Exfoliation Products

Exfoliating Toner Routine Explained (How-To)

Written by: Anastasija

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Among various different forms of exfoliants on the market, exfoliating toners are the holy grail in many skincare routines, and so many people depend on them for soft, smooth skin. If you want to find out more about what these products are about, read on to find out how to use an exfoliating toner, and more.

What is an exfoliating toner?

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To begin with, it’s important that we establish what an exfoliating toner is, before jumping into the details on how you use one. While some people may even have had experience with an exfoliating toner before, others may not have even heard of the product until now.

In essence, an exfoliating toner is a skincare product which comes in a liquid form and is generally used on the face. The liquid contains a concoction of various chemicals – often acids known as Alpha Hydroxy Acids – along with other skin-boosting ingredients.

Glycolic AcidA type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that helps exfoliate the skin, improve texture, and promote cell renewalSmooths skin texture and reduces hyperpigmentation
Salicylic AcidA beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that penetrates the pores, helps unclog them, and reduces acne breakoutsControls excess oil, prevents acne, and clears pores
Lactic AcidAn alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that gently exfoliates and hydrates the skinImproves skin tone and texture, and promotes radiance
Mandelic AcidAn alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) with larger molecules, suitable for sensitive skin typesExfoliates gently, reduces redness, and evens skin tone
Table 1: Key Ingredients in Exfoliating Toners

While many exfoliating methods and products, such as face scrubs, tend to contain physical particles and take advantage of their abrasive nature to scrub at the skin, an exfoliating toner works a little differently. Instead of exfoliating through physically scrubbing the skin, the magic all happens below surface level, thanks to the acids found in these products.

When you use a physical exfoliant, like a face scrub, the physical particles scrub at your skin to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells, along with any dirt and excess oil or sebum to smooth your complexion. However, with a liquid exfoliant, the same process occurs, but the bonds between the dead cells are dissolved, instead.

Also read: Best Exfoliator for Dry Skin Face (Physical and Chemical)

How do you use an exfoliating toner?

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Now that we’re clear about what an exfoliating toner is, it’s time to take a look at how you can use one yourself. These products are a great addition to any skincare routine, so it’s worth checking them out if you’re in search of smooth, clear skin.

The best time to use your exfoliating toner is at night as this allows the product to work into your skin as you sleep and doesn’t expose your skin to increased UV damage during the day.

Because most exfoliating toners contain a very low concentration of active ingredients, they’re generally safe for use every night. However, if you find that your skin is becoming inflamed, it may be worth applying this every other night, instead.

Step 1Cleanse your face using a gentle cleanser to remove any dirt, makeup, or impurities
Step 2Pour a small amount of exfoliating toner onto a cotton pad and gently swipe it over your face and neck, avoiding the eye area
Step 3Allow the toner to dry for a few minutes before moving on to the next step
Step 4Follow up with a hydrating moisturizer or serum to replenish moisture and nourish the skin
Step 5Apply sunscreen during the daytime to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, as exfoliating toners can increase sun sensitivity
Step 6Start by using the exfoliating toner 2-3 times a week and gradually increase frequency if your skin tolerates it well
Step 7If you experience any irritation or discomfort, reduce the frequency of use or consult a dermatologist for personalized guidance
Table 2: Steps for an Exfoliating Toner Routine

Before you even apply the product it’s important to ensure that your face is clean, and this means your routine should start with a facial cleanser. You can use any cleanser you’d like, depending on your own skin type and skin concerns, and use this to cleanse your face thoroughly.

Once you’ve rinsed the cleanser off, gently pat your face dry using a clean towel. Once your skin is clean and fresh, it’s time for the toner.

When applying the toner, there are two methods you can use, depending on your own personal preference.

The first way to apply the toner is to pour a few drops into the palm of your hand, transfer it between both hands, and gently press it into your skin, all over your face. Alternatively, you can take a cotton round and pour a few drops of product onto it, before swiping the cotton round all across your face, making sure to cover every area.

The second method is generally more precise and easier to control, but it’s up to you how you decide to apply your toner. Once applied, it’s a good idea to allow your toner to sit for a minute or two in order to dry out before continuing with your skincare routine.

When using exfoliating products on your face, you should always make sure that you’re using a sunscreen during the day in order to protect yourself from damage due to the sun’s UV rays. When your skin has been exfoliated, it’s particularly vulnerable to sun damage, so this makes sunscreen an even more important step in your morning routine.

Also read: Best & Safest Exfoliating Tools for Your Face (A List)

What are the best exfoliating toners?

If you’re in search of some of the best exfoliating toners to buy yourself, take a look at our recommendations below.

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic 250ml

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic 250ml, Balancing Face Toner, Glycolic Acid Toner for Radiant Skin, Daily Brightening Toner, 8.5 Fl Oz
1,329 Reviews
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic 250ml, Balancing Face Toner, Glycolic Acid Toner for Radiant Skin, Daily Brightening Toner, 8.5 Fl Oz
  • GENTLE EXFOLIATOR: Exfoliates and purifies the skin with Glycolic Acid
  • SKIN-LOVING INGREDIENTS: Ginseng improves circulation and energizes skin. Aloe Vera soothes and hydrates.

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The Glow Tonic from Pixi Beauty has been a cult classic since it was first released, and it’s still a favourite in so many beauty routines. The formula contains AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) to gently remove dead skin and dirt, leaving your face bright and glowing.

The INKEY List Glycolic Acid Toner

The INKEY List Glycolic Acid Toner, Exfoliator to Reduce Pore Size, Blur Fine Lines and Even Skin Tone, 3.38 fl oz
979 Reviews
The INKEY List Glycolic Acid Toner, Exfoliator to Reduce Pore Size, Blur Fine Lines and Even Skin Tone, 3.38 fl oz
  • The INKEY List Glycolic Acid Toner. Reduce the appearance of pores, blackheads, and fine lines with this exfoliating toner that also gives skin a nice boost of radiance.
  • Smoother Skin for The Win. Derived from sugar cane, the toner works to remove dead skin on the surface and improve skin texture without drying it out.

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If a drugstore option seems more in your favour, don’t miss out on this glycolic acid toner from The INKEY List. As well as the affordable price point, this toner has so much to offer. Its use of the powerful AHA, glycolic acid, at 10% concentration ensures the skin cells are deeply exfoliated to reveal fresh, youthful, and bright skin from beneath.

In addition, the formula also contains 5% witch hazel, at a safe, non-damaging concentration which is still strong enough to take control over excess oil on your skin.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, 60 Count

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads – Daily Exfoliating Pads with AHA that Help Tone & Brighten Skin – 60 Count
  • Safe, Gentle & Effective: A daily treatment pad that contains just the right amount of Lactic and Glycolic Acids to safely and effectively help exfoliate, tone and brighten all skin types – including sensitive
  • Improve Skin Texture: Regular use of these pads will enhance natural glow and provide the perfect canvas for flawless makeup application, and they’re gentle enough to use every day

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Another pre-soaked option, the Facial Radiance Pads by First Aid Beauty have been coined for their fast-acting, incredibly powerful formulation. Thanks to their convenient packaging and design, they’re incredibly easy to use.

One tip we have is to cut each pad in half, as they contain more than plenty to cover your entire face and using half a pad each day rather than the whole thing will make them last twice as long.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant

Paulas Choice--SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Salicylic Acid Exfoliant--Facial Exfoliant for Blackheads, Enlarged Pores, Wrinkles & Fine Lines, 4 oz Bottle
  • GENTLE NON-ABRASIVE LEAVE-ON EXFOLIANT: With 2% BHA (Beta hydroxy acid), to unclog & diminish enlarged pores, exfoliate dead skin cells, smooth wrinkles, and brighten and even out skin tone. Combats redness, wrinkles, aging, enlarged pores, and blackheads.
  • Dramatically improves skin's texture for radiant youthful even-toned skin. Beta hydroxy acid (BHA, also known as salicylic acid) mimics the natural exfoliation process of younger skin by helping it shed extra layers while unclogging and clearing pores.

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Finally, the BHA Liquid Exfoliant from Paula’s Choice is another cult classic, and it’s a staple in so many routines, as people discover the benefits that a BHA toner can bring along with it.

Containing salicylic acid, this liquid exfoliant is great for anyone with acne-prone skin, and also helps to tackle excess oil and sebum production, whilst unclogging pores, too. It’s a powerful formulation that’s gentle on the skin, too.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, it’s easy to see that exfoliating toners are a great option to keep in your skincare routine, and they can boast a huge variety of benefits for very little work. Being quick, easy, and convenient, why not try one of our recommendations for yourself?

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Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

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