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The Inkey List

Glycolic Acid Face Toner

3.40 fl. oz. for $ 10.99
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Brand Overview

The Inkey List’s Glycolic Acid Face Toner gets it right when it comes to its star ingredient… but some unwelcome ingredients mean this shouldn’t be your go-to when it comes to facial exfoliation.

This fragrance-free toner has a water-light texture, and comes in an opaque bottle. It’s lightweight enough that it’s suitable to use over or under other skin care products without any problem, and is workable for all skin types.

The main ingredient here is a 10% concentration of exfoliation superstar glycolic acid, which, when well-formulated, can make a significant impact in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as improve the appearance of dullness and uneven skin tone. Even better, this product has a pH of 3.60, which is within the optimal range of between 3 and 4 for exfoliation to occur.

Taking a look at the rest of the ingredients, there’s not very much else here save for some hydrating castor oil and skin-soothing Boerhavia diffusa root extract (both are welcome additions).

What isn’t welcome is the witch hazel water and drying alcohol this contains. Witch hazel water isn’t as bad as witch hazel extract itself, but its astringent nature still has the potential to cause skin irritation. The alcohol, while not in the greatest amounts, still isn’t necessary and can cause both irritation and dryness.

In the end, there are plenty of other products that skip these kinds of foibles and provide gentle exfoliation instead of potential problems.

  • Lightweight, fluid texture works well with other skin care products.
  • Contains a 10% concentration of glycolic acid at a pH that’s optimal for exfoliation.
  • Packaged to protect its delicate ingredients.
  • Includes a hydrating ingredient and a soothing ingredient.
  • Formula would be more impressive with additional beneficial ingredients.
  • Includes witch hazel water, which puts skin at risk for irritation.
  • Contains drying denatured alcohol.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

A 10 percent glycolic acid exfoliating toner that helps to reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines for smoother, brighter skin.

Water, Glycolic Acid, Propanediol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Alcohol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Betaine, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate.

The Inkey List is the creation of Colette Newberry and Mark Curry, respectively the former branding and product developers of the widespread UK-based drugstore chain Boots, which has its own namesake skin care line. As with a number of up-and-coming “indie” brands, the media coverage centers on their inexpensive products with minimalist formulas that tend to focus on a single star ingredient, such as hyaluronic acid, squalane, or retinol.

If you’re wondering about the inspiration for the name, it’s the pronunciation of the acronym “INCI,” which stands for the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, an agreed-upon, regulated list of how cosmetics ingredients should be identified on product labels. Each product has its chief ingredient listed on the packaging with dictionary-style writing underneath showing how the name is phoneticized, a clever and slightly erudite touch.

Though the formulas are somewhat basic, The Inkey List gets its packaging spot-on – all products are in opaque containers, with no jars or clear containers to be found. Fragrance isn’t on this brand’s radar, either--at least not in terms of adding it to their products (which will make your skin very happy).

We’d like to see more complex formulas, but then again such formulas cost more to make, and The Inkey List is mostly a bargain brand. We wrote “mostly” because in some cases, on an ounce-per-ounce basis, The Inkey List costs just as much as some other brands offering the same type of products (like leave-on exfoliants) in larger sizes.

Even with the predominantly one-note ingredient theme, the brand typically includes beneficial ingredients in efficacious amounts and skips irritants, with the exception of a couple a products that contain witch hazel water and drying denatured alcohol.

That aside, the brand offers a good selection of effective products, something we’re always glad to see. The Inkey List is sold exclusively in the U.S. at Sephora; you can learn more about the brand here:

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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