The Gloss Report: 8 exfoliating toners reviewed

15 July 2015
Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

1 / 9

The Gloss Report: 8 exfoliating toners reviewed

As the skincare fans amongst you probably know, exfoliating toners are all the rage. This relatively new category of product may be applied in the same fashion as your traditional toner - swept over the face with a cotton pad post cleansing - but offers so much more than an old school toning product. Exfoliating toners work by sloughing away dead skin cells to rid your skin of fine lines and blocked pores and consequently reveal a brighter, smoother complexion. Often calling on the help of acids such as glycolic and salicylic and much less harsh on the skin than a physical exfoliant, did they live up to the hype? Click through to discover our verdict...

2 / 9

Alpha H Liquid Gold

Price: £33.50

Buy online 

Feedback: “With such an opulent name, I immediately expected great things from Liquid Gold, not least because its face saving reputation precedes it. Adored by those in the know in the beauty world, this exfoliating night treatment may be celebrating its fifteenth birthday this year, but it sure hasn’t lost its golden touch, so to speak. The star ingredient is glycolic acid, which works to clear dead cells from the skin’s surface, and the formula also causes the skin’s pH to drop, thus accelerating the production of collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin. Basically, your skin’s in sixth gear and has revved up its repair work in terms of sun damage, ageing, scars, blemishes, huge get the picture. I’ve been using this every other night as instructed, and while it’s bizarre not following a tingly toner with a moisturiser, the results reassure me that it’s enough of a treatment in itself- after a week or so my skin was definitely smoother and clearer, although expect some patches of redness when you first get to grips with it. It’s unbelievably quick and easy, and I’d imagine that it could save facial fans a fortune in spa fees, just don’t get too carried away- overdosing or applying every day is likely to anger skin rather than ‘anti-age’ it.”

Reviewer: AH

Score: 9/10

3 / 9

RMK Skin Tuner Smoother Moist

Price: £32

Buy online

Feedback: “Any beauty buff who knows their stuff will tell you that when it comes to clever, state-of-the-art skincare, Asia is always one step ahead of the game - a truth that can definitely be applied to this RMK Skin Tuner. After cleansing I gently patted and rubbed a couple of pumps into my skin. With a syrupy texture it’s a little thicker than the average toner/liquid exfoliator, but did leave my complexion feeling smooth, plump and dewy. It’s in fact designed to adjust the hydration levels of your skin so that it remains at the optimum level throughout the day (of course), which I can safely say it did - with there being not the usual dry patch in sight. The level at which is was able to buff away dirt and dead skin I’m not sure - the immediate effect wasn’t obvious. However, opting for something more gentle and low key such as this product may be a better option for sensitive skin types who find facial beads a little too rough. The delicate citrus scent and chic, iridescent packaging helped pull this product together, and made it an absolute joy to use.”

Reviewer: KR

Score: 8/10

4 / 9

Pixi Glow Tonic

Price: £18

Buy online 

Feedback: “Refreshingly alcohol free, Glow Tonic gets it glowy mojo from astringent witch hazel and our good friend glycolic, which sweeps away dead skin cells without taking off your whole face. Aloe soothes and calms tingly skin, while horse chestnut is added to give you circulation a kick, rounded off with ginseng to oxygenate skin cells. It sounds like quite the cocktail, and as skin drinks go, I love this. I used it once a day, every day, to the very last drop, and it smoothed my skin and shrunk lurking blemishes with continual use. I’d be tempted never to use a scrub again if I had a lifetime’s supply of this- it improves skin condition no end and I experienced none of the redness, surface damage or irritation that physical exfoliators have been known to trigger. Quite literally a glowing review- I know it’s a hyped product but I have no nits to pick here.”

Reviewer: AH

Score: 10/10

5 / 9

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 for Dry / Combination Skin

Price: £16.50

Buy Online

Feedback: “Exfoliating has always been a central part of my skincare routine, but most exfoliating scrubs are so harsh they can only be used twice a week. This lotion from Clinique is a brilliant alternative; it’s gentle enough to use first thing in the morning and last thing at night without drying out your skin. I found it worked brilliantly at smoothing out imperfections and gently buffing away any dry, flaky patches caused by healing breakouts. The bottle is huge, so it’s definitely value for money. I’ve also recently become concerned about the environmental impact of plastic microbeads in exfoliating products, so it’s good to feel I’m not washing any nasties into the water system (although you do have to apply it with a cotton ball, so not completely enviro-friendly). The only downside is the strong waft of alcohol you get on application. Part of Clinique’s appeal is that they don’t include irritating synthetic perfumes in products, but in this instance I feared I may knock myself out from the fumes. Good for prepping your skin, bad for hangovers or convincing your housemates you’re not doing shots in the bathroom at 7am on a Tuesday.”

Reviewer: IB

Score: 7/10

6 / 9

Estée Lauder Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Toning Lotion/Refiner

Price: £22.50

Buy online

Feedback: “A year ago, I performed a skincare intervention - the number of steps in my day and night regimes was bordering on the ridiculous. One of the casualties of my new season downsize was my toner as to be honest, I didn’t think it was really doing anything that my cleanser wasn’t already. However, after testing this particular toner out and seeing the amount of grime removed on my cotton pad I’m thinking my decision may need revising. Well, for the summer anyway.

With my skin feeling particularly congested thanks to the recent stint of humidity and horrendously sweaty commuting conditions on the London Underground, this toner/exfoliator hybrid acted a great daily deep clean to satisfyingly swipe away any residual dirt and makeup that my cleanser had missed. My skin felt refreshed and super smooth afterwards, with zero tightness or dryness. It’s acted as a great way to soup up my summer skincare regime and made me perhaps more wary of applying blanket bans instead of adapting my regime to suit the seasons and my changing skin needs. It’s also made me start to think whether my cleanser may need an upgrade too…”

Reviewer: AM

Score: 9/10

7 / 9

Clarins Exfoliator Brightening Toner

Price: £25

Buy online

Feedback: “Staying well clear of traditional exfoliators for fear they will aggravate my sensitive skin the idea of a liquid exfoliator appealed. This option from Clarins has a pleasingly silky and smooth consistency and provides a refreshing additional step into my nighttime skincare regime. Super gentle, the low percentage of acids meant there was no sting yet the morning after using my skin felt significantly smoother and softer. Only time will tell if the brightening claims will come to light but for now this is a product I will be adding to my skincare arsenal."

Reviewer: EB

Score: 9/10

8 / 9

Ren Clarimatte Clarifying Toning Lotion

Price: £13

Buy online

Feedback: “As a big fan of Ren’s no nasties products and in particular the mask in this very range, I was intrigued to try the toner. Sweeping over my face post cleansing there was no sting or tingly sensation present yet it left my skin feeling satisfyingly squeaky clean. I always think the real test is how your skin looks the next morning and this passed with flying colours - my skin definitely felt smoother and my pores a bit tighter. Free from stronger acids often present in exfoliating toners this will probably not change your skin as dramatically as a more acidic toner, but is a great affordable option for combination skin types looking for a gentle introduction to this category of skincare.”

Score: 8/10

Reviewer: EB

9 / 9

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Lotion

Price: £11

Buy online

Feedback: “A cooling and refreshing treat for the skin, this toner is the perfect antidote to a long day (or night) in heavy makeup. Leaving my skin feeling cleaner than clean, this toner is ideal for oily skin types and although I won’t be using this product everyday will work perfectly in my skincare regime on a weekly basis.”

Reviewer: FD

Score: 9/10