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 afterward, 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 as of late are made to exfoliate, specifically with glycolic acid.
What does a glycolic acid toner do?
Nowadays, 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. 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. So, integrating some extra exfoliating power into the first step in my routine feels 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.
Clear skin doesn't have to come with a major price tag. This effective solution will cleanse your skin without stripping it, and prime your skin for the rest of your routine.
For $11, this liquid is potent. It has a whopping 10 percent glycolic acid to lessen the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
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.
Typical toners target pores, but a 7 percent glycolic acid content gives this exfoliating formula a major boost. And if you notice your foundation sinking into fine wrinkles, a few drops on a cotton pad will work to smooth your canvas for makeup.
Toners shouldn't be stripping, and Skinceuticals' formula softens the skin while it buffs away dead skin cells with AHAs and eucalyptus oil.
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.
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.
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.