening.

How to apply astringent

  1. Wash your face with a cleanser.
  2. Pat skin dry with a clean towel.
  3. Pour a small amount of astringent on a cotton ball or pad.
  4. Apply directly onto face in a dabbing motion.
  5. Apply your favorite moisturizer and sunscreen after.
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Your skin might feel tight and tingling after application. That’s normal. But if your face feels like it’s under an ant army attack, rinse it off ASAP.

Shrink those pores

Astringent is a brilliant remedy for blackheads. It constricts pores and helps stop the secretion of sebum. Astringent can also remove the dirt and oil that’s stuck deep in your skin.

pH balance

Skin is slightly on the acidic side. Astringent can help promote balanced pH levels. You can try rose water as as astringent to give your skin an even glow. 🌹

Ease inflammation

Witch hazel as an astringent can help reduce inflammation due its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.

Remove excess oil

Astringent absorbs oil like a paper towel on a slice of 🍕. Well, not exactly… but you get the idea. Astringent is awesome for treating oily skin. It creates a drying effect that gives your face a natural matte finish.

Acne alert!

Most astringents contain alcohol (isopropyl) which can dry out zits in a zap. This makes it great for acne-prone complexions. But keep in mind, alcohol can be irritating and dehydrating, so an astringent could make breakouts worse. Be sure to hydrate with an moisturizer after cleansing.

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The most common issue with astringent is that it can dry your skin out. Refrain from using an alcohol-based or chemical astringents if you have:

You should also avoid astringent if you currently have a bad breakout, according to The American Academy of Dermatology. It can make things worse. Stick to a hydrating toner instead.

Protect your skin

Astringent can be drying AF so you should always slay that sunscreen after cleansing to prevent sun damage. Call your dermatologist if you start experiencing breakouts, lingering burning, or peeling.

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If you aren’t sure which toner or astringent works best for your skin, talk to a dermatologist or an esthetician. They can give you some great recs on which astringent will fit your individual needs.

Skin care is a lifelong relationship. You know your skin best. If you want to give astringent a go, start out slow. Try it a few times a week and work your up to daily use. It might take some trial and error to see which astringent works best for you. Glow on, fam.