Astringent Products and Their Role on the Skin

Astringent Products and Their Role on the Skin

Does your skin react to just about everything?

Or maybe you’re an oily-skinned guy or gal and have resorted to using harsh ingredients in the past to try and control that daily shine?

For this reason, I want to discuss astringent ingredients that are often used in the beauty industry.

The word “astringent” is such an ambiguous word; what does it really mean?

An astringent is a substance which causes biological tissue to contract or draw together, after topical application.

Bear with me as I get technical for a minute: astringents work on the protein, keratin, found in the skin. The salt bonds in keratin are affected by temperature and pH, and form when the skin is slightly acidic or cool.

If the bonds break, the keratin molecules separate, causing the outer layer of skin to swell. When the skin cools, these salt bonds reform, and it is this process that produces the temporary “toning” effect associated with astringents.

Can you permanently reduce pore size?

No! Apologies for being blunt here, but contrary to popular belief, this action is short-lived.

You can’t permanently reduce enlarged pores which are over-stretched, no matter what clever marketing campaigns try to tell you. This is a topic I discuss in greater detail in the article, “Oily Skin Remedies“.

Alcohol Astringents

Two alcohol astringents are used in the personal care industry:

  • Isopropyl alcohol, often referred to as “rubbing alcohol”
  • SD alcohol, or ethanol, is a specially denatured ethyl alcohol

Astringents give the skin an instant cooling effect.

When you apply alcohol to the skin, it evaporates very quickly, stimulating the sensory nerve endings in the skin that constrict blood vessels.

It is this action that gives it the cooling feeling – much like splashing cold water on your face – this is why alcohols are often used in aftershave products.

Synthetic Versus Natural Astringents

Synthetic alcohols can cause irritation and dehydration.

This upsets the delicate micro flora that preserves the acid mantle; this is where alcohols get their reputation for stripping the skin.

And yes, they do clear the skin’s surface of oil, but at a price; they cause oil glands to go into overdrive as they try to replace the lost oil, making skin even oilier…

So, no matter what your skin type, try to avoid astringent alcohols. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural alternatives available.

Natural Astringents

  • Sage
  • Menthol
  • Camphor
  • Witch hazel
  • Lemon extract
  • Potassium alum

Witch hazel is often used as a natural alternative, but used in high concentrations it can be very astringent. When used in low concentrations, it can be extremely soothing, making it the perfect natural treatment for an oily, combination skin prone to breakouts.

Because we are all about treating sensitivity, our formulae are extremely repairing. Bio Lipid Complex is perfect for treating a skin that has become compromised.

Follow the link to read more about the correct use of astringents.

6 thoughts on “Astringent Products and Their Role on the Skin

  1. Indre says:

    I like your blog. Very interesting. Thank you!

    I’m not sure if this question really suits this particular blog entry.. but anyway.. I’ve seen a lot of DIY projects on the internet of how to make natural facial toner. And this includes two ingredients : water and apple cider vinegar. What do you think about this type of toner? Can this cause any harm to skin?

    Would be interesting to hear your opinion.

  2. Dr james says:

    Pores are stretched by the over production of oil in the sebaceous gland and Samantha is right nothing will shrink the pores sorry to say.

  3. Alison Coleman says:

    Hi Jen I almost have to agree with you, almost because I have been using astringent products on my open pores for many years but nothing has ever reduced them in size..frustrating to say the least 6

  4. Jen Malpa says:

    Hi Samantha
    Are you saying , that it is actually not possible to permanently shrink pores? I feel I have to challenge this statement because so many skincare companies actually claim that you can… Why would you say other wise??

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Jen

      I am sorry to be the one to tell you, but yes it is impossible to permanently shrink pores. A product that has this claim behind it, will usually contain an astringent ingredient that temporarily shrinks the pores, because it is irritating and the pore closes down. it is possible to absorb excess sebum from the pores but nothing permanent will reduce pore size which is due to genetics or overstretching due to over secretion from the sebaceous glands.

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