Alpha Skin Care's Clarifying Toner has an old school formula…and not in a good, nostalgic way. The first red flag? A high concentration of alcohol (the second ingredient) poses a risk for all skin types (see More Info to learn why). The alcohol is joined by witch hazel and, shortly thereafter, menthol—both of which can incite pro-aging inflammation.
By the way, for those curious, the pH of this formula is too high for the glycolic acid to function as an exfoliant—a surprising shortcoming from a brand that normally gets this critical issue correct.
Long story short: Leave this one off your beauty shopping list and check out our Best Toners list for options that can truly improve skin.
- Irritating blend of alcohol, witch hazel and menthol spells trouble for all skin types.
- Contains almost no beneficial ingredients for skin.
A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Gentle cleansing for healthy, radiant skin. For normal to oily skin types. Free of oils, fragrances and parabens. pH Balanced.
Known primarily for their well-formulated AHA products, Alpha Skin Care (formerly Alpha Hydrox) recently got an impressive image update. Along with a new name, they've also revamped their products. Although the improvements were more visual and packaging-related than formulary-driven, the fact remains that Alpha Skin Care has a formidable range of effective AHA products, all with definitively researched glycolic acid. Kudos to the company for continuing to be direct about the AHA content (and pH) of their exfoliants, something most other lines selling AHA products prefer to keep a mystery.
Should the folks behind this brand choose to go back to the drawing board once again, they would do well to reconsider their current jar packaging if they intend to keep adding antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients to their efficacious but still predominantly basic products. Until then, you can rely on Alpha Skin Care for supplying AHA products that really work, and a few other surprises too, all affordably priced and readily available.
For more information about Alpha Skin Care, call 1-800-447-1919 and select option 1 or visit www.neotericcosmetics.com/.
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.