A Guide to Toners, Essences, and Astringents

We all know how overwhelming and ever-changing the skincare world can be. What once used to be a simple 3 step routine has evolved into a 10 step routine (or at least somewhere around there lol), and toner has become an important part of our daily regiments. 

From old-school astringents to new toners to K-beauty essences, there are multiple options to follow up your cleanser with. But which solution is best for your skin? Here, we go over the differences and which one you should be using?

Toners vs Astringents vs Essences

Think of these products as friends with all different personalities. Toners are the friend that likes to avoid conflict and be neutral. A toner’s main purpose is to balance the skin’s pH, after cleansing it. Balancing your skin’s pH is especially important in protecting against external influences like bacteria, allergens and pollution, while maintaining moisture. Having a balanced pH allows your skin to cycle properly and absorb your other products more efficiently. Seemingly inconspicuous things can distribute your skin’s balance such as our very own cleanser, environmental factors, laundry detergent, and much more! So a toner is imperative in a skincare routine! 

Astringents are the friends that start a lot of fights. Astringents are either alcohol-based or made with witch hazel (most of the time alcohol). Astringents are beneficial in temporarily absorbing excess oil, however after long periods of use, an astringent could dry out your skin and cause more harm than good. If you ask us, we almost always don’t recommend an astringent. A helpful little tip, a lot of astringents get labeled as a toner, so be sure to check the ingredients and make sure no bad alcohols are at the top of the list. 

Lastly, essence is the friend who everyone seems to adore. Essence is for those who really want to drive into hydration. Essence originated from the Korean beauty industry and unlike toner essentially works as a primer for your moisturizer. In addition, essences is usually combined with other skin-loving ingredients to give you an extra boost. 

When and Who Should be using these Products?

Everyone should be using either a toner, essence, or astringent. But the question is which one? Since toners are slightly acidic to bring your skins pH level back up to were it should be (about 5.5) to best to apply one right away you wash your face with the fresh tap water. 

If you are someone with oily or congested skin, then an astringent might be just what your skin needs. But remember, we only recommend astringents like LHA Toner from Skin Ceuticles, not witch hazel. LHA has glycolic and salicylic acids to help decongest pores without the harshness of an alcohol. Not only this, but there are also other option for oily congested skin such as monthly facials and cleansers with a high concentration of acids. 

Dry and flaky skin should opt for an essence. We suggest looking for ones that contain humectants or other hydrating ingredients, like glycerin, algae, or hyaluronic acid. Whily in Korean 10-step skincare regiment, they use an essence after a toner, it is completely okay to only use an essence. 

How Should you Use These Products?

Toners and Astringents are typically used with small cotton round because you are essentially removing residue from the face. As with essences, they are applied a little differently. Since the goal is of an essence is to add moisture, its recommended to put some in the palm of your hand and pat into your hand. 

Regardless of which “holy water” you choose, these products can give you some serious results and are something to considering adding to your routine. 

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