Thursday, May 28, 2015

MOAR Acid Tone: Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner

I know that I just reviewed a new-to-me chemical liquid exfoliant, the Pixi Glow Tonic. But! But. I've read on multiple skincare websites and blogs that it's more effective to have a few different acid formulas in your routine to rotate, as the skin tends to get used to a given concentration/ acid type. So I decided to pull the trigger on an acid toner I'd had on my wishlist for a while, the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner ($39 for 125 ml/ 4.2 fl oz).
This acid toner used to be part of the Clarins HP Brightening range, but I guess it was reformulated and re-released under a slightly different name; interestingly enough, I couldn't find it on Nordstrom, so I just waited for a free shipping offer and got it from instead. I was really interested in testing it out even though it's not the best value for money, and what's more contains alcohol and fragrance; but I've had good luck with Clarins products in the past (the Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil for Dehydrated Skin and the Extra-Comfort Cleansing Cream), so I went for it anyway.
The acid composition of Clarins Gentle Exfoliator is predominantly glycolic, but it also contains tartaric acid (an AHA from grapes/ wine that's less stable than glycolic and lactic acids) and salicylic acid, a BHA. It does contain alcohol high up on the INCI list, but it also has quite a bit of glycerin, and it doesn't feel drying on the skin - I also don't get the typical alcohol sting, so that's nice. One piece of information I wish I could find on this toner (and nope, Clarins isn't very forthcoming when it comes to real info on their formulations) is the pH level, but alas, it seems I'd have to test it myself to find that out.
As for the most important part, meaning how well it works for my skin, I think it's alright. I do use it about twice a week, as recommended, in lieu of my usual First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads. Maybe I don't use it often enough to notice a dramatic difference, but so far, I haven't seen any added benefit of incorporating the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator into my routine. Sure, it feels nice and refreshing on the skin, doesn't cause irritation or breakouts, smells really nice... But I don't know if I'll pay $39 again for another bottle. I doubt it, actually.

If you're new to liquid acid exfoliants and you're a fan of Clarins products in general, I think this is a good product to try out. However, if you've been using the acid tone step for a while, the Gentle Exfoliator isn't groundbreaking enough to warrant choosing it over another less expensive option. That's just my two cents. Have you tried this Brightening Toner? What are your must-have products from Clarins?


  1. Hey Monika, thanks for the review! I quit toners quite a while back, but now I am thinking about adding one like this back to my routine. Not too sure about the alcohol, but glad to hear it's not drying! My must-have Clarins products are their Golden Glow Boosters! I resisted anything remotely like a self-tanner till I found these, and now they are a part of my daily routine!

  2. Someone else who talks in Lolcat! Love it. Moar please :)

    Reading your reviews makes me want to try the Pixi Glow Tonic. I currently use Paula's Choice BHA, but it does leave that oily feel for a while.

  3. I'm loving the Pixi one, too but this looks intriguing. Sad to admit I may have the old formula... You were meant to layer it under the brightening mask I believe? While not exfoliating, I *LOVE* the green toner they have with Iris on my combination skin. I'm with you on the alcohol and fragrance but for some reason 99% of Clarins anything works pretty well for me!

  4. I am a big fan of Clarins and I haven't got to try this one. I will be checking on this. This seems like a good one.