The two products are in fact very similar. They both refine/tighten pores and help remove excess oil, dirt, makeup, and residue. There are a few slight differences though:
Astringents often have antiseptic properties that help clean bacteria from skin's surface and unclogs pores. In addition, they generally have an alcohol content that mattifies oil. Thus, astringents are ideal for younger women, oily skin types, and blemish-prone skin. Natural astringents include witch hazel and cucumber.
- Mario Badescu Special Cucumber Lotion ($15 at Ulta) for acne-prone skin. It uses natural cucumber and the acne-fighting ingredient, sulfur, to remove bacteria and dirt deep within pores without irritating skin.
- Thayers Original Witch Hazel With Organic Aloe Vera Formula Astringent ($8 on drugstore.com) is a natural witch hazel with moisturizing aloe to prevent over-drying. A great way to instantly calm and clean your complexion! I especially like the refreshing cooling effect.
- Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($18 at Sephora) for mature skin. Like all Caudalie products, this elixir has grapes for powerful antioxidant protection against aging. With nourishing essential oils, it is a part toner, part serum that leaves skin feeling moisturized.
- Origins United State Balancing Tonic for combination skin. This product keeps the skin's pH balance in check...reducing excess shine in the T-zone and softening dry areas of the face.
- Murad Hydrating Toner ($27 at Sephora) for dry skin. The toner helps restore hydration to the skin with lecithin to keep skin supple. And vitamins C and E provide antioxidant protection.
- Korres Pomegranate Toner ($20 at Sephora) for normal skin. Pomegranate extract is a natural nutrient-rich ingredient that will condition and rejuvenate your skin to reveal a radiant glow.
- Avene Gentle Toner ($20 on dermstore.com) for sensitive skin is formulated with softening and soothing spring water. This toner is hypoallergenic and so gentle that it is suitable for even the most sensitive skin types.
Should you be using a toner or astringent? Yes! Most toners and astringents say to use them day and night. You should definitely be using one at night after cleansing and before treatments and moisturizers to clean up anything your cleanser may have left behind. Also, tightening your pores will keep dirt and toxins out as well as make your complexion look and feel smooth and refreshed. I like to use a cotton ball to help sweep away residue and toxins from my skin, but you can totally spritz toner/astringent if you prefer (though it may not clean your skin as thoroughly). Whether or not you use it in the morning is up to you...it's not as big of a deal if you don't because it's not as essential for your skin to be squeaky clean. Using an astringent in the morning will help reduce oil during the day if you tend to get shiny. And tightening your pores in the morning can improve the appearance of your skin throughout the day. Personally, I use a moisturizing toner in the mornings more for its smoothing and softening effects so that my makeup holds better during the day.
Do you use a toner or an astringent?