18 Glycolic Acid Toners That Work Magic on Your Skin

Dark spots don't stand a chance.

glycolic acid toner
(Image credit: Getty Images, Rosdiana Ciaravolo)

I was born in the early '90s, which means I grew up thinking toners (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab).

These days, toners do it all. In addition to their main goals—think improving the appearance of pores (opens in new tab), 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 toners, work to exfoliate and remove dead skin.

What is glycolic acid toner used for?

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Glycolic acid is an MVP when it comes to removing dead skin cells and promoting cell turnover, which means eradicating dark spots  (opens in new tab)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 (opens in new tab).) Here, our absolute favorite glycolic acid toners for your best and brightest skin ever.

Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.