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Toner astringents tighten skin pores, reduce oiliness and wash away dirt as well as soap and cleanser residue. Different types of toner astringents are best for different skin types. Toner astringents are made with alcohol or another astringent, such as witch hazel. The ratio of alcohol to water makes a difference — for oily skin, a high alcohol percentage is best, while people with dry skin should use one with low or no alcohol content.
An astringent is any liquid or gel that causes the tissues in the skin to contract. It is used for wound healing and for improved skin tone and appearance. Tight, healthy pores are also less likely to absorb dirt particles and other irritants.
Alcohol is the main base for many toner astringent products, but some natural product lines use witch hazel instead. Witch hazel is a natural substance distilled from the bark of witch hazel trees. It is less harsh than alcohol while still having all the astringent properties. Witch hazel can also help stimulate healing.
For dry skin, it is best to use a toner astringent with 10% alcohol or less. Normal or medium skin can benefit from a toner containing 20 to 30% alcohol. For oily skin a toner astringent containing up to 60% alcohol is suitable.
Witch hazel and witch hazel-based toners can be used on all skin types, as long as it does not contain alcohol. Many less expensive witch hazel products include alcohol as an inexpensive preservative. Another natural toner astringent is apple cider vinegar, but it should be diluted and added to witch hazel or an alcohol-based toner to reduce the strong vinegar odor.
Natural toners often contain a mix of distilled plant material as well, including rosemary, rose, cucumber, and aloe. Plants are chosen based on their healing and skin-rejuvenating properties. Cucumber and aloe are both well suited for dry and sensitive skin. Rosemary and lavender are stronger and better suited for younger or oily skin. Distilled rose water and orange flower water have gentle astringent properties.
Most toner astringent products are water-based liquids meant to be applied to the skin after using soap or cleanser and before moisturizing, but lotion toner astringents are also available. A lotion toner astringent is best suited for oily or acne prone skin. It can be used after a cleanser, along with a water-based toner or alone.