Astringent, Toner, Lotion, Hydrosol, Refresher, Water….Oh My! What Is The Difference?

So many products!!!!

                                            What are they!!!!

                                                                                What do they do????


The substance is a chemical compound that tends to shrink or constrict body tissues, usually locally after topical medicinal application. The word “astringent” derives from Latin adstringere, meaning “to bind fast”. Two common examples are calamine lotion and witch hazel.

Externally applied astringents, some cause mild coagulation of skin proteins, dry, harden, and protect the skin.People with acne are often advised to use astringents if they have oily skin. Mild astringent solutions are used in the relief of such minor skin irritations as those resulting from superficial cuts, allergies, insect bites, or fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. Some common astringent agents include alum, oatmeal, acacia, sage, yarrow, witch hazel, bayberry, distilled vinegar, very cold water, tea, and rubbing alcohol. Astringent preparations include silver nitrate, potassium permanganate, zinc oxide, zinc sulfate, Burow’s solution, tincture of benzoin, and vegetable substances such as tannic and gallic acids. Balaustines are the red rose-like flowers of the pomegranate, which are very bitter to the taste. In medicine, its dried form has been used as an astringent.

Witch Hazel

Astringents marketed for the face contain a high proportion of alcohol (20-60%), antiseptic ingredients, water, and a humectant ingredient.

Sea Breeze

These are commonly recommended for oily skins as they are drying, removal of oil from the skin does not cause overproduction of oil as there are no structure in the skin that provides a mechanism that will send a negative feedback to the oil glands that the skin has become dry and it needs to compensate for that condition . To compensate for that dryness, it would be recommended to use a water based, non comedogenic facial moisturizer.

Alum Crystal by AudioPervert

Toner types:  Lotion/Bracers/Fresheners/Washes/Skin Tonics

Lotion or Washes

Is designed to cleanse the skin and sometimes depending on if it is for oily or acneic skin to temporarily shrink the appearance of pores, moisturize for normal or dry skin, balance the skin for combination skin, and calm the skin for sensitive skin.  Usually used on the face  and sometimes the back or decollete.

Pevonia Problematic Skin Lotion

Skin Bracers or Fresheners

These are the mildest form of toners; they contain virtually no alcohol (0-10%), water, and a humectant such as glycerine. Humectants help to keep the moisture in the upper layers of the epidermis by preventing it from evaporating. A popular example of this is rosewater.

Rose Water

These toners are the gentlest to the skin, and are most suitable for use on dry, dehydrated, sensitive and normal skins. It may give a burning sensation to sensitive skin.

Skin Tonics

These are slightly stronger and contain a small quantity of alcohol (up to 20%), water and a humectant ingredient. Orange flower water is an example of a skin tonic. Skin tonics are suitable for use on normal, combination, and oily skin.

Orange Flower Water

Hydrosols/Herbal Waters/Hydrolate/Essential Waters/Refreshers/Waters

Herbal distillates are aqueous solutions or colloidal suspensions (hydrosol) of essential oils usually obtained by steam distillation from aromatic plants. These herbal distillates have uses as flavorings, medicine and in skin care.

Aesop Immediate Moisture Facial Hydrosol

Herbal distillates are produced in the same manner as essential oils. However, the essential oil will float to the top of the distillate where it is removed, leaving behind the watery distillate. For this reason perhaps the term essential water is more descript. In the past, these essential waters were considered a byproduct of distillation, but now are considered an important co-product.

The science of distillation is based on the fact that different substances vaporize at different temperatures. Unlike other extraction techniques based on solubility of a compound in either water or oil, distillation will separate components regardless of their solubility. The distillate will contain compounds that vaporize at or below the temperature that water boils. The actual chemical components of distillates have not yet been fully identified, but distillate will contain essential oil compounds as well as organic acids. Compounds with a higher vaporization point will remain behind and will include many of the water soluble plant pigments and flavonoids.

Herbal waters contain diluted essential oils. Besides aromatic chemicals, these distillates also contain many more of the plant acids than pure essential oils making them skin friendly. Cosmetics and toiletries makers are finding many uses for herbal distillates. A pH between 5-6 makes them suitable for use as facial toners. They can be used alone as room sprays. Distillates are also used as flavorings and curables.

Because hydrosols are produced at high temperatures and are somewhat acidic, they tend to inhibit bacterial growth. They are not however sterile. They are a fresh product, like milk, and should be kept refrigerated.

Toners, astringents, lotion, bracers, washes, hydrosols, herbal waters, hydrolate, essential waters, refreshers and waters can be applied to the face in different ways:

  • On damp cotton wool. (most frequently used method)
  • Spraying onto the face.
  • By applying a tonic gauze facial mask – a piece of gauze is covered with the solution and left on the face for a few minutes.
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