This Cult-Loved Toner With Thousands of Glowing Reviews Cleared My Skin in Weeks


Toning is somewhat of a polarized step in the skincare community. Some swear by doing it twice a day while others won’t even touch the stuff. I have to say, though, if you deal with acne or enlarged pores, dermatologists say it could be one of the most beneficial things to add to your skincare routine if you’re not doing it already. Using an exfoliating toner can help clear blocked pores, remove dead skin, and regulate oil production. Board-certified dermatologist, Brendan Camp, MD, says, “Look for [a toner] that helps remove residual oil and prevents the formation of blocked pores without drying the skin. In addition, toners that offer antibacterial benefits and exfoliating properties may help treat and prevent new acne blemishes.”

Personally, I fall into the “swear by it” camp. Using an exfoliating toner is one of the key things that helps keep my skin clear. My skin is sensitive so I often use gentle formulas, but board-certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, MD, also gave me a little advice on what kind of ingredients to look for in a toner. “Salicylic acid is wonderful in so many ways. It unclogs pores, removes and regulates oil, exfoliates dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, and minimizes the appearance of pores,” she says. “Glycolic acid is another powerhouse ingredient as it helps fade hyperpigmentation left over from acne breakouts. It also brightens the skin and smooths the skin’s texture. Succinic acid is antibacterial and gentle on the skin. It also helps regulate oil production and reduces inflammation.”

For more derm-recommended toners for acne and the formula that I can’t live without, keep reading below.

I’ve used this Paula’s Choice toner for years and it’s one of those products that will probably never leave my shelf. My skin is normally really sensitive, but this formula with 2% salicylic acid works really well for any breakouts I might have and doesn’t cause irritation. I always notice that when I use it consistently every day, my skin clears up in a matter of weeks. This solution leaves it soft, more even-toned, blackhead-free, and brighter with green tea leaf extract. And I’m not the only one who thinks so, thousands of other reviewers on retailers like Amazon and Dermstore agree. Reviewers also rave about how it has helped significantly clear up their skin and even how well it works as a spot treatment.

“This is a gentle toner with succinic acid, hydrating vitamin B5 panthenol, and licorice root extract which helps with brightening the skin and reducing inflammation. It’s also safe and tolerable for daily use and all skin types.”—Shirazi

“These easy-to-use exfoliating discs with both glycolic and salicylic acid are formulated with camellia sinensis, a potent antioxidant to hydrate the skin and reduce inflammation. My patients also love these for after workouts on the face or body.”—Shirazi

“The alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids in this toner help to exfoliate dead skin cells and clean out oil from pores, respectively. The result is refreshed skin with a smooth texture.”—Camp

“The ingredients in this pore-minimizing toner are oil absorbing and mattifying, leaving skin clearer and less congested.”—Camp

“A toner for those with dry or sensitive skin, this product contains glycerin to hydrate and mineral-rich volcanic water to fortify the skin.”—Camp

“Because irritated skin can be a feature of acne, this toner helps to clean the skin while calming it and reducing any associated background redness.”—Camp

“This alcohol-free toner is appropriate for all skin types and includes emollients like squalane, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, and vitamin E to help maintain the integrity of the skin barrier, which may be disrupted by harsh acne treatments.”—Camp

This is one of my all-time favorite gentle decongestants on the market. I’ve sung its praises before and for a few good reasons. Not only does Decalt clear congestion deep within the pores, but it also helps mend the skin barrier all with little to no stinging or burning. 

This cult-favorite toner from renowned French brand Biologique Recherche is loved by estheticians for its ability to gently speed up the skin’s natural exfoliation cycle. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s also totally worth it for acne-prone skin.

This is a pretty strong glycolic acid toner that isn’t for the faint of heart, but if your skin responds well to it, it can really clear things up in record time. 

This toner is one of Glow Recipe’s bestselling products. It’s loaded with watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid, and cactus water to hydrate, but there’s also a healthy dose of acne-fighting BHAs and PHAs to gently exfoliate the skin.

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