The 21st Century Herbalist

DIY Skin Care Month: Step 2 – Astringents and Toners

Welcome, Gigglers, to week 3 of DIY Skin Care Month.  Today we’re talking about toners and astringents, and the reasons you should you use them.  Both toners and astringents are water-based solutions that are applied to the skin after cleansing but before moisturizing. They help remove excess oil and perspiration, along with any residue left behind by your cleanser.  They also balance your skin’s pH level while preparing it to better absorb your moisturizer.

Astringent vs. Toner
Astringents are usually stronger than toners, often containing isopropyl alcohol or acetone (yes, the stuff that nail polish remover is made with), which can be drying and harmful to your skin.  Astringents should only be used on oily, combination and normal skin types.  Toners are gentler than astringents and can be used on all skin types but are especially beneficial to those with dry or sensitive skin.  Currently there are not any regulations on the beauty product industry that verify the correct term is being used on a product, so read the ingredients.

Why is skin pH important?
As you may remember from your high school chemistry class, pH (potential hydrogen) is a measure of how much hydrogen something contains.  There is a standard scale that ranges from 0 (the most acidic) to 14 (the most basic) with 7 being neutral.  Healthy, balanced skin usually has a pH between 5 and 6.  Cleansers can leave residue on the skin’s surface and/or strip your skin of it’s natural acid mantle, changing your skin’s pH.  The acid mantle is a protective layer that your skin forms from the secretions of your sweat and oil glands.  This acid mantle and a proper pH prevent your skin from drying out and discourage bacterial penetration (which forms acne and blackheads).  When your skin pH is off, your skin will try to regulate itself by secreting more oil or sweat to the acid mantle…leading to acne, oily skin and even dry skin.  Toners and astringents reduce the likelihood of this by restoring your skin’s proper pH level.

DIY All-Natural and Gentle Skin Toners
There are so many toners on the market today but if you’re looking for a quick and cheap toner that is all-natural and effective, give one of the toners below a try.  This is just a small list of the many choices available.  If you have a favorite toner that you use, share it in the comments, along with your skin type because I always like to hear about what’s working for others!

To use any of the above toners, apply them to freshly cleaned skin using a soft cotton ball or pad.  Allow the toner to dry and follow with your favorite moisturizer.  If you prefer to skip the cotton, you can put the toner into a reusable spray bottle with a fine mist spray nozzle.  Spray your skin and allow to dry before applying your moisturizer.
That’s it for this week and as always, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you!

Next Week: DIY Skin Care Month – Step 3: Moisturizer

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