Organic Beauty Series: Part Two – Toners & Astringents

Organic Beauty Series
Part One – Cleansers
Part Three – Moisturizers
Part Four – Tips & Treatments

Toners and astringents further cleanse and hydrate the skin.  Cleansing with warm/hot water opens your pores; the cooling action of toners and astringents closes them again.

The difference between a toner and an astringent is the amount of alcohol in the solution.  There are three main types of toners and astringents:
fresheners contain the least amount of alcohol (0-10%) and a humectant (a substance which helps to retain moisture) and are gentlest on the skin. They are best for dry-to-normal and sensitive skin. Rosewater is a good example of a skin freshener.
tonics contain a small amount of alcohol (10- 20%) and a humectant and are suitable for normal-to-oily skin. Orange flower water is a skin tonic.
astringents contain the highest amounts of alcohol (20-60%), as well as a humectant, and antiseptic ingredients to fight bacteria. They are suitable for oily skins only as they have a drying effect.

– – – – –

The main products to have on hand at home for toning the skin include witchazel, rosewater and/or orange blossom water, cucumber, apple cider vinegar, and mint.

You can elevate your beauty regime with other botanicals including chamomile, lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, or calendula – to name a few – but the following are simple ingredients that are easy to work with:

Witchazel is a very effective beauty remedy. It’s anti-inflammatory properties make it great for treating acne-prone and irritated skin – including freshly-shaved skin to avoid irritation bumps. It also treats dry skin by helping skin to retain moisture while not adding any oils to the skin, making it a good choice for those with acne-prone or combination skin types. It is safe to use on sensitive skin in most cases, but test a small patch first if you are concerned about a reaction.

Rosewater and orange blossom water are extracted from chemical-free rose petals or bitter-orange blossoms using distilled water. They contain the oils and humectants of the flower used to make them. While both soothe skin, help to dissolve dirt, and tighten pores, each has a unique effect. Rosewater is known for its moisturizing and anti-aging properties, while orange blossom water is known to be effective in managing oily and acne-prone skins.

Cucumber is a wonderful facial refresher. Whether you use it freshly sliced or extract the juice, it is very brightening and safe for even the most sensitive skin types.

As a woman with combination-oily skin that is prone to cystic acne, I find astringents with high amounts of alcohol to be too drying to the skin. For those who wish to control oil and acne, a combination of apple cider vinegar and mint is a good choice. The acetic acid of the vinegar replaces the alcohol of traditional astringents. By mixing 2 tsp. of freshly chopped mint with 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar and letting this mixture sit in a glass jar, covered, at room temperature for about a week, the mint will infuse its lovely scent and surprising beauty benefits. These benefits include anti-inflammatory and anti-pruritic properties.

Recommended products based on skin type:

OILY SKIN
– witchazel
– orange blossom water
– mint & apple cider vinegar toner
– cucumber

COMBINATION SKIN
– witchazel
– orange blossom water
– mint & apple cider vinegar toner
– cucumber

SENSITIVE SKIN
– witchazel
– cucumber
– rosewater

DRY SKIN
– witchazel
– rosewater
– cucumber

AGING SKIN
– witchazel
– rosewater
– cucumber

** Note: Thayers makes a very good witchazel, and also offers several different kinds mixed with rose oils, lavender oils, or even lemon balm oils. These make a great, easy toner for all skin types. **

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