Exfoliating Toner: The Best Liquid Exfoliant for Glowing Skin

Exfoliating Toner: The Best Liquid Exfoliant for Glowing Skin

Ever wondered how celebrities manage to get such flawless skin?

We hate to tell you that it isn’t all Photoshop. It isn’t all those pricey facial treatments and countless trips to the dermatologist either.

Their secret?

Liquid exfoliant.

Proper exfoliation can make a world of a difference. Skin that is exfoliated correctly is smoother because it makes the surface flatter. This means that skincare products are absorbed more efficiently. And makeup applies on flawlessly.

You’re probably familiar with exfoliators. In fact, we betcha have one of those store-bought facial scrubs that sloughs away dead skin. But we’d like to let you in on a secret…liquid exfoliators are IT.

What Does Liquid Exfoliant Even Do?

When we think of exfoliants, we think of sugar, honey, and coffee scrubs – nifty jars of thick granular concoctions with fine bits of pumice or sand. Liquid exfoliants, on the other hand, are more fluid than vicious. Almost like water. Like exfoliants we’ve come to know, liquid exfoliants dissolve dead skin cells albeit, chemically. The most common ingredients found in liquid exfoliants are glycolic acid, alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), salicylic acid, and lactic acid. They work by dissolving the “glue” that holds your skin cells together. Once the “glue” is gone, its easier to slough off dead skin cells.

A huge benefit liquid exfoliants have over their granular counterparts is convenience. It clears your skin without the mess. Scrubs (whether the normal or fine variety), tend to leave debris not just on the face but along the hairline as well! Removing every bit of grain is certainly a chore!

And if your skin is quite sensitive, liquid exfoliants are ideal. Granular exfoliants may be too harsh if you’ve got acne, rosacea, or broken blood vessels. Ditto for skin that is prone to hives or blotches easily.

liquid exfoliant infographic | Benefits of Using Liquid Exfoliant

Why Should You Use Liquid Exfoliant?


The word “chemical” sounds scary. But truth be told, sugar bits, ground walnut shells, and apricot kernels are way more harsh. This is because the tiny particles used to manually exfoliate your skin often have uneven, rough (or jagged!) edges. While it's pretty good at sloughing away dead skin and debris, it could also tear and scratch, leaving skin irritated and reddish.

In addition, it's easy to go overboard.

Watching gunk come off is way too satisfying to watch but scrub too long or too hard, and you end up sloughing too much.

feet in bathtub under water | Benefits of Using Liquid Exfoliant


They are multi-taskers. Scrubs can do one job – exfoliate. Components in liquid exfoliants can do more.

  • SALICYLIC ACID removes dead cells not just on the skin surface but inside the pores as well. This component works well for oily or acne-prone skin.
  • GLYCOLIC ACID exfoliates, hydrates, AND encourages collagen production. This component is perfect for sun-damaged or dry skin.
  • LACTIC ACID hydrates the skin because it’s a mild and yet effective exfoliant. Got sensitive skin? Make sure that your liquid exfoliant contains this.


Exfoliating evenly with a granular scrub can get tricky. More often than not, we spend more time on one side of the face. You do get a good scrub, but one side may be more irritated than the other. A liquid exfoliant solves this problem by addressing all parts in the same way.


If you have acne-prone skin, you might want to stay away from physical exfoliants because all that rubbing can easily irritate your already-inflamed skin. With a liquid exfoliant, all it takes is a few swipes with a cotton pad.

How Do You Incorporate Liquid Exfoliant into Your Skincare Routine?

Can you exfoliate everyday?

The answer is NO.

Overdoing exfoliation (whether manual or chemical/liquid) can cause you to look more like a sun-baked tomato than a glowing goddess.

Exfoliating will get you smoother, radiant skin. Regular use of exfoliants allows for maximum product absorption. You get the full benefits of serums, oils, and creams, plus the overall flawless look when you put makeup on.

But you don’t get THAT by exfoliating everyday.

Daily exfoliation strips the skin of its natural oils. The result? Nasty breakouts and irritation. The long-term, negative effects are a valid concern. Over time, overuse of exfoliants thins the skin and causes it to wrinkle more easily. On its own, skin sheds dead skin cells. But exfoliate too often and you can actually slow down cell turnover.

Just how often must you exfoliate?

  • SENSITIVE SKIN = once a week
  • NORMAL & COMBINATION SKIN = two to three times a week

Note that skin is classified as sensitive if it irritates or tends to get red easily. Combination skin, on the other hand, is oily at the T-zone. Cheeks tend to be dry, as well.

Are Liquid Exfoliants Better than Physical Exfoliants?

We personally prefer liquid exfoliants over their physical counterparts. It’s less messy, easy to apply, and a breeze to integrate into your skincare routine.

But this doesn’t mean we are ditching manual exfoliants forever. Let’s get back to differentiating the two.


Physical exfoliants are products that require rubbing and scrubbing. This could mean scrubs you apply with fingertips or a tool that does the scrubbing for you (battery-operated or manual facial brush).

girl touching her head | Benefits of Using Liquid Exfoliant

Examples of physical exfoliants include face and body brushes, facial scrubs, loofah sponges, and cleansing cloths. These products work on the topmost layers of your skin. It speeds up the exfoliation rate and helps keep your skin soft and smooth.

You’d want to go for a physical exfoliant if you expect quick results or if you don’t want anything interacting with other skin care products you use. 


Liquid exfoliant or chemical exfoliants are based on enzymes or mild acids. These ingredients gently dissolve the “glue” the holds dead skin cells together.

Examples of chemical exfoliant include glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, papain (an enzyme derived from papaya), and bromelain (an enzyme derived from pineapple).

Unlike physical exfoliants, liquid exfoliants require zero rubbing or scrubbing. This is great for sensitive and problem skin types. If you’re prone to acne, eczema, rosacea, or dryness, you’d want to use liquid exfoliants. Contrary to popular belief, chemical exfoliants can be gentler than even the mildest and finest scrubs.

glob of product | Benefits of Using Liquid Exfoliant

Liquid exfoliants penetrate through the lower layers of the skin. This allows for a long-lasting increase in natural exfoliation rate. You may want to go for liquid exfoliants if you prefer something quick and easy to use but offers longer-lasting results. As a bonus, liquid exfoliants helps reduce signs of aging.

Our verdict? It depends on your skin care routine preference.

Do remember that both require mindful application and careful attention to skin type.

Our Favorite Liquid Exfoliant EVER

Liquid exfoliants aren’t created equal. We’ve scoured stores and counters for the best liquid exfoliant and our choice came down to just one – Penny and Pine’s Exfoliating Toner.

First off, it's easy to use. Simply apply with a cotton pad and you can forget about it. What we love best?

It works well!

Its mild enough to be used frequently and yet works great at unclogging pores, tightening skin, and reducing fine lines and wrinkles.


Got some skin care tidbits that we might have missed? We’d love to hear from you! Do comment on the section below!

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