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What Is An Astringent (& is it good for my skin)?

What Is An Astringent (& is it good for my skin)?

As you read through the product pages of our website you might start to notice we sometimes use the word “astringent”. But what is it? What does it mean? And should I be using one in my skincare ritual? Allow me to answer those questions for you…

What does astringent mean?

Astringent actually has two meanings, or two ways of using the word – it can be an adjective, or it can be a noun…

Adjective: causing the contraction of skin cells and other body tissues.

Noun: an lotion applied to the skin to reduce bleeding from minor abrasions or as a cosmetic to make the skin less oily.

So, as I’m sure you’ve already realised, an astringent is a product which helps to reduce the oiliness of the skin, or an ingredient which has astringent properties. But it goes further than that. Here we need to bring another skincare product into the conversation: the toner or tonic.

What's the difference between a toner and an astringent?

In general terms, and here I’m talking about the mass-produced commercial toners and astringents available on the High Street, this is the difference…

Toner: a water-based solution (generally alcohol-free) works to keep the moisture in the upper layers of the skin to prevent skin dehydration.

Astringent: a water-based solution that, when applied to the skin, works to shrink or constrict the skin. It is a stronger form of a toner and most commercial astringents are formulated with SD Alcohol or Denatured Alcohol which gives the skin a tight feeling. This tight feeling is a sign of dehydration and not a sign of clean skin, as many think.

However, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are natural astringent alternatives which can give you the oil-reducing, skin-tightening effects which are very beneficial, especially to those with oily skin.

What's the alternative?

I would only recommend astringents to those with oily skin, or in some cases to those with combination skin. Even the natural alternatives can have a drying effect on skin because the work by reducing the natural oil within the skin.

What are these ingredients I speak of? Natural astringents include : Witch hazel, cedarwood, lemon, juniper, lime, patchouli, geranium, rosemary… the list goes on. Some of these ingredients can be found in our Regain Your Balance Harmonising Facial Collection which has been specifically formulated to help balance combination and oily skin types.

What are the benefits of astringent ingredients?

Because we use astringent ingredients only as a part of a product formulation rather than as the majority of a formulation, our products offer gentle astringent action without being too strong or harsh, and without overly drying the skin.

These are some of the benefits of that gentle astringent action…

  • removes excess oil from the skin surface
  • reduces inflammation
  • minimises pores and contracts body tissues

And, of course, if you’re using a natural astringent then you’ll get all of the additional benefits that ingredient offers, as well.