This was my first foray into "acid toning," and it really set off my journey into experiencing skincare as a ritualistic process, as well as something that became a pastime. It became part of my routine - I began doing more than just cleanse and moisturize. Now that I've experienced other acid-based products, I don't reach for this one as often because I think there are truly better options on the market.
With that said, I always keep this waiting in the wings because it works. It does leave the skin smoother and brighter than before, and it gets the job done. I think it's low enough in the concentration of acid for daily use, but the alcohol or fragrance could be what causes any irritation you might experience.
Claims (Taken from ClarinsUSA.com):
Clarins’ gentle exfoliating toner brightens, smoothes, and balances skin—for a radiant complexion. Tamarind extract rids skin of dry, flaky surface cells. White Nettle extract refines enlarged pores. Helps prevent the build-up of pore-clogging debris—encouraging cellular renewal and soft, healthy-looking skin.
Use once or twice a week in the morning or evening. After cleansing, soak two cotton pads with Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner and smooth over face and neck. Avoid eye area. Wait 1 minute before applying your usual skin care treatments.
Tamarind fruit acids: eliminates impurities and dead skin cells, boosts cellular renewal. White Nettle extract: tightens pores.
Water, alcohol, glycerin, butylene glycol, tromethamine, glycolic acid, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, tartaric acid, cellulose gum, arginine, tamarindus indica extract, disodium edta, salicylic acid, lamium albium flower extract, parfum/fragrance, sambucus nigra flower extract, hydrolyzed opuntia ficus-indica flower extract, phenoxyethanol, sorbic acid, mimosa tenuiflora bark extract, sodium benzoate, ethylhexylglycerin, potassium sorbate, benzyl salicylate, geraniol, citronellol, benzyl benzoate, butylphenyl methylpropional, hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde, limonene, hexyl cinnamal (V1963A)
A few gripes:
First, alcohol. It doesn't need to be in there, and so high on the list. You can definitely notice that it's there when you apply it. However, form your own opinion about the ingredient itself in terms of cosmetic use.
Second, the salicylic acid is quite minimal on the list. It doesn't have excessive potency, but possibly enough to make a difference
Fragrance. High on the list. Again, not necessary. The fragrance doesn't linger, but it's definitely there. This isn't uncommon with Clarins products, as we know. However, I adore the way this smells.
The claims. "Tamarind eliminates dead skin cells." It might, but the glycolic is what will do that in this formula. "White nettle tightens pores." It might, but the alcohol and traces of salicylic will do that. I find it so interesting (to say the least), that Clarins really makes no mention to the AHAs and BHAs in the formula. It's only about the plants. Which is great, but give the spotlight to the ingredients that are doing most of the grunt work in the formula.
The funny thing is that, considering all of the formulary pitfalls, I still love this. It still performs. Skin still feels smoother, looks a bit more even in tone, and is effectively exfoliated, albeit not as much as it would if you were to use Sunday Riley Good Genes or Paula's Choice Weekly Resurfacing Treatment, per se.
Is this the exfoliating toner to end all exfoliating toners? No.
Is it still a good product worth considering? Yes. Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner
$39 for 4.2 fl oz