Skin Solutions: Step 2 – A beginner’s guide to acid toning

As I’m getting a bit older (and frankly I don’t think it’s age, its lack of sleep courtesy of child number two!) I’m definitely noticing the signs of aging in my skin. Alongside my problematic breakouts that have dogged me throughout my adult years, it’s sparked a new interest for me, in trying to make the best of what I’ve got. I’m not into cosmetic surgery, or the explosion of fillers and botox that is being widely embraced (yet!) but I am more than ready to dip my toe into the world of more powerful skin care and with that I’ll hand you over to Penny, who has been guiding my way down the skincare rabbit hole. Today, she’s talking acid…


Acid exfoliants are everywhere these days and come in many forms, types and strengths – from gentle lotions to more full-on home peel kits. Today I want to talk about toning with glycolic acid – it is widely available, suitable for most skin types and tends to give results quickly. A glycolic acid-based toner (used post-cleansing and pre-serums/moisturisers) will gently remove dead skin cells, leaving fresh-looking, radiant skin beneath. Those with acne, uneven skin tone and visible pores can hope to see clearer,
more even-toned skin; those with dry skin will benefit too as the acid creates an easily penetrable base for your lovely serums and moisturisers to do their thing. Basically, it’s good news for everyone.

However – it pays to ease in gently. I am guilty of getting excited and over-aciding to start with (my skin type is dehydrated/sensitive so I should have known better) and ending up like a scrubbed ham – not a good look. Don’t be a plum like me – ease in to a regime
that includes glycolic acid, or any active ingredient, by using a gentle product and/or using every other evening to begin with. On first application you can expect a tingle – but it shouldn’t feel any worse than that.

After toning, proceed with the rest of your normal routine. I have learned it’s best for me to follow with a hydrating toner (more of that next time!) and/or hyaluronic serum to pack the moisture back into my dehydrated skin before moisturising. Then always, always apply sunscreen – AHAs increase photosensitivity so this bit is non-negotiable!

A brief side-note: very sensitive types looking for something gentler than glycolic might like to investigate mandelic and lactic acid products. If you have very badly congested skin and glycolic isn’t cutting it – salicylic acid might work better.

Happy aciding!

Glycolic acid toners – Pennys’ top picks

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Toner, £5.95
I managed to get this half price, which it often is. It doesn’t feel quite as nourishing as the Pixi version (see below), but if you’re using other hydrating products then who cares. Absolutely brilliant for the price.

Bravura London Calendula Toner, £12.40
This gorgeous toner combines glycolic and lactic acids and healing calendula

Nip & Fab Glycolic Fix Cleansing Pads, £12.95
You can always find these discounted somewhere – scour TK Maxx, Superdrug and major supermarkets. The pre-soaked pads are particularly handy to pack for travel. For those on a super tight budget – Aldi Lacuna do a decent dupe of these for mere pennies if you can track them down!

Pixi Glow Tonic, £18
Pixi’s fabulous best-seller and my personal desert-island beauty product. Love it.

Alpha-H Liquid Gold, £33
A cult product with a deserved reputation, Liquid Gold is not an everyday toner, but an intensive overnight treatment (product suggests using 2-3 times per week but I tend to use once a week). Excellent for resurfacing, smoothing lines, evening skin tone and brightening up dull skin.

Penny // @BrazFace

I don’t mind admitting, I’ve been using the Pixi Glow Tomic on Pennys’ recommendation for about 4 months now and its definitely made a difference to the frequency of my breakouts and just general skin brightness. I’ve also added in the liquid Gold (courtesy of the M&S Beauty advent calendar 2 years ago!) as a bit of a trial before shelling out on a full size bottle. I’d love to hear your experiences and tips if you’ve got any! – Rebecca x

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