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Can An Exfoliating Toner Give You Clearer Skin?

Spoiler alert: It may be the skincare product missing from your routine.
PHOTO: istockphoto

In a nutshell, exfoliating toners or acid toners improve skin texture with every use. Although the name may sound harsh or abrasive, its benefits are actually the opposite. Below, we discuss ~*everything*~ you need to know about exfoliating toners, including the best brands to try!

What are the benefits of an exfoliating toner?

It normally takes 28 days for dead skin to naturally shed, but as you age, it takes more days for the surface to renew. An exfoliating toner accelerates this cycle. It micro-peels layers of dead skin, so you're assured that there won't be any flaking on your face. You'll barely notice the "peeling," but you'll surely recognize your skin's radiance.

An exfoliating/acid toner balances your skin's pH level to 5.5, the ideal number. ICYDK, acid ingredients naturally have lower pH levels compared to soaps and cleansers. Cleansers usually have a higher pH, leaning towards the alkaline spectrum. When your skin has a pH level of 5.5, the barrier is considered healthy. Anything higher is deemed to be dry and sensitive. If it's too acidic, your face may be prone to angry, inflamed breakouts.


How will I know if it's an exfoliating toner?

It's pretty easy to determine if a toner has exfoliating benefits. All you need to do is to look for these ingredients on the label: AHA, BHA, PHA, fruit acids, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid. Generally speaking, if you spot the word "acid," you've hit the jackpot.

Should I use an exfoliating toner?

Exfoliating helps get rid of acne, excess sebum production, dullness, discoloration, and uneven skin texture. If you can relate to any of the aforementioned skin issues, then you're a candidate for using exfoliating toners. 

How often should I use an exfoliating toner?

Depending on your skin type, it is safe to use exfoliating toners every day. We also suggest that you never incorporate other peeling products in your routine to avoid over-exfoliating. Scrubs are a big no-no when you apply chemical exfoliants on your face. Too much exfoliation will destroy the skin's barrier, eventually defeating the purpose of pH-friendly acid toners!

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Also, it's a must to layer on sunscreen on your face when using acid products. Your skin is extra photo-sensitive to UV rays and heat, so it's best to protect it. TBH, whether your skin is undergoing micro-peeling or not, wearing SPF is a non-negotiable!

What should I look for in an exfoliating toner if I have oily or acne-prone skin?

To combat oiliness, skin breakouts, whiteheads, and blackheads, look for toners which have both AHA and BHA. These both work to dissolve dirt and sebum buildup in the pores, resurface uneven skin texture (adios, acne marks), and control overactive oil glands. 

Check these ingredients on the product label:

AHA - Alpha hydroxy acid dissolves the outer layer of the skin and fades discoloration, making it a brightening aid. It is also water-based.

  • Lactic acid - derived from milk, also improves skin's hydration. It is praised for its anti-aging effects.
  • Glycolic acid - Extracted from fruits, resurfaces uneven skin texture and dislodges dead skin buildup. It has antimicrobacterial properties to prevent pimples.
  • Mandelic acid - Made from almonds, this resurfaces rough texture and refines the look of the pores.

BHA - This type of acid is oil based, so it penetrates and digs dip into sebum buildup in the pores.

  • Salicylic acid - The most common type of BHA, this effectively KILLS pimples and gets rid of clogged pores.
  • Azelaic acid - Many people are into this barley and wheat-based acid because of its anti-acne benefits.
  • Citric acid - As the name suggests, it is made from citrus fruits. It brightens the skin and eradicates pimples.

What exfoliating toner should I use if I have sensitive skin?

For those who have sensitive skin, it's best to be careful with the usage of acids. Apply the acid toner every other day first, to see how the skin will react. If you experience any redness or extreme stinging, it's best to stop using the product. Of course, we highly recommend that you speak with a dermatologist first before introducing anything new in your skincare routine, especially acids. You may also look into PHA and lactic acid toners. These don't deeply penetrate the skin, but they still can even out skin texture and control sebum production.


Can dry skin still use exfoliating toners?

Absolutely! You may focus on looking for toners with PHA or lactic acid, because these exfoliants also boost hydration. Plus, dry skin is prone to wrinkles, and acid toners help reduce the appearance of fine lines.

What exfoliating toners are available in the Philippines?

Thankfully, Pinays have lots of options here in the Philippines. Check out the best exfoliating toners you can try below:

  1. Maxi-Peel Zero Micro-Exfoliant Liquid

    The Maxi-Peel Zero Micro-Exfoliant Liquid is powered by AHA and BHA. It kills pimples, tighten pores, and fades acne marks.

    Exfoliating ingredients: AHA, BHA


    Maxi-Peel Zero Micro-Exfoliant Liquid, P75, Watsons

  2. Son and Park Beauty Water

    Son and Park Beauty Water contains papaya extract which gently gets rid of dead skin cells and uneven skin tone. Willow bark extract, on the other hand, soothes a tired complexion. It has a pH of 4.5, so it can balance sebum-moisture levels of oily, normal, sensitive, and dry skin.


    Exfoliating ingredients: Citric acid, papaya extract

    Son and Park Beauty Water, P1,400, Go Bloom and Glow

  3. Pixi Glow Tonic

    The Pixi Glow Tonic has glowing (get it?) reviews on the internet, and we think that alone is enough reason for you to try it. Upon regular use, you'll notice a brighter and even complexion. Plus, it heals pimples as it exfoliates!

    Exfoliating ingredient: Glycolic acid


    Pixi Glow Tonic, P390/15ml, P990/100ml, and P1,690/250ml, Watsons

  4. CosRX AC Collection Calming Liquid Intensive

    If you've got acne-prone skin, then the CosRX AC Collection Calming Liquid Intensive is the exfoliating toner for you. BHA and PHA unclog pores and renew the skin surface. Centella Asiatica and tea tree oil calm down inflammation and infection.

    Exfoliating ingredients: BHA and PHA


    CosRX AC Collection Calming Liquid Intensive, P1,200, Go Bloom and Glow

  5. Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

    Powered by glycolic acid and papaya extract, the Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner smoothens out rough skin texture, evens out pigmentation, and melts the gunk stuck in the pores.

    Exfoliating ingredients: Glycolic acid and Papaya extract


    Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner, P1,200, Rustan's the Beauty Source

  6. By Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Prep Water

    The By Wishtrend Madelic Acid Prep Water provides gentle exfoliation that will never leave the face feeling raw, tight, and dry. Its formula also treats pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. Expect to see brigher skin when you include this toner in your evening skincare routine.

    Exfoliating ingredient: Mandelic acid


    By Wishtrend Mandelic Acid 5% Prep Water, P1,250, Go Bloom and Glow

  7. Some by Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner

    The Some by Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner is famous for its promise of leaving your skin flawless and smooth within 30 days of regular use. And we're telling you, it's worth the hype: It dislodges blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples while hydrating your face. 

    Exfoliating ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Lactobionic Acid, Citric Acid


    Some by Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner, P1,600, Go Bloom and Glow

That's all for now, but we'll keep on updating this as we try new exfoliating toners! In the meantime, join our Cosmo Beauty Group so we can talk more about skincare, makeup, and hair care.

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