Top-Selling Toners Almost Always Have This Skin-Improving Ingredient in Common

Erin Jahns
·6 mins read

Take one of the most beloved skincare products (toner) and one of the buzziest skincare ingredients (glycolic acid) and you're left with a match made in beauty heaven. Alas, as with any and all beauty products, especially when it comes to skincare formulations, not every brightening, clarifying, and pore-refining glycolic acid toner is created equally. There's definitely a hierarchy, and we're here to shed some light.

As a quick refresh, toners are either water- or alcohol-based solutions that can offer a wide array of benefits depending on the starring ingredients they feature. (You'll want to find a toner that's specifically geared toward your skin type as well!) As far as the benefits toners can offer, celebrity facialist Renée Rouleau explains that the right formulas can boost hydration (make sure you leave it on damp after cleansing), balance your skin's pH, remove drying salts and chlorines found in tap water, enhance the results of your entire skincare regimen, and support your skin's natural protective barrier.

Many toners on the market contain acids—BHAs like lactic and AHAs like salicylic and glycolic—which are specifically adept at exfoliating and resurfacing. As we explained here, AHAs, such as glycolic acid, are especially useful for anyone looking to boost radiance, fade dark spots, tighten the skin, and smooth fine lines. Yes, you can find glycolic acid in all types of skincare products, but it's a prominent player in many best-selling toners, in particular. Concentrations of the acid vary depending on the brand and formula, and you'll want to tread carefully—slower at first and then faster depending on your skin's tolerance—but a glycolic percentage between 5% and 10% is usually optimal for best results. Below, we've taken the lift out of your shopping workout by rounding up 10 of the best highly rated glycolic acid toners on the market. Keep scrolling!

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($9)

Not only is this one of the top-selling glycolic toners on the market, but it's also one of the most affordable. (You're welcome!) Skin-loving ingredients like amino acids, aloe vera, ginseng, and Tasmanian pepperberry offset its potency, so it plays well with all skin types—even dry or sensitive.

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The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($7)

Goop G.Tox Malachite + AHA Pore Refining Tonic

Goop G.Tox Malachite + AHA Pore Refining Tonic ($75)

I'm not sure the rhyme or reason, but I've personally always had better luck with AHA acids (like glycolic and salicylic) than BHAs. So out of my personal collection of glycolic-based toners, this one from Goop is one of my absolute favorites. It's expensive, but the beautiful cerulean formula is enriched with so many amazing, high-quality ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin B3, deep seawater from France, and more. The silky, serum-like consistency leaves skin velveteen soft.

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Goop GoopGenes All-in-One Nourishing Face Cream ($95)

Pixi Glow Tonic

Pixi Glow Tonic ($18)

Inexpensive yet efficient, there's a reason this 5% glycolic acid toner from Pixi is known as an affordably priced dupe for formulas 10 times its price. It gets the job done and leaves skin smooth, bright, and thoroughly exfoliated with just one sweep.

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Pixi Overnight Glow Serum ($24)

Moon Juice Acid Potion Resurfacing Exfoliator

Moon Juice Acid Potion Resurfacing Exfoliator ($42)

Psst… You're going to want to prick your ears up for this one. In the beauty underground (aka, the mass text, email, and Slack threads among editors), this ultrapowerful glycolic-based toner from Moon Juice is known as Biologique Recherche's less-splurge-worthy doppelgänger. (Yep, really!) The 25% AHA+BHA acid complex is safe for all skin types, and strategic additions like niacinamide, tocotrienols, and adaptogenic reishi (because this is Moon Juice, after all) keep skin plump, hydrated, and freakishly clear.

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Moon Juice Plump Jelly Hydrating Serum ($58)

Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Essence

Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Essence ($49)

French beauty brand Caudalie has tons of beloved formulas, but this glycolic toner is a standout. (Who can argue with a solid five-star rating?) Balanced with lush organic grape water and white peony, it's delicate and gentle on the skin while still having enough vim and vigor thanks to a concentrated dose of glycolic acid to easily neutralize spots and dullness.

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Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum ($79)

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner with Salicylic Acid

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner with Salicylic Acid ($15)

Yes, the name of this toner boasts salicylic acid (another effective AHA), but this drugstore French staple also has an ample dose of glycolic acid. Together, it's a superstar antidote for anyone especially prone to oiliness, congestion, or stubborn breakouts.

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La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Retinoid Acne Treatment ($30)

The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Toner

The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Toner ($11)

A top-rated, $11 glycolic acid toner might sound too good to be true, but in the case of this fan favorite from The Inkey List, it definitely isn't. Simple and to the point, the blend of 10% glycolic acid and 5% witch hazel team up to deeply exfoliate clogged pores and handily curb excess oil.

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The Inkey List Squalane Oil ($12)

Alpha-A Liquid Gold

Alpha-H Liquid Gold ($20)

This glycolic acid toner truly has it all and has generated discernible buzz within the industry ever since its launch. The brand uses a very specific low-pH delivery system to help key ingredients like glycolic acid, licorice extract, and silk proteins penetrate more deeply and effectively into the skin. The results? Smoother, brighter, more even-looking skin. Plus, fewer lines and wrinkles.

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Alpha-H Liquid Gold Firming Eye Cream ($80)

Tula Get Toned Pro-Glycolic 10% Resurfacing Toner

Tula Get Toned Pro-Glycolic 10% Resurfacing Toner ($34)

Tula is known for its game-changing skincare formulations, which feature strategic strains of probiotics to help rebuild and strengthen compromised complexions. This top-rated toner features the brand's signature complex blend of gylcolic acid in addition to lactobacillus probiotics to help rebalance the skin's pH and add an extra dose of nourishing moisture. Oh, but it doesn't stop there! Cherry-on-top additions include turmeric, mushrooms, beet, blueberry, and hyaluronic acid to round it all out.

You'll also love…

Tula The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser ($28)

Mario Badescu Skin Care Glycolic Acid Toner

Mario Badescu Skin Care Glycolic Acid Toner ($18)

One of the more mild glycolic acid toners on our menu, this fan favorite from Mario Badescu also contains some other signature ingredients from the brand like aloe vera and grapefruit extract to gently resurface the skin while enhancing moisture, radiance, and overall tone.

You'll also love…

Mario Badescu Skin Care Drying Lotion ($17)

Up next, A No-BS Guide to "Active" Skincare Ingredients and the Amount Needed for Results

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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