I have a confession to make: I too am guilty of being a card carrying member of the Church of Caroline Hirons. Her wit and guides are a breath of fresh air in the beauty world so I find myself hanging on every word she says. For those who are similar members of this growing cult, you’ll know that Caroline is a huge advocate for: retinols and acid toners. She swears by them and these two product categories are what I would say are the cornerstone of a Caroline Hirons regimen.
The first time I heard acid toners, it just sounded abrasive and reminded me of those astringent toners from yesteryears when I was using strong chemicals to rid my skin of acne. Despite the unpleasant memories, hearing Caroline talk about acid toners made me want to give it a go again. I started my search by identifying the acids: lactic acid or glycolic acid. The first thing I noticed was the prevalence of drying and irritating alcohols that I know do not work with my skin, or the abundance of preservatives. I also didn’t want something TOO abrasive which knocked out Biologique’s P50 toner which contains phenol – yikes! After some meaningful searching, I found Somme Institute’s Transport Pads which had the best ingredients list I found and not to mention are raved about on Into The Gloss ( see here, here, and here).
What it is
An exfoliator/acid toner that purports to unclog blocked pores, and exfoliate dead skin cells with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic Acid) while delivering “highly engineered Vitamins” through the patented molecular dispersion technology. Each jar contains 50 completely saturated soft cotton treatment pads.
What’s in it?
Water, Glycolic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Green Tea Extract, Ethoxydiglycol, Ammonium Glycolate, Molecular Dispersion Technology (MDT5), Panthenol, Chamomile Extract, Aloe Powder, Menthol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Grape Seed Extract, Palma Rosa Extract, Ylang Ylang Extract, Jasmine Extract, Geranium Extract, Lavender Extract, Marigold Extract, Galbanum Extract
As you can see this is not a green product by any means, but compared to everything else out there for acid-toners, this is one of the best in terms of being alcohol-free, contain high levels of acids (glycolic is listed 2nd), and there are pretty good ingredients like Green Tea, the Vitamins, Chamomile, Aloe, Grape Seed, Palma Rose, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Geraniu, Lavender, Marigold. Oddly – these pads don’t really smell of anything so I think these extracts might just be that and not essential oils.
The first time I used it, I loved how soft and gentle the pads were (tip: you can cut the pads in half to extend usage because one full pad is MORE than enough for the entire face). I felt little tingling/stinging sensations that were tip toeing around being uncomfortable and entertaining in that “it’s working!” sort of way. The Somme Institute rep told me that skin will purge so I might experience dryness, oiliness or break outs. I’m pleased to say I didn’t experience any break outs or dryness – but I did notice excess oiliness the first few times which indicates “unclogging” of pores. Over time these immediate side-effects subsided and I was able to swipe these gentle pads without really feeling anything.
I think acid toners are beneficial in a routine but unnecessary as an everyday product (unless you don’t properly cleanse – so oil cleanse only fans, look into this!). I spoke to The Green Derm to check this observation and he agreed: “Our skin is perfectly able to naturally turn over cells, exfoliating products are good for helping out but shouldn’t be used more than 1-2 times a week otherwise it’s just excessive and you’re going to have declining returns in results.” Sure enough, I noticed daily usage made me wonder if the pads were losing their effectiveness but following Green Derm’s advice, when used once a week, I always notice a “deep clean” feel and slight tingling indicating there were indeed pores to unclog and dead skin cells accumulated if given enough downtime in between.
For an acid-toner, this was really gentle thanks to the alcohol free formula and inclusion of soothing botanical ingredients. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an acid-toner and fully believe this is one of the best on the market right now.
Somme Institute Transport Pads are apparently the stand out product in the entire line and I think it will be my staple acid-toner. At $58.00 for 50 treatment pads (which can be cut to double the use), I found Somme Institute’s Transport Pads to be a good investment.
Anyone else use an acid-toner in their routine? How often do you use it? Any other products I should also consider?