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Revolution Skincare

5% Glycolic Acid Tonic

6.76 fl. oz. for $ 14.00
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Revolution Skincare’s 5% Glycolic Acid Toner has the making of a good AHA exfoliant – but some formulary missteps keep it far from being among the best options.

This yellow liquid (it gets this hue from the artificial colorant yellow 5) comes in clear plastic bottle. Its lightweight texture absorbs quickly without a sticky residue, letting it work whether applied over or under other skin care products.

What we like about this product is its 5% concentration of glycolic acid, which is enough so that you’ll see both an improvement in fine lines as well as skin texture and sun damage. Even better: it’s formulated at a pH of 3.47, which is right in the optimal range (3-4) for this to exfoliate most effectively.

Acting as support for the glycolic acid are antioxidant gingseng root extract and aloe vera, though neither is present in great amounts. Moreover, this toner’s clear packaging means you’ll have to store it out of direct light because such exposure can break down antioxidants.

Revolution Skincare says the witch hazel water this contains tightens pores, but it’s much more likely to irritate and constrict skin. Naturally astringent witch hazel water contains drying alcohol, which can lead to inflammation that makes pores appear larger, not smaller.

In addition to the witch hazel water, this also contains a moderately low amount of drying alcohol, plus fragrance and extra fragrance ingredients that put skin at additional risk of irritation (see More Info for details on the problems irritation can create for skin over time). In fact, the fragrance is much higher on the ingredient list than either the aloe or the ginseng root extract!

Also worth noting: this contains two foam-producing ingredients (sodium cocoamphoacetate and disodium cocoamphodiacetate) typically found in cleansers (not leave-on products such as this). These are gentle cleansing ingredients when rinsed off, but when left on skin as this product is, could dry it out even more.

Give this one a pass, and select one of the far superior options you’ll find on our list of best AHA exfoliants.

  • Includes a 5% concentration of glycolic acid at an optimal pH for exfoliation.
  • Contains a couple of antioxidant ingredients.
  • Includes witch hazel water and drying alcohol, which put skin at risk for irritation.
  • Fragrance ingredients put skin at additional risk for irritation.
  • Clear packaging means this must be stored our of direct light.

More Info:

Irritating Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, and/or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these irritating ingredients is a major way we unwittingly do our skin a disservice!

Irritating ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems, such as redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increased oil production, and clogged pores, and they contribute to making signs of aging worse.

Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin, without any volatile ingredients, such as those present in fragrance ingredients, whether natural or synthetic.

A surprising fact: Research has demonstrated that you do not need to see or feel the effects of irritants on your skin for your skin to be suffering, and visible damage may not become apparent for a long time. Don’t get lulled into thinking that if you don’t see or feel signs of irritation, everything is OK.

Generally, it’s best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that are known to irritate skin. There are many completely non-irritating products that contain effective ingredients, so there’s no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.

References for this information:
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, pages 28–36
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 379–385
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 257–262
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

This exfoliating skincare saviour works to cleanse and condition your skin. Formulated with Ginseng a brightening antioxidant, Aloe Vera to soothe and condition, and Witch Hazel to tighten pores.

Aqua (Water, Eau), Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Hammamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Poloxamer 184, Dipropylene Glycol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide, Alcohol, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Urea, Sodium Chloride, Parfum (Fragrance), Dehydroacetic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Glycerin, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Linalool, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Sodium Benzoate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Potassium Sorbate, Ci 15985 (Yellow 6).

United Kingdom-based Revolution Skincare is the skin care branch of Revolution Beauty (who also has a color cosmetic subbrand, Makeup Revolution). Launched in 2018, the brand’s founder, Adam Minto, says the line’s ethos is the same as its parent brand; providing inexpensive, fast-to-market options designed for a wide range of people.

This skin care collection isn’t exactly a “revolutionary” concept, per se – the brand has a lot in common with other up-and-comers such as The Ordinary and Good Molecules. All of these products have a focus on stripped-down formulas featuring key ingredients (such as hyaluronic acid, for example) that can be mixed, layered, and alternated in to a complete skin care routine based on personal preference and occasional needs.

Revolution’s skin care products are something of a mixed bag. There are some true winners in the bunch (among them a couple of interesting retinol alternatives), but there are also quite a few missteps. Some of the products contain the skin-drying type of alcohol and irritating citrus extracts. Then there’s the concern that most of the products are housed in frosted bottles that need to be stored away from daylight, since the packaging puts their delicate ingredients at risk of light exposure that can cause those ingredients to lose their effectiveness. Side note: We reached out to the brand several times to inquire about whether their glass bottles have a UV light coating, but we have not received a response so far.

Overall, we appreciate the approach of potent skin care at bargain prices – we just wish the execution were a bit better! You can find our more about Revolution Skincare at


About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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