The CTM (cleansing-toning-moisturising) method of skincare is what dermats everywhere recommend and rightly so. While a lot of us are aware of the multifold benefits of this method, most skip the ‘toning’ part of the ritual and replace it with an oil or a mist. I personally have relied on toning, not as an add-on, but as an essential step in my skincare. I have acne-prone skin and need a helping hand to control the oiliness.

Having said that, I did tweak the toning step a little and replaced it with an astringent. A lot of you must've used astringents at least once in your life; they are actually the OG toners and a staple in our moms’ vanities.

But what exactly is the difference between an astringent and a toner? Are they both “pretty much the same thing”? While many beauty enthusiasts seem to think so, we found out that they are in fact different and should be used cautiously.


What is an astringent?

What is an astringent

Similar to toners, astringents are water-based products that are used after facial cleansing to treat issues like oiliness and irritation. They also strip off any dirt and debris that your cleanser might have missed. While both astringents and toners serve similar purposes, astringents are alcohol-based and land up drying out the skin to treat excess oil.

On the other hand, toners are gentler and help remove makeup, sweat and oil; but without over-drying your skin. They also contain hydrating agents that help moisten the skin’s top layer, while deep cleaning the pores.


Astringent vs toner: What is best for your skin type?

Astringent vs toner

Even though toners and astringents might seem the same on the surface, they should be used according to your skin type.

  • Sensitive, Dry and Normal skin: If you have sensitive, dry or normal skin, toners are your ideal purchase. They are milder and being glycerin/glycolic-based, help retain water in the skin cells while controlling sebum production.
  • Oily and Combination skin: Because of the excess oil production, some people prefer to rely on astringents as they work wonders for combination, oily and acne-prone skin. However, the alcohol content in them should be a deterrent. It could severely dry out the skin and damage it in the long run. Therefore, if you have oily or combination skin, a toner is still your best bet. If you must use an astringent, opt for a natural one like witch hazel or apple cider vinegar, but be cautious.

Regardless of what you choose, an astringent or toner should only be used in your routine once a day. They can be responsible for making your skin sunlight sensitive; so always follow it up with an SPF.