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13 Glycolic Acid Toners That Work Magic on Your Skin

Dark spots don't stand a chance.

acids
Rosdiana CiaravoloGetty Images

I was born in the early '90s, which means I grew up thinking toners were mostly bright pink liquids that smelled like alcohol and would make me look like a grown-up. As a kid, I'd dump a ton of my granny's go-to formula on a cotton ball or five, and buff my skin as if I were furiously wiping Windex on a dirty mirror. I remember feeling that tight, dry, squeaky-clean sensation afterwards and hating it. But I'd gotten off on the wrong foot, and I misjudged toners in general. Now, the product makes an almost everyday appearance in my routine—but I've leveled up when it comes to my favorite formulas. My favorite toners as of late are made to exfoliate, specifically with glycolic acid.

These days, toners do it all. In addition to their main goals—think improving the appearance of pores, evening out tone, and cleansing the skin—they're now infused with ingredients that give them and extra kick. Some hydrate as they cleanse, and some strengthen the skin barrier. Others, like glycolic acid, work to exfoliate and remove dread skin.

What is glycolic acid toner used for?

Glycolic acid is an MVP when it comes to removing dead skin cells and promoting cell turnover, which means eradicating dark spots and brightening the complexion. Integrating some extra exfoliating power into the first step in your routine should feel like a no brainer. (Note: glycolic acid, like all AHAs, can make the skin sensitive to the sun, so always follow up with sunscreen.) Here, our absolute favorite glycolic acid toners for your best and brightest skin ever.

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1
For a Budget
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
The Ordinary ulta.com
$8.70

Clear skin doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag. This effective solution will cleanse your skin without stripping it, and prime your skin for the rest of your routine. 

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2 8% Glycolic Solutions Toner
Peter Thomas Roth walmart.com
$24.99

This beloved Peter Thomas Roth formula serves to both exfoliate and moisturize the skin, thanks to a combination of witch hazel, sodium PCA, and 8 percent glycolic acid. The leave-on toner can be a little drying at first, so make sure to layer on moisturizer and wear SPF if you're heading outside.

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3
For Sensitive Skin
Glycolic Acid Toner
courtesy of brand
Mario Badescu ulta.com
$18.00

Mario Badescu's products have been a skincare staple for beauty mavens for years, and this toner is just one example of a basic that goes the extra mile. It's mild enough to use every day, but effective enough to help clear acne-prone skin.

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4
For Congested Pores
Glycolic Acid Toner
courtesy of brand
The Inkey List amazon.com
$17.73

Pores: you can't get rid of them, but you can sure as hell make them less noticeable. This formula contains a hefty 10 percent to smooth things over fast and help reduce the appearance of those stubborn spots on your T-zone. 

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5
For a Reboot
Enhance Brightening Solution
courtesy of brand
Glytone dermstore.com
$37.00

When you're complexion is looking duller than chalk and you need a total reset, a (gentle!) cocktail of acids can help shed dead skin and impurities loose. This one is a blend of glycolic, azelaic, and salicylic acids to clear, brighten, and smooth even the most tired parts of your visage. 

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6
For Dullness
Glow Tonic
Pixi ulta.com
$18.00

This affordable options has a cult following for a reason. The bright, botanical blend contains aloe vera and ginseng to nourish skin, while glycolic acid brightens a dull complexion. 

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7
For Dry Skin
Ain't Misbehavin' Healthy Toner
Courtesy of brand
DERMAdoctor dermstore.com
$39.00

Lactic acid is ideal for dry skin since it won't draw precious moisture away, and pairing it with glycolic acid provides a one-two punch when it comes to clearing clogged pores. 

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8 Exfoliate Glycolic Acid Toner
courtesy of brand
Pestle & Mortar bloomingdales.com
$38.00

Daisy flower extract and green tea give an supplementary brightening boost to this toner, which is geared towards reducing uneven pigment and reducing the appearance of fine lines. 

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9 Good Molecules Glycolic Exfoliating Toner
courtesy of brand
Good Molecules ulta.com
$14.00

If you're looking to brighten without breaking the bank, this gentle option is an easy addition to your routine. Its glycolic acid smooths uneven texture, while hyaluronic acid and aloe help hydrate and nourish the skin so you don't overdo it on the exfoliation.

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10
For Acne Scars
Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner
Ole Henriksen sephora.com
$34.00

Maybe you had cystic acne as a teen, or maybe your breakouts are in full swing. Either way, there's a chance you've got some residual effects left to show for it, like dark spots or a bumpy texture. This liquid lifts that stubborn hyperpigmentation and smooths the complexion to bring you back to center. And it comes in a huge bottle, so it'll last you months. 

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11
For Dry Skin
Conditioning Toner
SkinCeuticals bluemercury.com
$34.00

Toners shouldn't be stripping, and Skinceuticals' formula softens the skin while it buffs away dead skin cells with AHAs and eucalyptus oil.

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12
For Balanced Skin
Acid Potion Resurfacing Exfoliator
Moon Juice sephora.com
$42.00

Your skin's moisture barrier protects and keeps your complexion balanced, and this potent blend includes reishi and niacinimides to hydrate and sooth while it exfoliates.  

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13
For Redness-Prone Skin
Get Toned Pro-Glycolic 10% Resurfacing Toner
TULA Skincare dermstore.com
$42.00

This formula's probiotic and glycolic blend resurfaces and balances the skin's surface, while hyaluronic acid hydrates the skin so it stays bouncy and plump. And potent botanicals provide extra benefits: turmeric reduces inflammation, while blueberry extract fights free radical damage to prevent signs of aging.  

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