Find the best glycolic acid toner for your skin type, skin condition, and budget! Overall, my top recommendation is La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution.
Did you know that adding a glycolic acid toner to your skincare routine is one of the best ways to keep your skin looking younger, smoother, and more vibrant?
That's because alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid draw out impurities, resurface skin texture, brighten skin tone, and even stimulate collagen production. (source: Soleymani et al., 2018)
Cleansing your face with a glycolic acid toner also prepares your skin to better absorb subsequent treatments like a chemical peel, retinol serum, or face cream.
But with so many glycolic acid toners on the market, which one is right for you? 🤔
Keep reading to find out!
Here are my top recommendations:
✅ Blackheads / Whiteheads
✅ Clogged Pores
✅ Enlarged Pores
✅ Uneven Skin Texture
✅ Sensitive Skin
⭐ 0.5% Salicylic Acid
⭐ 2% Glycolic Acid
⭐ Thermal Spring Water
👍 6.76 oz Value Size
👍 Oil-Free / Fragrance-Free
🏆 Extraordinary Reviews
🏆 2,000+ Ratings!
A few years ago, I stumbled across La Roche-Posay after falling in love with Cicaplast Balm B5.
(I literally achieved glass skin using this face cream 😀)
To my surprise, La Roche-Posay was very affordable, no more than your average drugstore brand.
And yet, this company always provides amazing formulas that are gentle yet effective and safe for sensitive skin.
That's why I recommend Effaclar Clarifying Solution as the best glycolic acid toner for most skin conditions.
With 0.5% salicylic acid and 2% glycolic acid, this toner is excellent for refreshing tired skin, purifying clogged pores, and reducing the appearance of acne.
Using a daily toner, especially one with both AHA/BHAs, helps regulate oily skin by removing excess oils, dirt, makeup, and dead skin cells to avoid clogging pores, preventing future blemishes and breakouts.
Effaclar Clarifying Solution may help smooth skin texture and shrink enlarged pores as well, but keep in mind that 2% glycolic acid is a low concentration, so don't expect dramatic results.
Finally, the last key ingredient is thermal spring water from La Roche-Posay, France, rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium, but most importantly selenium.
Research funded by thermal spring water companies (La Roche-Posay, Avène, Uriage, Vichy) has shown that the natural minerals in spring water have anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial for inflammatory skin diseases like acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
(sources: Seite, 2013 and Merial-Kieny, 2011)
My Verdict: With 2,000+ reviews, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution is my #1 pick with an amazing formula of 0.5% salicylic acid, 2% glycolic acid, and thermal spring water that will help you reduce breakouts, minimize pores, and improve skin texture, all for just $15. 👍Shop Now
✅ Brighter Skin
✅ Smoother Skin
⭐ Aloe Vera
⭐ Glycolic Acid
⭐ Witch Hazel
⭐ Ginkgo Biloba
⭐ Green Tea
⭐ Kojic Acid
⭐ Licorice Root
⭐ Capryloyl Salicylic Acid
⭐ Ginger Root
⭐ Natural Oils
👍 Clean Ingredients
👍 Vegan / Cruelty-Free
👍 Made in the USA
👍 Money Back Guarantee
From the makers of the #1 bestselling Meladerm, comes an equally excellent (but lesser-known) facial toner.
Purifying Toner is part of a brightening routine inspired by the massive success of Meladerm for treating hyperpigmentation, dark spots, melasma, and age spots.
(for more info, check out the Starter Brightening Kit which comes with 2 full-size bottles of Meladerm)
Upon reviewing the ingredient list (as I do for every product in my articles), I quickly realized that this toner was loaded with botanical extracts without common harsh chemicals like parabens, sulfates, or phthalates.
Aloe vera, glycolic acid, and witch hazel are all at the top and help hydrate, exfoliate, and cleanse, respectively.
Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree) contains quercetin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, that along with chamomile, green tea, and ginger root, soothes skin inflammation like acne and reduces signs of aging.
Meanwhile, kojic acid and licorice root are powerful and natural skin brighteners that inhibit melanin and fade dark spots (both are found in Meladerm as well).
Finally, capryloyl salicylic acid (a.k.a. lipohydroxy acid or LHA) is a derivative of salicylic acid that slowly penetrates the skin and stimulates cell renewal while natural oils like jojoba and argan moisturize and nourish with vitamins A and E.
All Civant Skin Care products are vegan, cruelty-free, made in the USA, and come with an industry standard 30-day money back guarantee.
On the other hand, Civant Skin Care did not disclose the glycolic acid percentage, which means it's likely very low (1-2%). The formula does include alcohol which may cause skin dryness.
My Verdict: If you're looking to add a powerful toner to your brightening skincare routine, Civant Skin Care Purifying Toner is a must-have with glycolic acid, loads of botanical extracts, and natural oils, without any harsh chemicals (except for alcohol, for some reason).
For the best deal, check out the Starter Brightening Kit which includes 2 full sizes of Meladerm.Shop Now
⭐ Glycolic Acid
⭐ Azelaic Acid Derivative
⭐ Malachite Extract
⭐ Salicylic Acid
👍 6.7 oz Value Size
🏆 Professional Quality
🏆 Excellent Reviews
Does your skin need a professional treatment?
Glytone is a brand of dermatologist grade products that specializes in alpha hydroxy acids.
They are best known for formulating their products based on free acid value, which is a more accurate measure of the true concentration of glycolic acid.
(in this rare case, Glytone doesn't disclose a free acid value but we know it's less than 5% glycolic acid)
Enhance Brightening Solution is designed to brighten dark spots and uneven skin tone with an azelaic acid derivative (potassium azeloyl diglycinate) and niacinamide.
Both are melanin inhibitors that slow melanin synthesis or prevent skin cells from receiving melanosomes. (source: British Journal of Dermatology, 2013)
In addition, the azelaic acid derivative has been shown to reduce excess sebum by 32% over a 4-week period. (source: Cosmetics and Toiletries, 2002)
Malachite extract, derived from gemstone, protects against free radicals and oxidative stress while glycolic and salicylic acids exfoliate skin texture and clarify pores.
Unfortunately, this glycolic acid toner is not alcohol-free and a bit more expensive.
My Verdict: Give your skin a professional treatment (or prepare it for one) with Glytone Enhance Brightening Solution featuring a unique formula of glycolic acid, azelaic acid derivative, niacinamide, malachite extract, and salicylic acid, for a brighter and clearer complexion.Shop Now
✅ Wrinkles / Fine Lines
✅ Sun Damage
✅ Acne Scars
✅ Normal to Oily Skin
⭐ 10% Glycolic Acid
⭐ Lactic Acid
⭐ Citric Acid
⭐ Aloe Vera
🧪 pH = 4.5
👍 6 oz Value Size
If you're looking for the strongest glycolic acid toner, Platinum Skin Care uses a full 10% glycolic acid at pH 4.5 for more significant skincare benefits.
This is a great toner to incorporate into an anti-aging skincare routine as glycolic acid helps break down damaged skin tissues like wrinkles and fine lines to stimulate the growth of new, healthy skin.
Hyperpigmentation, such as melasma and sun damage, will also benefit from a regular glycolic acid routine, including a cleanser, toner, cream, and chemical peel.
Aside from glycolic acid, Revitalizing Glycolic Toner includes smaller amounts of lactic and citric acids, plus aloe vera and chamomile to hydrate and soothe skin.
And, if you didn't know, Platinum Skin Care has some of the best chemical peels too, including their #1 TCA peel.
My Verdict: Complete your anti-aging skincare routine with Platinum Skin Care's powerful Revitalizing Glycolic Toner featuring 10% glycolic acid to smooth fine lines and fade dark spots while preparing your skin to better absorb further treatments like a glycolic acid peel.Shop Now
⭐ 5% Glycolic Acid
⭐ Aloe Vera
👍 8.5 oz Value Size
If you've read this far into my article, you're in for a special skin treat!
Pixi Glow Tonic is an award-winning toner (although they don't state which award 🤔) that's available at drugstores, Target, Ulta, and Pixi Beauty.
(I don't recommend buying from Amazon, however, as I've seen many customers complain about knock-offs)
At 8.5 oz for only $29, Pixi Glow Tonic is very good value, considering that you get 5% glycolic acid while most glycolic acid toners don't even list the actual percentage.
I particularly like that this toner is alcohol-free (which was surprisingly hard to find!) but there's still a number of preservatives and fragrances on the ingredient list.
Overall, Pixi Glow Tonic is a fan favorite toner that works well in any skincare routine, especially with energizing ginseng extract to help your skin wake up in the morning!
My Verdict: If you're looking for an old classic that'll keep your skin glowing, Pixi Glow Tonic is an excellent choice with 5% glycolic acid, ginseng, and aloe vera, with 8.5 oz for only $29.Shop Now
✅ Cult Leaders
✅ Cult Followers
⭐ 7% Glycolic Acid
⭐ Rose Water
⭐ Aloe Vera
⭐ Amino Acids
⭐ Tasmanian Pepperberry
🧪 pH 3.5-3.7
👍 8 oz Value Size
👍 Under $10!
🏆 8,000+ Ratings
Of course, it'd be a sin if I didn't include the cult classic, The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution.
If you plan to get it, I recommend buying directly from DECIEM as the prices on Amazon are always higher.
Like most The Ordinary products, this toner has both an amazing formula and an amazing price.
Most notably, it's been formulated at pH 3.5-3.7, which is closer to the natural pH of glycolic acid at 3.83.
The lower pH creates more free acids of glycolic acid (more effective) but increases the risk of skin irritation.
Personally, I've tried this toner before but it always left behind an itchy feeling that made it difficult to leave on.
But with 7% glycolic acid, rose water, aloe vera, ginseng, and amino acids, it's definitely a ton of value compared to competing glycolic acid toners at this price point.
My Verdict: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is a cult classic with an amazing formula and price, not to mention 8,000+ worshippers on Amazon (but buy from DECIEM!).Shop Now
⭐ 10% Apple Fruit Water
⭐ 10% Willow Bark Water
⭐ Mineral Water
👍 5.0 oz Value Size
👍 Convenient Spray
👍 Natural Ingredients
🏆 Excellent Reviews
🏆 3,500+ Ratings!
Have you ever thought to yourself, "why don't they make exfoliating toners in spray forms?"
Well, CosRX actually did and it's quickly turned into a bestselling K-beauty product!
The CosRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner features natural AHAs and BHAs from apple water (malic acid) and willow bark water (salicylic acid).
Add in mineral water, a bit of glycolic acid, allantoin, and panthenol, and you've got yourself a refreshing toner mist to cleanse and hydrate your skin anywhere, anytime.
At 5 oz for around $15, it's affordable enough to apply generously to your face or body to cleanse and refresh before additional skincare treatments.
My Verdict: With over 3,500+ reviews, CosRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner combines natural AHAs/BHAs from apple and willow bark water into a refreshing & soothing toner mist.Shop Now