e.l.f.’s SuperTone Toner has the basic principles of what it takes to make a great exfoliating toner down– then throws that potential away with some bad-for-skin ingredients.
Housed in a colorful frosted yellow bottle, this fluid is lightweight and absorbs quickly, with no sticky or greasy residue.
Front and center among its ingredients is glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid with years of research proving its ability to rejuvenate skin by means of hydration and exfoliation. We contacted e.l.f. about the specific percentage of AHA included but were told it was a trade secret; even so, from its positioning in the ingredient list, we suspect it’s likely an effective amount.
Even better: it’s formulated here at a pH of 3.55, which helps exfoliation occur (the optimal range is between 3 and 4). You’ll likely see improvement in the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage.
The rest of the ingredient list isn’t that impressive, though; there’s soothing aloe and skin replenishers glycerin and sodium PCA, but not much in the way of antioxidants or skin-restoring ingredients.
The pared down ingredient list isn’t a deal breaker, but what is troubling is the inclusion of witch hazel water and lemon peel oil. Both are irritants, which put skin at risk for damage, especially if used on a frequent basis. The lemon peel oil is listed as a “glow-inducing fruit acid,” but its potential risks outweigh any benefits it might offer.
Even though products labeled as “toners” have a history of problematic ingredients (mainly, the drying kind of alcohol), you should know that the best toners (and AHA exfoliants) skip the irritants to give skin exactly what it needs, and none of what it doesn’t – which is unfortunately not the case here.
- Lightweight texture isn’t greasy or sticky.
- Includes proven glycolic acid at an amount and pH that’s optimal for exfoliation.
- Includes irritating witch hazel water and lemon peel oil.
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
Dull, lackluster skin, meet SuperTone, a gentle daily face toner that helps remove dead skin cells to reveal a more radiant, bright complexion. This chemical exfoliant is powered by glow-inducing fruit acids with low pH that help tone, balance, and clear skin.
e.l.f. (it stands for which stands for Eyes, Lips, Face) was founded by Scott Vincent Borba and Joseph Shamah. The story goes that one day Borba was shopping in a dollar store and noticed women dressed in designer clothing and sporting designer handbags loading up their baskets with inexpensive nail polish, eye pencils, and lip balm. He took note of the products being sold in such stores and quickly decided he could offer products of even higher quality at the same competitive price. His idea paid off, as e.l.f. has enjoyed continued success and increased distribution online and in retail stores.
For a line offering many products for just a dollar (OK, there are plenty that cost $3 and $5, too), there are a surprising number of hits in the mix (especially the makeup brushes). True, not everything is going to be as luxurious or innovative as some higher-end brands, but overall you're likely to be impressed with what they developed for so little money, and you may just find some beauty bargains!
For more information about e.l.f., call (800) 231-4732 or visit www.eyeslipsface.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.