An Aesthetician Suggested I Try This Product to Transform My Skin—and It Worked

Anak Cosmetics Sulphur & Salicylic Toner
Anak Cosmetics Sulphur & Salicylic Toner

After a year of going through the motions with my skincare routine (what's the point of all five steps when you're working from your bed?), my complexion was looking less than stellar. And with my wedding fast approaching, I was willing to shell out whatever it took to get a glowing complexion for my big day. Which is how I met Anak of Anak Cosmetics—and more importantly, her excellent toner.

Anak Cosmetics is a skincare brand that's free of sulfates, parabens, carcinogens, DEA (the lathering agent diethanolamine), and more potentially harmful ingredients that was founded by the one-named Anak, a makeup artist and medical aesthetician. What sets the line apart is that it's personalized to your individual needs—there's a helpful skincare quiz to get you started based on your concerns, or you can do a virtual consultation with an expert to assess your skin type. It's like accessing your own in-house facialist via your computer.

I decided to take both the skincare quiz and the virtual consultation for the best results, which required me to send images of my makeup-free face for Anak to analyze. Having spent years in the sun, I'm hyper-aware and insecure of my sunspots and discoloration, but during our virtual meeting, Anak seemed more concerned with the things I had overlooked.

By zooming in embarrassingly close to my photos, she pointed out that I had congestion around my nose, blackheads and whiteheads on my chin, and overall dullness and dryness. She suggested trying to clear the impurities before dealing with the hyperpigmentation by adding just one new product to my skincare routine: the Sulphur and Salicylic Acid Toner.

To buy: $49;

The toner has acne-fighting salicylic acid, clarifying witch hazel, and antibacterial azelaic acid to help clean, decongest, and tone skin all at once. I was naturally skeptical that a toner was all I needed to see a breakthrough in my complexion, but I took her advice and began applying it to my face and neck after cleansing both morning and night.

It is amazing how much my cleanser was not fully cleaning my skin. A cotton-ball swipe of the toner picked up dirt, makeup, oil, and even towel remnants that my daily face wash had been missing. Not only did my skin feel cleaner with the addition of the toner, but after one week, I also noticed it was brighter.

After two weeks, the blackheads and whiteheads that had previously been living rent-free on my nose and chin were virtually gone. My pores appeared smaller, my skin was more hydrated, and there was an evenness to my complexion that I'd never achieved before. I stopped fixating on my sunspots and started admiring my overall glow. All because I added this toner to my routine.

If you're thinking about dropping hundreds on new skincare products, I suggest trying the $49 Sulphur and Salicylic Acid Toner from Anak Cosmetics first. It might just be all you need.