Acid toning – Exfoliating toners

Hello everybody 🙂 ,

I chose the acid toning topic as one of my first posts for two reasons: first it seems to be very popular at the moment (mostly due to Caroline Hirons) and secondly in the past 2 months it has changed my skin for the better.

I am aware that acids and toners both have a bad reputation, so many people might be scared by those and that is why calling them “exfoliating toners” might help 🙂 Please bare in mind that beauty industry has evolved majorly in the past decade(s) so those products  are not dangerous, they are to be considered important tools in your routine if used properly.

Plus if you use any kind of beads exfoliant, exfoliating toners are normally more gentle for your skin than those.

As an introduction I would like to state that I am in my late twenties (actually turning 30 this week) and have pretty normal skin type with occasional breakouts. I have also used acid/acid toners in my teen years to fight a mild acne but I will get to that later.

What is acid/exfoliating toning?

Basically is the step in your skin care that follows cleansing and prepares your skin for the later steps such as serums, creams etc. It is done by pouring toner solution on a cotton pad (or by using pre-soaked pads directly) and applying product onto your face, following the instruction of specific products (some requires rinsing afterwards). Normally you would do this morning and evening (please see disclaimers later on).

Who can benefit from this?

Mostly all skin types. There are many acids (see later on) and many products available on the market, from the very mild ones to stronger ones. You should always start from the very mild ones and take it from there by “listening” to your skin needs. Young skins (late teens or early twenties) might need only very mild and probably not everyday, if you have a specific problem always contact a dermatologist or doctor and ask what is best way to approach the issue.

The same applies for very sensitive skin, ask your doctor or dermatologist if you are not sure how your skin might react.

What are the advantages?

  • Balancing pH of your skin after cleansing and prepare the skin for the rest of the skincare routine. Serums and creams will be better absorbed and you will need smaller amounts.
  • Exfoliating and renewing effect
  • Hydrating –  here is where most of people get surprised. Toner acts as humectant so they help attracting moisture from the air to the skin.

Toning routine

It is important to use different types of exfoliating toners (try differentiate morning from evening) according to your skin needs for the day or period. It is recommended to follow the use of exfoliating toner with a more hydrating toner or mist that contains aloe, hyaluronic acid, glycerin etc.

As I mentioned before start with mild one if you have never tried before (salicylic acid or low percentages of other acids) and take it from there according to your needs. Some people do not cope well with glycolic acid, there are many other options on the market if that is your case.

It goes without saying that during the day you should always use SPF, that is a must with or without acid toners.

Types of acid (and some famous examples)

Alpha hydroxy acid:

  • Lactic acid – Good for dry skin
  • Glycolic acid – Stimulates collagen production / renewing effect

Beta hydroxy acid:

  • Salicylic acid – Mild, helps with breakouts and acne

Poly hydroxy acid – Help with hydration

Personal experience

I will divide this in two parts as they are different experiences:

  • Teenage years- I suffered from mild acne when I was a teenager (probably as 90% of teenagers). I have visited dermatologist several times  and he would prescribe me solution of glycolic acid at 20%. I used to pour a small amount of solution on a cotton pad and apply after washing my face. It helped very much although I have to admit I was using very drying products on my skin all the time (face washes etc) so on the long run it was too much for my skin. Nowadays there are cotton pads already soaked in milder acids that would have done the trick for me.  I have done this only for maybe 2 years (on and off not every day) and have not used glycolic acid again until very recently.
  • Very late twenties – A couple of months ago I started digging into the topic after reading Caroline Hirons´ blog. I have started with mild ones (and still using mild) and I have to admit my skin has really improved in the past weeks. Not that it was in bad conditions but around Christmas time I had some breakouts and after using acid toners for past weeks my skin looks healthier in general, pores look smaller, skin is glowing, skin coloration is more even… If I have to be honest this is the happiest I have been with my skin 🙂

Products I am using at the moment


Pixi Glow Tonic – A fantastic product in my opinion and with very good ingredients. I used this in the evening only (but it could be used mornings as well).

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads – These are very mild and perfect to start with. I use these morning and evening, I just finished them and to be honest they might be too mild for my skin at the moment.

First Aid Beauty Blemish Patrol Pads – Surprisingly I find these more effective for me than radiance pads. I use them in the morning mostly.

These are the ones I am using at the moment but I am sure I will try others very soon.

Useful link

Here you can find Caroline Hirons top 10 🙂

I hope this post was useful and if any comments I will happy to read and respond.



By |2018-12-17T17:09:13+00:00February 2nd, 2016|Beauty|0 Comments

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