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11 Best Toners for Acne Breakouts

While a toner often isn’t considered to be an absolute essential in a skincare routine, the right formula can make a huge difference – especially if you have acne-prone skin. An expertly crafted formula can not only help remove any remaining pore-clogging makeup, oil, dirt, and debris after cleansing, but can also work to target and prevent breakouts while soothing irritation, balancing moisture levels, and in some cases, brightening and promoting a more even skin tone. If you’re thinking of adding a toner to your routine, here’s a comprehensive guide to the best toners for acne. 

The Best Toners for Acne

BestToners for Acne
OverallBiossance – Squalane + BHA Pore Minimizing Toner
On a BudgetRael Beauty – Miracle Clear Clarifying Toner
For BlackheadsFarmacy – Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner
For Large PoresGlow Recipe – Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner
For Oily SkinPaula’s Choice – Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner
With Vitamin CMurad – Environmental Shield Essential-C Toner
ExfoliatingThe Inkey List – Glycolic Acid Toner
For HyperpigmentationREN – Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic
MoisturizingBoscia – Rosewater Mist with Witch Hazel
BrighteningPixi – Glow Tonic
For BodyThe Ordinary – Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Best Overall:
Biossance – Squalane + BHA Pore Minimizing Toner

This nature-powered Biossance formula chemically exfoliates the skin to dislodge pore-clogging debris while also soothing inflammation and boosting moisture levels.

GoodGlow Score

4.3 /5 4.5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for combination and oily skin types.

Natural

Clean Formula

Toner is non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free, and fragrance-free.

Effective

Hydrates and Soothes

Squalane, cucumber, lavender, and other ingredients improve moisture levels and soothe inflammation.

Natural Exfoliants

BHAs from white willow bark extract works to decongest pores and improve texture.

  • White Willow Bark Extract: Helps unclog pores and manage excess oil.
  • Caviar Lime Extract: A natural source of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), polyphenols, and flavonoids that clears away dead surface skin.
  • Sugarcane-Derived Squalane: Delivers weightless moisture without shine.

Water/Aqua/Eau, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Glycerin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Water, Squalane, Sorbitan Oleate Decylglucoside Crosspolymer, Betaine Salicylate, Microcitrus Australasica Fruit Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Water, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Oil, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Flower/Leaf Extract, Amber Powder, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Sodium Gluconate, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Pelargonium Graveolens Oil, Citronellol.

The Biossance – Squalane + BHA Pore Minimizing Toner is one of the absolute best toners for acne, as it’s able to clarify the skin without causing tightness, dryness, or irritation. The main active ingredient is white willow bark extract, which is a natural source of exfoliating beta hydroxy acids. This ingredient works to effectively decongest pores and get rid of debris that can lead to breakouts. At the same time, it improves uneven texture and soothes inflammation. 

Another key ingredient is sugarcane-derived squalane, a non-comedogenic oil-like substance that quenches the skin with much needed moisture for a more balanced complexion. Caviar lime extract adds additional gentle exfoliating power to the formula, while ingredients like cucumber fruit water, glycerin, and lavender flower water further soothe and hydrate. 

Biossance Squalane + BHA Pore Minimizing Toner Pros:

  • Combines exfoliants with hydrating and soothing ingredients for a clear and healthy complexion. 
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, and clean formula. 

Biossance Squalane + BHA Pore Minimizing Toner Cons:

  • Some reviewers note that it can feel sticky on the skin.

Best Budget:
Rael Beauty – Miracle Clear Clarifying Toner

This gentle Rael toner clarifies to prevent breakouts and enlarged pores while also regulating oil production, reducing inflammation, and hydrating the skin. 

GoodGlow Score

4.2 /5 4.5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for all skin types, including acne-prone and sensitive skin.

Natural

Vegan and Cruelty-Free

Formula is 100% vegan and isn’t tested on animals.

Effective

Calms Inflammation and Hydrates

Gentle toner contains panthenol, licorice root, and other ingredients that support a healthy, balanced complexion.

Protecting Skin

Prevents Breakouts

Succinic acid provides antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties for calm and clear skin.

Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Panthenol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Xylitol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, Sea Salt, Saccharomyces/Rice Ferment Filtrate, Succinic Acid, Glucose, Sodium Hydroxide, Caprylyl Glycol, Fructooligosaccharides, Fructose, Polyglyceryl-10, Laurate, Propanediol, Trehalose, Ethylhexylglycerin, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopherol, Disodium EDTA, Limonene, Linalool

One of the best budget-friendly toners for acne-prone skin is the Rael Beauty – Miracle Clear Clarifying Toner. While many formulas on this list are made with chemical exfoliants, this toner takes a gentler approach. It’s an ideal option for anyone looking for a mild clarifying, mattifying, and calming toner they can use daily. It’s even made to be gentle enough for sensitive skin. 

This dermatologist tested Rael toner is powered by succinic acid (don’t let the word “acid” throw you off – it is not a chemical exfoliant). This antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory ingredient prevents acne and regulates sebum production for a more matte appearance. The formula also features panthenol, which hydrates the skin, as well as licorice root extract, which has anti-inflammatory properties. 

Rael Beauty Miracle Clear Clarifying Toner Pros:

  • Gentle yet effective formula that helps kill acne-causing bacteria while hydrating and soothing the skin. 
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, and synthetic fragrance-free. 

Rael Beauty Miracle Clear Clarifying Toner Cons:

  • Contains essential oils, which may irritate those with scent sensitivities.

Best For Blackheads:
Farmacy – Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner

This purifying Farmacy toner works deep in the pores to treat and prevent blackheads and other forms of acne, while also nourishing and soothing the skin. 

GoodGlow Score

4.7 /5 5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for combination and oily skin types.

Natural

Clean Formula

Non-toxic formula is vegan and cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain synthetic fragrances.

Effective

Soothing and Refreshing

Moringa and chlorella work to calm, refresh, and nourish the skin.

Gentle

Targets Clogged Pores

Salicylic acid and papaya enzymes work together to treat and prevent blackheads and other forms of acne.

  • Salicylic Acid (BHA) 2%: Exfoliates, visibly cleans pores, draws out excess oil, and visibly refines texture.
  • Moringa Seed Extract and Moringa Water: Refresh skin by removing visible impurities and dirt.
  • Papaya Enzymes: Gently exfoliate and visibly clarify, revealing a fresh-looking complexion.

Water/Aqua/Eau, Arginine, Salicylic Acid, Lactobacillus/Papaya Fruit Ferment Extract, Moringa Oleifera Leaf Water, Moringa Oleifera Seed Extract, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Water, Chlorella Ferment, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Gluconolactone, Maltodextrin, Glucose, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate.

The Farmacy – Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner effectively clears out the pores to treat and prevent blackheads and other forms of acne, but does so without stripping the skin of its natural moisture or causing irritation. 

This Farmacy toner is formulated with a 2% concentration of salicylic acid, an oil-soluble chemical exfoliant that works deep in the pores to dislodge and clear away dirt, debris, and excess sebum that leads to blackheads. At the same time, papaya enzymes provide additional gentle exfoliating benefits, working to clear blemishes, reduce shine, and minimize the appearance of enlarged pores. 

In addition to these ingredients, this toner also contains moringa, which refreshes and purifies the skin. Antioxidant-rich chlorella also soothes and strengthens. Compared to the Biossance formula recommended above (which is also powered by BHA), this toner has a lighter texture. This means those with particularly oily skin might find this a bit more pleasant to use. 

Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner Pros:

  • Made with an effective concentration of salicylic acid, which is one of the best ingredients for targeting blackheads and removing impurities.
  • Clean formula that is vegan, cruelty-free, and synthetic fragrance-free.

Farmacy Deep Sweep 2% BHA Pore Cleaning Toner Cons:

  • May irritate sensitive skin.

Best For Large Pores:
Glow Recipe – Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner

This Glow Recipe toner uses the power of different types of chemical exfoliants to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores while improving tone, texture, and softness. 

GoodGlow Score

4.6 /5 5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for all skin types.

Natural

Clean Formula

Toner is vegan and cruelty-free, and made with non-toxic ingredients.

Effective

Hydrating

Watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid, and cactus water improve moisture levels.

Exfoliates

PHA and BHA tighten pores, prevent blemishes, and target uneven skin tone and texture.

  • Watermelon Extract: Hydrates, soothes, and delivers essential vitamins and amino acids.
  • Hyaluronic Acid and Cactus Water: Hyaluronic acid quickly quenches thirsty skin, while cactus water seals in moisture and delivers electrolytes.
  • PHA and BHA: PHA gently exfoliates, while BHA cleanses pores for smoother, clearer-looking skin.

Opuntia Ficus-Indica (Cactus) Extract, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Gluconolactone, Sodium Polyglutamate, Betaine Salicylate, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, Lactobacillus/Watermelon Fruit Ferment Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Brassica Oleracea Capitata (Cabbage) Leaf Extract, Ipomoea Batatas Root Extract, Sorbitan Oleate, Levulinic Acid, Sodium Levulinate, Fragrance/Parfum.

Unlike many other toners that target enlarged pores, the Glow Recipe – Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner exfoliates the face and treats the pores while also adding hydration back to the skin. The result is a clear and smooth complexion that feels comfortable, supple, and soft.

This toner is powered by gluconolactone (which is a poly hydroxy acid), as well as willow bark, which works as a natural beta hydroxy acid. Gluconolactone gently exfoliates to clear away debris and improve texture and tone, while willow bark deeply cleanses the pores and refines their appearance. At the same time, these exfoliants also prevent breakouts. 

This exfoliating formula also features watermelon extract, a vitamin and amino acid-rich ingredient that nourishes while improving hydration levels and soothing the skin. Hyaluronic acid and cactus water also add extra skin-quenching benefits, ensuring the skin doesn’t get dried out by the exfoliation process.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner Pros:

  • Both PHA and BHA work to tighten pores, fight acne, and improve tone and texture. 
  • Made with moisture-boosting supporting ingredients. 
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, and has a clean formula. 

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner Cons:

  • Contains fragrance, which may irritate sensitive skin.

Best For Oily Skin:
Paula’s Choice – Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner

This gentle daily toner from Paula’s Choice refreshes and lightly hydrates the skin while balancing oil production and refining the appearance of enlarged pores. 

GoodGlow Score

4.6 /5 5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for combination and oily skin types.

Sensitive

Gentle

Formula is made with non-irritating ingredients, and is fragrance-free.

Effective

Hydrating

Ceramides and hyaluronic acid lightly hydrate.

Protecting Skin

Balances Oil Production

Niacinamide and hydrating ingredients balance skin’s moisture levels to regulate oil production, which also leads to refined pores.

Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Polysorbate 20, Adenosine, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Oleth-10, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Sodium Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol

While exfoliating toners are certainly great for acne-prone and oily skin (especially ones made with BHAs, like many of the options on this list), I particularly like the Paula’s Choice – Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner for anyone who wants a gentler, non-exfoliating toner. This formula works to lightly hydrate the skin to balance oil production, while also reducing the appearance of enlarged pores, minimizing blemishes, and refreshing the skin. 

This toner is powered by niacinamide, an ingredient that improves uneven skin tone, refines pores, and regulates sebum production. It also helps promote a clear, blemish-free complexion. It’s joined by hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which support the skin barrier and lightly hydrate the skin. Antioxidant-rich chamomile and burdock root extracts protect and soothe the skin. 

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner Pros:

  • Non-irritating formula that helps balance oil production and refine pores while lightly hydrating. 
  • Cruelty-free and fragrance-free. 

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner Cons:

  • Some reviewers complain that the formula stains towels. 
  • Not vegan (contains wool-derived cholesterol).

Best With Vitamin C:
Murad – Environmental Shield Essential-C Toner

This vitamin C-powered Murad toner defends the skin against environmental aggressors and brightens the complexion while improving moisture levels. 

GoodGlow Score

4.7 /5 5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for normal, combination, and dry skin.

Protecting Skin

Antioxidant Protection

Vitamins C and E defend the skin against free radicals.

Benefit

Boosts Moisture

Rice amino acids improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture.

Gentle

Brightens

Vitamin C, licorice root extract, and coneflower extract boost radiance.

Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Sorbitol, Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, Rice Amino Acids, Zinc Aspartate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Phospholipids, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid, Chitosan, Propyl Gallate, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Extract, Echinacea Purpurea Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Sodium Polyaspartate, Benzophenone-4, Polyquaternium-4, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Limonene, Linalool, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Ferula Galbaniflua (Galbanum) Resin Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Green 3 (CI 42053).

If you want to harness the benefits of vitamin C, try the Murad – Environmental Shield Essential-C Toner. This refreshing toner boosts radiance and protects the skin while improving moisture levels, but does so without clogging pores. 

This Murad toner uses the antioxidant power of vitamin C to defend the skin against environmental aggressors. It also brightens the complexion. Both coneflower and licorice root extracts work alongside the vitamin C, helping to tone the skin and boost radiance. 

Vitamin E provides additional antioxidant power, and rice amino acids help improve the skin’s moisture levels. Orange fruit extract is included to refresh and rejuvenate the skin.  

Murad Environmental Shield Essential-C Toner Pros:

  • Brightens the complexion and protects against damaging free radicals. 
  • Boosts moisture levels while refreshing the skin. 
  • Cruelty-free and clean formula. 

Murad Environmental Shield Essential-C Toner Cons:

  • Contains fragrance, which may irritate sensitive skin.

Best Exfoliating:
The Inkey List – Glycolic Acid Toner

This potent exfoliating toner uses the power of glycolic acid and witch hazel to exfoliate the skin while reducing excess oil and pore-clogging debris. 

GoodGlow Score

4.2 /5 4.5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for normal, combination, oily, and dry skin types.

Natural

Vegan and Cruelty-Free

Formula is 100% vegan and not tested on animals.

detox

Refreshes

Astringent witch hazel refreshes and soothes the skin while getting rid of excess oil.

Exfoliates

Glycolic acid clears away pore-clogging debris while targeting uneven skin tone, texture issues, and lines.

  • Glycolic Acid 10%: Provides a deep exfoliation of dead skin cells.
  • Witch Hazel 5%: Helps to control excess oil.

Water, Glycolic Acid, Propanediol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Alcohol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Betaine, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate.

While we’ve covered a few exfoliating toners on this list, a slightly different formula worth checking out is The Inkey List – Glycolic Acid Toner. This toner contains a 10% concentration of glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that helps smooth texture, improve uneven skin tone, and soften fine lines. It also clears away pore-clogging debris that can lead to breakouts and enlarged pores. 

In addition to the glycolic acid, this toner features a 5% concentration of witch hazel, which is particularly beneficial for acne-prone skin. Witch hazel acts as an astringent and also has anti-inflammatory properties. It works to reduce excess oil, minimize inflammation, and prevent acne. 

The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner Pros:

  • Multi-tasking formula improves tone and texture while treating and preventing breakouts.
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, and fragrance-free.
  • Budget-friendly.

The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner Cons:

  • May cause irritation.

Best For Hyperpigmentation:
REN – Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

This gentle yet effective resurfacing toner from REN is crafted with multiple ingredients that target discoloration for a radiant and more even complexion.  

GoodGlow Score

4.5 /5 4.5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for normal, combination, oily, and dry skin types.

Natural

Vegan and Cruelty-Free

Formula is vegan, cruelty-free, and made with non-toxic ingredients.

Protecting Skin

Prevents Breakouts

Willow bark extract refines pores and clears away pore-clogging debris.

Benefit

Brightens and Fades Hyperpigmentation

Lactic acid and azelaic acid precursors work to boost radiance and lighten hyperpigmentation.

  • Lactic Acid (AHA) from Yeast: Removes dead skin cells for a smoother-looking texture.
  • Salicin (BHA) from Willow Bark Extract: Visibly minimizes pores.
  • Azelaic Acid Precursors from Olives: Visibly boost radiance and even skin tone.
  • Aqua (Water), Sodium Lactate, Lactic Acid, Heptyl Glucoside, Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate, Triethyl Citrate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Benzoic Acid, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Heptanol, Parfum (Fragrance), Limonene.

Like The Inkey List toner, the REN – Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic is powered by an alpha hydroxy acid. However, instead of glycolic, it contains a 4.5% concentration of lactic acid, which similarly targets tone, texture, and fine lines, but with a lower risk of irritation. 

In addition to the lactic acid, this formula features grain-derived azelaic acid precursors, which work alongside the lactic acid to fade hyperpigmentation for a more even skin tone. It also contains willow bark extract to refine pores and help those with acne-prone skin maintain a clear complexion. 

REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic Pros:

  • Uses gentle exfoliants and other ingredients to brighten the complexion for a smoother and more even skin tone. 
  • Refines pores and helps prevent blemishes. 
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, and clean formula. 

REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic Cons:

  • Contains fragrance, which may irritate sensitive skin.

Best Moisturizing:
Boscia – Rosewater Mist with Witch Hazel

This refreshing Boscia toner gently purifies the skin while soothing inflammation and boosting moisture levels for a soft and comfortable complexion.

GoodGlow Score

4.7 /5 5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for all skin types.

Natural

Vegan and Cruelty-Free

Toner is fully vegan and isn’t tested on animals.

detox

Refreshes and Purifies

Witch hazel reduces excess oil and prevents acne.

Effective

Boosts Moisture

Rosewater and aloe work to improve moisture levels while soothing the skin.

Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Bark/Leaf/Twig Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Oil, Rose Flower Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Oil, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil.

If you’re looking for a moisturizing toner that is still made to be suitable for acne-prone skin, one of the best options is the Boscia – Rosewater Mist with Witch Hazel. This gentle formula is powered by rosewater, which hydrates and softens the skin. It also has antioxidant properties, and works to soothe the complexion. 

At the same time, aloe vera further works to improve moisture levels, but does so without leaving behind a greasy feeling. It also has potent anti-inflammatory properties, and works to reduce redness and irritation (which is particularly helpful when battling active breakouts).

What really makes this toner great for acne-prone skin is that it still has breakout-fighting abilities. Witch hazel soothes and refreshes the skin, working to reduce excess oil, tighten the pores, and prevent blemishes. 

Boscia Rosewater Mist with Witch Hazel Pros:

  • Gentle, refreshing formula that softens and boosts moisture levels while purifying the skin.
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, and fragrance-free. 

Boscia Rosewater Mist with Witch Hazel Cons:

  • Witch hazel may be too strong for sensitive skin.

Best Brightening:
Pixi – Glow Tonic

This award-winning toner combines glycolic acid with other ingredients to boost radiance while clearing away impurities, soothing, and hydrating the skin. 

GoodGlow Score

4.7 /5 5/5 Product Rating
Skin Type

Skin Type

Suitable for all skin types.

Effective

Soothes and Hydrates

Aloe improves moisture levels while calming the skin.

Protecting Skin

Refines Pores and Improves Texture

Glycolic acid exfoliates the skin, improving uneven texture and refining the appearance of enlarged pores.

Benefit

Brightens

Glycolic acid, fructose, and sucrose boost radiance.

Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Hexylene Glycol, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Hexyl Nicotinate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Biotin, Panthenol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Caramel, Red 4 (CI 14700).

The Pixi – Glow Tonic is one of the most effective toners on the market for anyone looking to achieve a more radiant complexion. This exfoliating toner features a 5% concentration of glycolic acid, which boosts skin cell turnover. It promotes a more even skin tone while smoothing texture and softening fine lines. This is a lower concentration compared to others on the list, which means there’s a lower risk of irritation. Additionally, fructose and sucrose also work alongside this AHA to further brighten the complexion. 

In addition to these glow-boosting ingredients, the toner features aloe vera, which hydrates the skin while soothing inflammation. Ginseng also energizes the skin by improving circulation. 

Pixi Glow Tonic Pros:

  • Exfoliates to brighten the complexion and improve texture.
  • Formulated with hydrating and soothing ingredients. 
  • Cruelty-free. 

Pixi Glow Tonic Cons:

  • Contains fragrance, which may irritate sensitive skin.

Best For Body:
The Ordinary – Glycolic Acid 7% Exfoliating Toning Solution

This toner combines glycolic acid with a range of soothing and hydrating ingredients, and effectively improves texture, tone, and congested pores.

GoodGlow Score

4.6 /5 5/5 Product Rating
Gentle

Lighweight texture

Makes it absorb easily into the skin and deliver instant results

Dissolves dead skin cells

To reveal a brighter, smoother, and more uniform complexion

Protecting Skin

Antibacterial and anti-fungal

Activity helps neutralise bacterial and yeast overgrowth on the skin and reduce breakouts

Skin Type

Best for:

Dark spots, uneven skin tone, and rough skin texture

Aqua (Water), Glycolic Acid, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Propanediol, Glycerin, Triethanolamine, Aminomethyl Propanol, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Aspartic Acid, Alanine, Glycine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Glutamic Acid, Arginine, Pca, Sodium Pca, Sodium Lactate, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Hexyl Nicotinate, Dextrin, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Gellan Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Chloride, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

If you want a toner you can use on the body to treat breakouts and lighten the appearance of hyperpigmentation, I highly suggest The Ordinary – Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. As the name suggests, it contains a 7% concentration of glycolic acid, which works to clear away dead skin cells and debris on the skin and improve texture, tone, and blemishes.

This formula also features aloe and Tasmanian pepperberry, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Additional ingredients further soothe and lightly hydrate, including rosewater, ginseng root, and glycerin. 

This toner also comes in a large bottle and is sold at a budget-friendly price, making it ideal for use on the body. 

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution Pros:

  • Effectively exfoliates to improve texture and tone and prevent blemishes. 
  • Made with supporting ingredients that soothe and hydrate. 
  • Vegan, cruelty-free, and fragrance-free. 

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution Cons:

  • May cause irritation.

How I Reviewed Each Toner

When selecting the toners to recommend on this list, I sought out formulas that work to treat the skin without stripping it of its natural moisture. There are some that contain chemical exfoliants or other active ingredients, as well as gentler formulas that calm inflammation and improve hydration levels for healthier skin. The products recommended below have been tested either by me or another member of the GoodGlow team, and I also referred to consumer reviews to select the best of the best. 

Toner Ingredients to Avoid if You Have Acne-Prone Skin

Everyone’s skin is different, and there are some ingredients that may cause one person with acne-prone skin to break out, but not affect the next person at all. With that in mind, it’s important to avoid some of the most common pore-clogging ingredients, such as coconut oil, algae extract, avocado oil, and lanolin. 

In general, you should also avoid toners that are super harsh on the skin. Traditional toners (especially those made for acne-prone skin) have high concentrations of astringent ingredients (like alcohol, witch hazel, citric acid, and salicylic acid) that strip the skin of its natural moisture. This ultimately can aggravate current breakouts and cause general irritation and dryness, and often will even trigger the skin to produce extra oil to counteract these effects (which in turn can lead to more blemishes). 

While high-quality toners can still contain some of these ingredients, modern toner formulas are typically gentler on the skin, and are geared towards balancing moisture levels and calming irritation as they treat. For example, you’ll still see many toners made with salicylic acid recommended above. However, they’ll also contain soothing and hydrating ingredients, such as aloe, chamomile, hyaluronic acid, and green tea. These ingredients ensure the skin is left feeling calm, soft, and hydrated after toning, rather than tight and aggravated. 

Toner Ingredients that Help Acne-Prone Skin

Toners made with active ingredients like niacinamide, salicylic acid, and tea tree oil are all great for minimizing breakouts and balancing oil production for a clear and healthy complexion. If you’re dealing with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or general discoloration, AHAs (such as glycolic and lactic acids) are also highly effective for improving uneven skin tone. 

As mentioned above, it’s also ideal to look for supporting ingredients that soothe inflammation and redness and improve moisture balance for a healthy and calm complexion. Some of the best ingredients include squalane, aloe, hyaluronic acid, and green tea. 

Can Toners Be Used with Retinol?

As you can see above, there’s a huge range of types of toners available on the market, so it ultimately depends on what you choose. If you end up choosing a toner with active ingredients that have a risk of aggravating the skin (such as salicylic acid or AHAs), you won’t want to use them at the same time. This will increase the likelihood of irritation and dryness. 

On the other hand, if you pick a gentler formula, you can safely use it before applying your retinol. Just be sure to allow your skin to completely dry before applying your retinol product

What is the Best Time to Apply Toner if You Have Acne?

For gentler formulas, you can generally apply the toner twice a day, both in the morning and evening. On the other hand, more aggressive formulas typically should only be applied once a day, either in the morning or at night. If you wear makeup during the day, you may also choose to use a toner in the evening in order to help remove any last traces of makeup. Refer to the instructions of the product you’ve chosen for guidance. 

Are Toners Safe For Fungal Acne?

Yes, there are fungal acne safe toners. However, not all “acne safe” toners are safe for fungal acne. If you are dealing with fungal acne and want to find a toner that will hydrate your skin without worseing your breakout check out this verified fungal acne safe toners list.

Originally Published: January 09, 2024

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Ashley-Wilson-Certified-Personal-Trainer
Analyzed by Ashley Wilson

Hi, I’m Ashley Wilson, a part-time personal trainer, yoga instructor, and mother of three. My journey with hormonal acne started during pregnancy, which led me to natural remedies discussed on GoodGlow like utilizing a low-inflammation diet, dramatically improving my health and skin. After successfully clearing my acne during my first pregnancy I to share my insights on managing acne naturally and maintaining overall wellness on GoodGlow. I’ve adopted a lifestyle focused on nutrition, yoga, resistance training, and meditation, helping me juggle my busy life with kids and work. I’m always eager to connect and share skincare tips, so feel free to reach out!

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