11 Top Exfoliating Toners For Smooth Skin

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Exfoliating your skin a few times a week will remove the buildup of dirt, grime, and dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and reveal healthy, radiant skin underneath. 

A woman is holding a bottle of facial toner in front of a mirror.

Instead of abrasive facial scrubs, you can use a milder alternative: an exfoliating toner.

Like other skincare products, exfoliating toners have a variety of formulas that cater to different skin types and address different kinds of skin conditions. To get the most out of it, you must know how to find the right formula for your skin.

Here, we’ll delve into all the toners we love. We’ll also help you find the top exfoliating toner for your skin.

Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner
Editor's Choice
  • Refines pores
  • Rejuvenates dull skin
  • Minimizes fine lines and wrinkles
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50
Premium Pick
  • Exfoliates, purifies, and mattifies skin
  • Formulated for seborrhea and skin prone to keratinazation
  • Available in different formulas for different skin types and needs
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
Budget Pick
  • High concentration of AHA
  • Brightens and smoothes skin
  • Alcohol-free formula

What Is the Top Exfoliating Toner for Your Skin?

Having too many options can get overwhelming, but if you know what to look for in an exfoliating toner, it will be a breeze. So what exactly should you look for in an exfoliating toner?

A Formula that Matches Your Skin Type

Highly concentrated formulas contain at least 8% of AHAs and other active ingredients, and all skin types can use them. 

However, if you like to layer multiple AHA skincare products, you should opt for a lower concentration of active ingredients, ranging from 2% to 5%. 

Layering multiple products that have AHAs may lead to over-exfoliation, resulting in red, dry, and irritated skin. It may also aggravate existing skin conditions.

Adding a milder formula to your routine can help you get the most out of your skincare products.

If it’s your first time using AHAs, you should also look for a mild formula within the 2% to 5% range to prevent irritation. You can use it a few times weekly to see how your skin responds to it. 

Ingredients That Resolve Your Skin Issues

Some of the best ingredients you’ll find in an exfoliating toner include glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and lactic acid, which speed up cellular turnover.

Glycolic acid is the most widely used AHA in skincare, especially in products for acne-prone skin. It has the smallest molecule structure of all AHAs, allowing it to seep deeper into your skin.

Lactic acid, which is also an AHA, hydrates and exfoliates your skin at the same time. People with dry skin benefit the most from it because it helps the skin retain moisture.

Salicylic acid is a commonly used BHA in exfoliating toners. It is great for acne-prone and oily skin types because it exfoliates the skin and clears the pores of excess sebum.

If you’re searching for exfoliating toners for sensitive skin, one ingredient you can look for is gluconolactone. It’s a PHA that is gentle enough for extra-sensitive skin.

Compared to other ingredients, PHAs are less likely to cause irritation and sun sensitivity because they exfoliate the skin from the surface layer and they promote collagen production. 

11 Top Exfoliating Toners for Every Skin Type and Concern

We went ahead and gathered 11 of the top exfoliating toners out there. There’s one for every skin type and concern. 

Hopefully, this brings you closer to achieving healthy, glowy, younger-looking skin without the need for abrasive scrubs. 

1
The Inkey List PHA Toner

The Inkey List’s PHA Toner is the best exfoliating toner for sensitive skin. It contains a low concentration of PHA and niacinamide, allowing sensitive skin types to get a deeper cleanse without irritation.

Key benefits: Reduces blemishes, minimizes redness, locks in moisture

Features: 

  • Has 3% gluconolactone
  • Has 3% niacinamide
  • Has aloe vera leaf juice

This gentle PHA exfoliant can give your skin a smooth, radiant glow by removing impurities in your skin, allowing other skincare products to seep deeper.

 

Formulated for sensitive skin types, the Inkey List’s PHA Toner gently removes dead skin cells and locks in moisture. 

It has niacinamide to help reduce excess oil and improve your skin’s texture. It’s also infused with aloe vera extract, which has healing properties that soothe the skin.

You can add this gentle toner to your morning or night routine. After cleansing, moisten a cotton pad with a generous amount of the formula. Then apply it on your face and neck in circular and upward motions.

2
Biossance Squalane + BHA Pore Minimizing Toner

Biossance’s Squalane + BHA toner is an exfoliating toner for oily skin. Its gentle, weightless formula reduces excess oil production without leaving your skin feeling tight and dry.

Key benefits: Reduces excess oil; refines pores; hydrates the skin 

Features: 

  • Vegan, alcohol-free, and paraben-free formula
  • Non-sticky and fast-absorbing
  • Has AHAs, BHAs, and squalane

Formulated with squalane and BHA, this exfoliating toner combats excess sebum production and hydrates the skin at the same time.

 

This Biossance exfoliating toner contains plant-derived squalane, known for its ultra-hydrating and soothing properties. It removes excess dirt and makeup from the surface of your skin while regulating oil production.

Infused with raw white willow bark, which contains natural BHAs, it can also calm inflammation and improve your skin’s texture.

As part of Biossance’s commitment to clean beauty, this formula is natural, vegan, and cruelty-free.

3
Bolden Skin Brightening Toner

The Bolden Skin Brightening Toner combines glycolic acid, licorice root, and algae extracts to improve hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tones.

Key benefits: Reduces the appearance of dark spots; minimizes pores; hydrates the skin

Features: 

  • Has licorice root and algae extracts
  • Has hyaluronic acid and niacinamide
  • Sulfate-free and paraben-free formula

Formulated with glycolic acid and other brightening ingredients, Bolden Skin’s toner is the best exfoliating toner for hyperpigmentation.

 

The Bolden Skin Brightening Toner is a blend of glycolic acid, licorice root, and algae extracts, making it ideal for darker skin tones prone to hyperpigmentation. 

It has hyaluronic acid to help your skin retain moisture and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also contains niacinamide and witch hazel, which are great for calming irritated skin.

Gentle and hydrating, this formula is suitable for all skin types. It’s best used in your morning routine right after cleansing. 

4
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic

Made with 5% glycolic acid, ginseng, and aloe vera extracts, Pixi Beauty’s Glow Tonic is the best exfoliator for textured skin. It can even shrink pores and hydrate the skin.

Key benefits: Improves skin texture; soothes and hydrates; minimizes pores

Features: 

  • Has 5% glycolic acid
  • Has ginseng and aloe vera extracts
  • Alcohol-free and paraben-free

Pixi Beauty’s Glow Tonic has a 5% glycolic acid concentration that brightens and rejuvenates dull skin. Whether you’re dealing with dark spots, breakouts, or uneven skin, this toner can give you the glow-up you deserve.

 

Pixi Beauty’s Glow Tonic has gentle, skin-loving ingredients that refine rough and uneven skin texture, giving you radiant, younger-looking skin with every use.

The formula has 5% glycolic acid to exfoliate your skin, accelerate cell renewal, and support collagen production.

Pixi skintreats glow tonic exfoliating toner product on top of a white table

Moreover, it contains botanical extracts like aloe vera and ginseng, which also have anti-aging properties that help the skin retain its elasticity.

Natural and alcohol-free, this mild formula is suitable for all skin types. You can add this to your AM or PM skincare regimen.

5
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

Paula’s Choice has a leave-on exfoliant with 2% BHA that penetrates the pores and removes any excess dirt, oil, and debris. It also has green tea extracts that offer anti-aging benefits.

Key benefits: Unclogs and tightens pores; reduces fine lines and wrinkles

Features: 

  • Has 2% salicylic acid
  • Has green tea extract
  • Cruelty-free and fragrance-free

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA toner is a gentle and non-abrasive formula, which is the best exfoliant for clogged pores.

 

Paula’s Choice BHA Toner is a lightweight and fast-absorbing formula. It contains 2% salicylic acid, which unclogs and minimizes enlarged pores. It also has green tea extracts that quell redness and irritation.

Although gentle and non-abrasive, this exfoliating toner is best applied every other day for beginners. You can apply it using your hands or a cotton pad. 

As your skin gets used to the formula, you can build up to daily or twice daily use.

Best of all, it has no artificial dyes or fragrances to minimize the risk of sensitivity. 

6
COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner

COSRX's Clarifying Treatment Toner is one of the best toners with AHA and BHA. It's gentle enough for all skin types and serves as a good base for anyone’s skincare regimen.

Key benefits: Improves skin vitality, removes dullness, clears blackheads and whiteheads

Features: 

  • Vegan and paraben-free formula
  • Made with natural purifying ingredients
  • 0.1% concentration of AHA and BHA

COSRX’s all-in-one formula, which soothes, softens, and hydrates the skin, is the best AHA BHA toner for many!

 

COSRX’s alpha and beta hydroxy acids toner unclogs blocked pores, removes dullness, and restores the skin’s pH balance. It has a 0.1% concentration of glycolic acid and betaine salicylate.

This mist-type exfoliating toner also has skin-friendly ingredients like white willow bark extract and apple water to alleviate skin irritation. 

Its low-pH formula is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It is natural, vegan, and hypoallergenic too.

7
Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

We love Mario Badescu’s glycolic acid exfoliating toner for its mild formula that brightens your complexion without stripping moisture from your skin.

Key benefits: Refines pores, diminishes the appearance of fine lines, brightens skin

Features: 

  • 2% concentration of glycolic acid
  • Has grapefruit extract for rejuvenating dull skin
  • Has aloe vera extract for optimal skin hydration

This Mario Badescu toner is a gentle, hydrating formula that brightens, calms, and rejuvenates dull, tired-looking skin. It’s easily the best liquid exfoliant with glycolic acid.

 

Mario Badescu combines 2% glycolic acid, grapefruit, and aloe vera extract in this mild liquid exfoliant. It is excellent for dry and combination skin.

Gentle yet effective, this formula cleanses and rejuvenates the skin, minimizing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.

Using this toner post-cleanse makes your skin look brighter and healthier. If you want to get rid of dull, lifeless skin, you can apply this twice daily using a cotton pad or ball.

8
Some by Mi Miracle Toner

Mi's Miracle Toner is the best exfoliating toner for acne-prone skin. It can clear blemishes, calm acne, brighten the skin, and keep it moisturized.

Key benefits: Soothes inflammation, brightens dull skin tone, clears impurities

Features:

  • Has AHA, BHA, and PHA
  • Has witch hazel and papaya extracts
  • Cruelty-free formula

The Miracle Toner’s low-pH formula helps you achieve smooth blemish-free skin by taking care of excess sebum and pore issues.

 

The Some by Mi’s Miracle Toner is a light, fast-absorbing formula that contains AHA, BHA, and PHA, making it ideal for acne-care, moisturizing, and soothing skin inflammation.

Its witch hazel extracts ease inflammation and irritation from acne, while its papaya extracts promote smooth, supple skin. It also has a high tea tree leaf water concentration that promotes clear, flawless skin.

Best of all, it is free from artificial fragrances, colors, alcohols, parabens, sulfates, silicones, and mineral oils. 

9
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution 240ml

Our pick for the best budget exfoliating toner is The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. It removes impurities without stripping your skin of moisture.

Key benefits: Improves skin texture, brightens the complexion, unclogs pores

Features: 

  • Alcohol-free formula
  • Has 7% glycolic acid
  • Budget-friendly price

This budget-friendly toner and exfoliator cleanses your skin of impurities, giving it a visibly radiant glow after every use.

 

The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid Toning Solution contains 7% AHA, which can improve your skin’s clarity, tone, and texture with continued use. Its watery consistency shouldn’t feel tacky or heavy on your skin.

What we love about it is that it comes in a big bottle, yet a little goes a long way with this formula. It should last a while if you use it every other day.

However, don’t use this toner if you have sensitive, peeling, or irritated skin. It might be too harsh on your skin if you are prone to dryness.

10
Simplified Skin Glycolic Acid Toner

Since cellular turnover decreases as we age, this toner’s potent formula can give mature skin the exfoliation it needs to keep it bright and smooth.

Key benefits: Reduces fine lines and wrinkles, prevents hyperpigmentation

Features:

  • Has 8% glycolic acid
  • Alcohol-free and gluten-free
  • Cruelty-free and paraben-free

The best exfoliating toner for anti-aging is Simplified Skin’s toner. Its potent ingredient concentration can minimize fine lines and wrinkles, giving you a youthful glow.

 

Simplified Skin’s toner has 8% glycolic acid, making it suitable for mature skin. Since cellular turnover slows down as you age, this highly concentrated formula can speed up that process and reduce visible signs of aging.

This toner has plant-based ingredients like rosemary oil and aloe vera to hydrate and rebalance your skin’s pH.

Gentle and natural, this formula also has no additives, alcohol, sulfates, and parabens. The bonus? It’s cruelty-free too!

11
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50

Biologique Recherche’s P50 acid toners come in various formulas that cater to different skin types and needs.

Key benefits: Balances pH levels, brightens the complexion, regulates sebum production

Features:

  • Gentle daily purification
  • Has lactic and salicylic acid
  • Formulated for seborrhea and skin prone to keratinization

Biologique Rechchere’s Lotion P50 is a gentle multifunctional formula designed to exfoliate, purify, and tone your skin.

 

Biologique Recherche’s P50 series has a wide range of liquid formulas for different skin types and conditions. These acid toners can effectively exfoliate and cleanse the skin to maintain its pH level.

The Lotion P50 has active ingredients like niacinamide, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and phytic acid. It has a light, watery consistency that absorbs into your skin quickly. However, it does have a smell due to its ingredients.

It is splurge-worthy because it boosts the efficacy of your skincare regimen. Plus, it always delivers the results everyone is after.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an Exfoliating Toner?

An exfoliating toner is typically a mild concoction of active ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) that clear dead skin cells and accelerate cell renewal. 

Depending on other ingredients, it may also help clear acne, remove blackheads, and smoothen your skin texture.

How to Use an Exfoliating Toner?

In building a skincare routine, apply products based on consistency: from thinnest to thickest. You use a cleanser, toner, exfoliator, and then a moisturizer.

No matter the formula, you should apply an exfoliating toner at night immediately after cleansing. However, you can also use a toner and exfoliator separately, especially if you only exfoliate a few times per week.

Rather than using your fingers, use a cotton ball or pad to apply the toner to your face because it will help with exfoliation. As you pat the cotton onto your skin, you remove any excess grime and sebum.

Why Use An Exfoliating Toner?

A woman is applying exfoliating facial toner in front of a mirror.

Adding an exfoliating toner to your skincare regimen can tremendously benefit your skin’s health, making it visibly clearer, smoother, and brighter after every use.  

Finding the top exfoliating toner that matches your skin’s needs requires a lot of research and trial and error. We hope that our guide has made this journey somewhat easier for you.

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Author

  • Ashley Pena

    Ashley Pena brings over 13 years of seasoned writing and editing expertise, fortified by her Bachelor of Science in Management. Esteemed in the beauty domain, her content captivates readers with its depth and authenticity. While she navigates a broad spectrum of beauty trends, Ashley shines particularly as our resident K-beauty guru. Her articles are a harmonious blend of passion and profound knowledge, inspiring readers on their unique beauty journeys.

One Comment

  1. bonnie fox says:

    thank you for this informative list i will be using to choose my next toner with all the helpful and detailed information you provided, it is very much appreciated.

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