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Glycolic acid is king in the world of skincare—it’s the favorite of doctors, skincare professionals, and Byrdie editors alike due to its plethora of advantages. Alpha-hydroxy acid is an effective chemical exfoliator, capable of dissolving dead skin cells that can cause blocked pores and an overall dull look but also possesses anti-wrinkle properties.
“Glycolic acid is really necessary,” says Renée Rouleau, celebrity esthetician and Byrdie’s go-to skincare expert. “It chemically prevents the accumulation of cells that causes blocked pores and blemishes, and it’s also an anti-aging staple.”
There are several methods to include the starring component into your regimen, but toner is perhaps the most straightforward. When it’s time to go to bed, wash your face and then apply it all over, prior to any serum or moisturizer. That’s correct; it’s that easy.
Are you ready to give one a try? Continue reading to learn about our top glycolic acid toners.
Best Overall: Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner
While glycolic acid is an excellent component for all skin types, if your complexion is both oily and dry, this toner is worth trying. With a reduced glycolic acid content of 2%, there is likely less danger of it aggravating dry areas, especially more so when combined with moisturizing aloe.
Best Budget: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
Every time we look at the price tags on any product from this brand, we do a second take, and this toner is no exception. As with the other products, it concentrates on a single active ingredient—in this case, glycolic acid at a potent 7% concentration. While it is the star of the show, it is complemented by amino acids, ginseng, and aloe vera to improve brightness and soothe the skin.
What Our Testers Say
“After a month of use, I do feel like my skin looks brighter and clearer, and I think the dark spots are clearing up, too.” — Adam Hurly, Product Tester
Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide that occurs naturally in the human body. It protects and lubricates our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, clinging to the water in the cells (while also drawing and retaining water from the air), plumping them. 3
While toners are frequently linked with oily skin types, this need not be the case. Additionally, the appropriate formula (a.k.a. this one) may be quite beneficial for dry skin. Fun fact: AHAs like as glycolic acid have some mild moisturizing properties,4 and this one is enhanced by the addition of ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid and aloe vera.
The brand’s first-ever toner is fresh off the press and well worth the investment. Glycolic acid is only one of six acids in a formula that promises excellent exfoliation, while astringent witch hazel and purifying charcoal purify pores. Additionally, it absorbs rapidly into the skin, leaving no tacky or sticky residue behind.
Because the contents of this toner might separate when it settles, shake the container well before using it.
Best Brightening: Bolden Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner
Whether you’re seeking to remove dark scars produced by sun damage, residual acne scarring, or who knows what else, this solution works. That is because, although it does include exfoliating glycolic acid, it also has many extremely efficient extra brightening chemicals. Specifically, niacinamide, licorice root extract, and algae extract, which also serves as a potent antioxidant.
Those who struggle with breakouts should strongly consider including a toner into their regimen; it’s a simple method to give the skin a more thorough wash while also benefiting from the exfoliating properties. This one is great for acne-prone skin since it is oil-free and contains oil-dissolving salicylic acid, which helps prevent blocked pores, blackheads, and whiteheads.
Best Natural: Evolve Beauty Rainforest Rescue Blemish Serum
This recipe is made entirely of natural and organic components and has no possibly harmful chemicals. It is suitable for all skin types and contains glycolic acid, malic acid from apples, and citric acid from citrus fruits, as well as salicylic acid. The delicate scent is also natural, as is the preservative, which is produced from sugar cane.
What Our Testers Say
“Spots that felt rough or bumpy were smoother, and the blackheads around my nose started to disappear. By the end of the four weeks, my complexion was a lot less dull and looked overall much healthier and radiant.” — Jenna Igneri, Product Tester
Glycolic acid belongs in almost everyone’s skincare routine, and using it in a toner is one of the simplest ways to include it. There are solutions for every skin type and need, however the SkinCeuticals Conditioning Toner and the Pixi Glow Tonic are team Byrdie favorites. If you’re looking for a brightening toner, consider the Bolden Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner. Consider a product that combines glycolic acid and salicylic acid if you’re battling acne. Both La Roche-Effaclar Posay’s Micro-Exfoliating Astringent and CosRX’s AHA/BHA Clarifying Toner are suitable.
What to Look For in a Glycolic Acid Toner
When it comes to selecting a glycolic acid toner, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner suggests first determining the product’s glycolic acid content. “The higher the concentration, the more acid is included inside the product,” he explains—and the more acid contained within the product, the more powerful (and possibly unpleasant) it is. If you’re new to skincare acids, start with a concentration of less than 8%; but, once you’ve developed a tolerance, a concentration of between 8% and 10% will provide obvious benefits.
Another critical aspect to consider, according to Dr. Zeichner, is the pH of the product itself. “The lower the pH, the more powerful the exfoliating action on the skin,” he explains. “At the same time, a lower pH has a more abrasive impact on the skin.” Acid toners with a pH of approximately 2 are typically fairly efficient, but it’s vital to keep in mind that they’re ineffective at pH levels more than
Due of the harshness of glycolic acid, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King suggests using a toner that contains moisturizing components. “Look for products that have glycolic acid and lactic acid, since this is an excellent combination for exfoliating and hydrating the skin,” she advises. “Lactic acid is an AHA that also acts as a humectant.” Along with lactic acid, she recommends aloe vera, glycerin, and chamomile as other moisturizing or soothing components to seek for.