Just like we shed our winter layers, we should also shed the outer scales we formed during the dry, winter months. We’ve come a long way since the Egyptians’ methods of scrubbing and the Middle Ages beauty queens using wine as their preferred exfoliant. The exfoliating toners out on the market today are jam-packed with goodies besides the straight-up glycolic acid, ensuring we get a glow booster with the cell turnover.
How Exfoliants Help Your Skin & Appearance
Skin cells shed naturally every 30 days. However, not every cycle is created equal, meaning there are remnants left over from turnovers, which can lead to flaky patches and clogged pores. If they keep building up, you will face rougher texture, hyperpigmentation, deeper-looking wrinkles, and general dullness. One way to ensure a smooth canvas year-round is to give the process a helping hand with a chemical or a physical exfoliation.
We’re focusing on chemical exfoliants here, which dissolves the “glue” that holds dead skins together to make them slough off naturally. Unlike physical exfoliation, chemical exfoliants hit slightly deeper in the skin layer, resulting in a more thorough exfoliation without the irritation from physical scrubbing.
There are many benefits to this, including unclogging pores, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and erasing fine lines, reducing blackheads, minimizing the appearance of pores, controlling oil, clarifying and brightening skin.
Cult Fave Exfoliating Toners With High Marks
You might have heard of this little gem that scores high marks from all beauty-obsessed skincare gurus. The exfoliating lotion relies on salicylic acid, malic acid, which is an AHA derived from apples, and lactic acid, which not only exfoliates but moisturizes. The formula also contains gluconolactone, a next-generation AHA (also called PHA) that increases skin thickness and decreases wrinkles. It also contains the current skincare superstar making waves in the beauty industry: niacinamide.
This is a straightforward formula that relies solely on glycolic acid as its primary exfoliant. The key to this bottle is the price point for the ingredients you’re getting. The 7% glycolic acid solution allows for deep exfoliation without irritating skin. Luckily, cornflower extract, aloe, and Tasmanian Pepper Extract all help with anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.
The crowd favorite is surprisingly close in active ingredients to The Ordinary Glycolic Acid solution. It contains 5% glycolic acid, which is lower than The Ordinary, but it also comes with witch hazel and horse chestnut extracts to soothe skin. Overall, if you’re choosing a glycolic acid solution, you might want to opt for The Ordinary because of its friendlier price point.
Looking to come close to the P50 lotion without the hefty price tag? This is your next best bet from Glossier. The exfoliating skin perfector uses salicylic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, and gluconolactone as the active exfoliants.
This one is for all the organic-loving beauties out there looking for as straightforward of a product as possible. The main active exfoliating ingredients are lactic acid and glycolic acid, with little else to impede the exfoliating power. The product has a bit of a funky smell, but it works well with little else to interfere.
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