AHA Toners: The Ultimate Guide

Whether you're shopping for an AHA toner or peel, the active ingredient, alpha hydroxy acids, are key to exfoliating your skin.

**Prefer to listen to our blog post detailing everything you need to know about AHA toners? Use the audio player throughout the guide for your convenience.**

aha toner ultimate guide 2022

As with fashion, there are hot items that become pretty trendy within the world of skincare.  Right now, it seems like exfoliation is having its moment. 

Everywhere I turn, there’s a new exfoliating miracle product that’s supposed to be amazing or a new way you should be exfoliating.  Starting from cleansing brushes to scrubs to enzyme or chemical peels, exfoliation is clearly having its moment.

We are highlighting AHA toners in this post today. Not only do they serve as a way to gently exfoliate the skin, they also improve the skin's firmness and elasticity.

This ultimate guide to AHA toners explains why incorporating a gentle dose of AHAs into your daily skincare routine makes sense.

Why are AHA toners important for skincare?

AHAs penetrate the skin to break down the ‘glue’ holding molecules together. By busting through oil build-up, acne or scar tissue, AHAs help the pores breathe again.

Exfoliation supports the natural removal of dead skin, thus paving the path for rejuvenated skin. This is when that extra glow on our skin emerges! The shedding of dead skin and production of new skin cells is turbocharged by AHAs.

The effectiveness of AHAs is determined based on concentration levels and exposure time. Higher concentrations of AHAs allow them to penetrate as deep as the dermal layer, which is where the kickstarting of collagen production can happen.

However, higher concentrations can also leave the skin more exposed to sun damage. Studies have shown that using combinations of AHAs at lower concentrations may yield the best results, reducing irritation of the skin.

The different types of AHA toners

If you are familiar with AHAs, you may know that there are four main ones used in a variety of skincare products: glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid and malic acid. Each of these vary in source and effectiveness based on concentration.

best AHA toner 2022

While these acids are naturally-occurring, they can also be synthetically produced. Studies have shown that both are just as effective in their purpose.

  • Glycolic acid, which can be sourced from sugar cane, is best known for its ability to penetrate the deepest to support collagen production. Glycolic acid is best used in lower concentrations so as to reduce the potential for sun damage.
  • Lactic acid, which comes from milk sugars, is well known for its more gentle approach to exfoliation, but it also has a great moisturizing effect.
  • Citric and malic acids can be found in fruits. Citric acid is known to increase the skin renewal rate. Malic acids are larger in size, which means it is much gentler in its penetration of the superficial layer.

What's the difference between AHAs and BHAs?

Another commonly used acid these days is BHA, i.e, beta-hydroxy acid or salicylic acid.  Similar to AHAs, BHAs can help exfoliate the skin.  

According to experts, the main differences are:

  • BHAs are oil-soluble and particularly good for oily or acne-prone skin.
  • AHAs are better in targeting well-aging concerns for people with dry to normal skin.

What are the benefits of the SOFFLI Gentle AHA toner specifically?

The AHAs in our toner (glycolic and lactic acids) help remove any excess oils or dead skin that may remain on the face even after washing.  Also, it’s formulated at a pH level of slightly under 4 to balance out and neutralize pH levels on your skin that are likely on the alkaline scale after cleansing.

best aha toner 2022 by soffli

I like to think of toner as similar to that pause between an inhale and exhale of breath – that magical moment that links two critical phases of my skincare ritual. The elegant step that bridges the gap between my cleansing and nourishing phase!

Our toner combines potent AHAs with nourishing and hydrating ingredients like glycerin, vitamin E and our special triple nutritional complex, leaving pores clean and in prime condition to absorb beneficial skincare ingredients.  

The skincare product experience really comes down to texture and smell.  For texture, we wanted a toner that would feel cleansing and fresh but at the same time not feel harsh or overly drying. 

Keep in mind that the main function of toners is to balance, tone and prep the skin. Make sure you use a skin serum and moisturizer afterwards to lock in all the goodness and keep your skin well-moisturized!  

As for smell–it’s fragrance free!  If you notice any subtle scents, know that they are coming naturally from the ingredients and will likely fade quickly after application.

How do I use an AHA toner for the best results?

Based on the information out there, I agree that exfoliation is a key component to any solid skincare routine.  But I also think it’s one of the tasks that most people take too far without sometimes knowing it, and it can cause more harm than good.  Going overboard with exfoliating can take away too much of your skin’s good protective barrier that helps keep moisture locked in. Over exfoliating can cause your skin to dry out and lead to other issues like acne, inflammation, irritation and redness.

You can find AHA toners and peels with 5 or even 10% concentration these days, but in my opinion, for most skin types, that’s way too high, especially if you’re looking for a product to use as part of your daily skincare routine. We’ve found that using AHAs at a low percentage level can be an effective way to gently exfoliate and boost skin cell turnover while avoiding irritation and drying skin out – our Gentle AHA Toner was formulated in this way and is perfect for daily use.

The tell-tale signs of over exfoliated skin are your skin feels dry and tight, you see signs of inflammation, including redness or peeling, or your forehead looks unusually shiny (which can indicate your healthy skin barriers have been compromised).  If you notice one or any of these signs, you should consider using a more subtle dose of AHAs.

How much does AHA toner cost?

Price is one of the aspects of Soffli products I’m most proud about and happy to share with you.  They’re really “pretty” and hopefully affordable for most of you because we cut out middle-men, glossy ads, glamorous models and made them with the intent of sharing with our friends, family and community.

Our full-size Gentle AHA Toner is sold at $28 which is often $10-$20 less than comparable products. In addition, if you get it together with our 16% Vitamin C Serum to use as a powerful morning duo, you can get both at the discounted price of just $60.  

Please try it for yourself and make sure to leave us a review so we can hear your thoughts and continue to improve!

By Minji