What is an Astringent?
If you suffer from oily skin, enlarged pores, or acne, incorporating an astringent into your skin care routine is a must. The term astringent simply refers to a water-based solution that contains some sort of solvent that cuts through oil and dissolves superficial lipids on the skin’s surface. It’s an essential step – to be applied after cleansing and before moisturizing – that will leave you with tightened pores, stabilized oil production, and overall reduced unwanted shine. The astringent family includes ingredients like witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, vodka, and cedarwood oil – all of which are natural tonics that complete the cleansing process.
Why use an Astringent?
Astringent comes in handy in order to fully remove debris from your dermis post-cleanse: after using a cleanser, you’re typically left with trace amounts of oil or soap on your face, which can lead to future irritation and breakouts, or overall dullness. Astringent completes the cleansing process, fully preparing you for maximum absorption of your moisturizer. And maybe most importantly, astringent is intensely antibacterial, meaning that its application wards off infection, irritation, and blemishes caused by overgrowth of bacteria. If you want to learn more about the importance of cleansing bacteria from your skin, check out vetiver oil and sage oil for soothed, clearer skin.
Cedarwood Oil as Natural Astringent
At Puristry, we stay away from alcohol based astringents, which can cause excessive drying and be disruptive to your skin’s pH balance. Our go-to astringent is cedarwood oil, scientific name Juniperus virginiana, an ingredient with a long history and an incredible set of topical and aromatherapy properties. Cedarwood oil is derived from the giant cedar tree, abundant in north America, and thus part of a sustainable extraction process. The oil is obtained from the wood chips and sawdust of cedar trees through a process of steam distillation, resulting in a golden oil with a woody and spicy aroma. It’s thought of as an emotionally grounding aromatherapy oil, used in holistic medicine as a relaxant and anti-anxiety tonic for patients suffering from insomnia. The primary elements in the essential oil are alpha cedrene, beta cedrene, cedrol, widdrol, thujopsene, and a group of sesquiterpenes, all of which contribute to the oil’s toning, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties (these chemicals can also be found in patchouli and black pepper oil, and endow formulas with clarifying properties that enhance skin-cell turnover).
With this chemical profile, cedarwood oil is an effective treatment for skin conditions that are caused by overactive sebaceous glands – like acne and eczema – and can also be used to reduce inflammation around active blemishes and other irritations and imperfections. What’s more, it’s an effective remedy for fungal infections, preventing wounds from becoming septic as well as protecting them from tetanus germs. We incorporate cedarwood oil into our clarifying cleanser and toner formulas, thanks to its natural ability to clear skin, tighten pores, and protect your outer dermal layers from bacteria and toxins. When used as part of a clarifying routine, it enhances skin tone over time, contributing to a more even canvas, in both texture and tone.
Armed with these benefits, cedarwood oil features in our super skin-loving Nopal Cactus Cleanser, an extra gentle cleanser which is both calming and clarifying. The formula features cedarwood oil for its anti-blemish and toning properties, plus nopal cactus, another skin care overachiever with a high antioxidant content as well as Vitamin A and C for enhanced skin-cell turnover and increased elasticity. The formula also benefits from the inclusion of organic vegetable glycerin for softening and humectant action, and organic honeysuckle extract, which boasts ultra anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial chlorogenic acid. The takeaway? Our Nopal Cactus Cleanser is a must-have for all skin types, with a synergistic blend of both clarifying and moisturizing plant-based ingredients.
Cedarwood oil also enhances our Flower Water Toner, a Puristry favorite that reaps the benefits of cedarwood oil, alongside its sister organic astringent witch hazel distillate, another natural clarifier that helps remove excess oil and banish bacteria. This clarifying duo is enhanced with the ultra-calming and hydrating properties of rose and calendula hydrosols, both of which are highly effective when it comes to soothing redness and promoting even skin tone. Adding a facial toner to your skin care routine is essential. This is an all-purpose toner that’s gentle enough to use daily – apply it before serum or moisturizer, as it helps remove excess oil, balance skin pH levels, and prepare pores for the deepest possible absorption of concentrated products with active ingredients that you’ll be applying in later steps. It can be used as both a daytime and nighttime skin refresher, and is especially helpful for dealing with inflammation. Think of it as a glass of water for your skin that simultaneously wards off clogged pores.
The best part about cedarwood oil? It’s mild enough to work in a super gentle toner. While astringent simply refers to an ingredient with solvent properties, toner refers to a product that’s water based, contains active ingredients to lock in moisture (like plant extracts and essential oils), and often an astringent element to remove excess grime and pollution from day-to-day exposure. Cedarwood oil works as an astringent in our formulas, but doesn’t strip or over-dry, and compliments the humectant action of other ingredients that work to lock in hydration. It’s a balancing ingredient that tightens pores without irritating.
Our pro tip: when applying our cedarwood oil based products, make sure to massage thoroughly into your skin to reap the full benefits. Facial massage is an incredible way to stimulate blood flow, reduce swelling, and enhance collagen production, and is a powerful method to manually encourage deep absorption of a product. Plus, facial massage can encourage firming and lifting of skin that’s less taut than it used to be – our Seven Techniques for Facial Firming Massage Guide will take you through these spa-worthy steps. Keep up with us here for more ingredient spotlights and plant-based beauty guides.