The beauty secret you weren’t expecting: Acid toning

Acid Toning Sensitive Skin


This has dramatically improved the appearance of my skin. You gotta try it! I’m talking about the wonders of acid toning. And I do it even with my very sensitive skin…

Don’t worry it doesn’t involve pouring acid on your face. It involves toners that are mainly made of glycolic acid and/or lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, ascorbic acid, malic acid (list of acid toners at the end of the post).

Now what the heck is that for???

  • Provides daily exfoliation without using products containing beads or grains (more gentle for the skin yet effective)
  • Reduces fine lines
  • Reduces pigmentation (part of the aging process)
  • Reduces infections / pimples / microcysts (kills off the bacteria responsible for these bad boys)
  • Reduces appearance of pores
  • Brightens the skin


Why adding acid toning to your beauty routine is important…

1) Exfoliation is a key step in a beauty routine and the reasons are:

  • Removes dead cells from the surface of your skin (those might make your skin look dull)
  • Helps the penetration of the serums & creams you use. You may be using the most beautiful face cream on the planet but if you don’t exfoliate, that’s basically like keeping on applying layers and layers of nail polish without never removing it or giving yourself a manicure. Useless.

You may think that you are already exfoliating and cleansing your skin well enough by using scrubs or cleansing with grains in them or, even worse, Clarisonic-type machines. Those things work great to scrub your bathroom floor but we’re talking about your face here, no need to destroy it and those products have to be used with caution. Or not at all. Point made.

Of course, don’t overdo it. What I recommend is to use only one method of exfoliation each day (on top of using a flannel / cloth to remove your cleanser, which provides as well a mild exfoliation). Keep it gentle.

DON’T: use Clarisonic-type cleaning brushes with cleansers with beads and then scrub and then apply an acid toner, your face might fall off. Let’s just keep it to acid toning for all good sake.


  • When to use an acid toner? Right after cleansing your face (before serum & cream), preferably at night. Follow with a spritz of floral water to rehydrate.
  • For whom? Everyone after the age of 25 who wants to improve their skin. All skin types. (FYI, my skin is very sensitive and I’m fine using acid toners, I play with different ones alternating strong ones and milder ones and working my way up, see list of acid toners below).
  • Why? Great way to avoid doing microdermabrasion (which remove the outer layer of your skin, the dull & damaged one, to show a brand new layer of fresh & radiant skin).


2) What you need to know about skin PH

  • PH level is scaled from 1 to 14, 1 to 7 being acidic (1 being the most acidic) / 7 to 14 being alkaline (14 being the most alkaline and 7 being neutral
  • The skin’s natural barrier is called the “acid mantle” and is responsible for keeping in lipids and moisture (we likey) while blocking pollution, temperature changes etc. To work at its best it needs to at a PH of 5.5 (slightly acidic)
  • By the way while I’m at it, the acid mantle is what gets destroyed when over exfoliating with beads, scrubs, cleansing brushes and so on.
  • Due to the way we live and the products we use (soaps in particular) we tend to have a PH that is more alkaline that acidic
  • An acid mantle that would be too alkaline would result in a dry & sensitive skin that ages prematurely (wrinkles & sagging)
  • As if that wasn’t enough, an alkaline acid mantle turns out to be a real petri dish for bacterias to grow, reproduce and cause us breakouts. Lovely. Let’s destroy them, shall we?
  • The solution: make our skin a bit more acidic by using acid toners.

Acid toners I have tried:

  • P50 by Biologique Recherche– this is the mother of acid toners. Quite strong. Used it years back when I was living in Milan. Brilliant. Quite expensive (something around 60€) & quite difficult to get a hold of unfortunately. Can’t find it online 🙁 Got to get my hands on it again. Tips welcomed!
  • Gentle exfoliator brightening toner by Clarins – great product, quite mild but not to be used everyday, reasonably priced.


Acid toners I am currently using:

  • Facial radiance pads by First Aid Beauty – a total must-have. They are quite mild, cheap and can be used everyday. Suitable for all skins especially the sensitive ones. It is THE product to start acid toning with. Very convenient as well as they come in a box of 60 pads. Take one, swipe it all over your face & neck and you’re done. Love.
  • Retexturizing treatment pads by Cane + Austin – quite strong. They are 10% glycolic. They come as a little square towel and are individually packaged when you buy 25 pads (very convenient when traveling) or in a box like FAB when you buy 60 pads  ($1 per pad costs approx. double of FAB). Work wonders on pimples to stop the infection. I have been using them twice a week on average for almost 5 months now. At the very beginning it was so tingling for the first 10 sec applying it that it stinged my eyes as well (only for an instant no worries), now I just feel a tiny tiny tingling. So don’t jump on the big guns straight away. Work your way up.
  • Alpha beta glow pads by Dr Dennis Gross – I’m in love with them. They come as well individually packaged and the amazing thing about them is that they both exfoliate AND self-tan. Exist for the body as well (Apha beta glow pads for body).
  • Good genes by Sunday Riley – well that is not technically a toner, it’s a serum but it does the exact same thing as an acid toner. Use one or the other. Strong. Although I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed cause I was awaiting a big time tingling (announced by all the reviews I read) that never came… This product is fabulous regardless and gives a great radiant boost to your skin. Very pricey.


Acid toners that I have heard plenty about and want to try asap (they are all strong ones):

Bare also in mind that a tiny tingling is totally normal after applying an acid toner, it actually means that the product is doing its magic. Yet it shouldn’t burn nor be uncomfortably stinging.

Patch test on your neck before applying on your full face (you don’t understand the importance of patch testing before you end up at the ER in the middle of the night with a face red and swollen like elephant man – got a massive allergic reaction after a facial at a beautician hence my now obsession for ingredients) so start with mild toners (First Aid Beauty) before working your way up to stronger ones (which by the way should only be used a couple times a week max).

Your skin will thank you for it.

Keep me posted, I hope this was helpful!

Lots of Love.

With style,

x M

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