Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner

Product:  Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner (formerly Alpha Hydrox Toner Astringent).  Will this glycolic acid infused toner help your pores to disappear?

Overall Rating = 3+ stars3.5 Stars – Very Good

Cost: $8.52 for 6 oz. ($1.42 per fluid ounce)  Price Category: Inexpensive

Sold By: NeotericCosmetics; Wal-mart

Container: Plastic bottle with nice flip cap, outer carton.

Discussion:  Before I get into the product review, this product is a toner, which contains SD alcohol.  There is so much controversy surrounding this ingredient in cosmetics.  I have researched this ingredient extensively.  SD alcohol is Specially Denatured Ethanol.  Ethanol is, quite simply, the alcohol that you drink.  SD alcohol has denatonium benzoate added to it to make it bitter so that no one will be tempted to drink the cosmetic products.  Alcohol can be drying to people with very dry skin and it can be irritating to someone with hypersensitive skin.  On the flip side, SD alcohol can actually aid in the absorption of other ingredients to the skin and just because it is in a product, is not a bad thing.  The alcohol can act as an effective delivery agent.  I say try it and listen to your body.  If your skin doesn’t like something, it will probably tell you.  (Just don’t try a new product before a big event.)

Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner is an astringent intended to be used once or twice a day, after cleansing, and prior to the application of any other products.  Always apply your products following cleansing in the order from the most watery consistency to the thickest consistency.  If you have never used an alpha hydroxy acid product before, you may want to start with every other day and eventually build up to twice a day.  Alpha hydroxy acids can cause irritation to sensitive or delicate skin.  Also, this product contains a small amount of menthol.  If you are sensitive to menthol, this is not the best product for you.

Description:  Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner was formerly known as Alpha Hydrox Toner Astringent.  Nothing has changed except the bottle and the name.  This product is intended for consistent, oily, or consistent/oily combination skin.  As you will see if you continue reading, I use this product on my dry sensitive skin, but I use it a different way.  This is not intended for use around the eye area.  Please don’t get this in or near your eyes as it will burn terribly.

Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner contains alpha hydroxy acid in the form of a glycolic acid derived from fruit.  This is a fragrance-free product.  This is also PH balanced.  Alpha hydroxy acids aid the skin with exfoliation and cell turnover.  This is a chemical exfoliant, as opposed to a physical exfoliant such as a scrub or microdermabrasion.  This toner is intended to be used following cleansing and leave it on.  Due to my skin being dry, I rinse it off.

Company Claims:

“Gently removes excess oil, remaining make-up and residue leaving skin feeling fresh, clean and clear.
– Refines and tightens pores
– Balances natural oils
– Improves texture”.

Morning Review:  Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner is a thin blue liquid as thin as water.  To me it has a strong alcohol scent.  My male tester described the scent as a combination of alcohol and plastic.  The scent is due to the ingredients, is not offensive, and dissipates quickly.  The toner feels refreshing and cooling to the skin.  The alcohol in it does make my eyes water for a few seconds until it evaporates.

I have very dry skin.  Even though this product is intended for consistent to oily skin, I use this.  I really like how well it cleans and I find that it is not too drying to my skin provided I rinse it off.  Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner leaves my face feeling very clean.  It does not make my skin feel itchy or irritated.  As this toner contains beneficial glycolic acid, please do not rinse it off unless you need to.  Because my pores are so small after using this, makeup goes on beautifully.

I do have a complaint about this product and that is the fact that it is blue.  I wish manufacturers would completely stop the practice of adding artificial color to skin care products.  I’m taking off one star due to the blue dye.

Please Note:  If you have Rosacea, please check with your dermatologist before using this or any AHA product.

Please Also Note:  Alpha hydroxy acids can make your skin more susceptible to burning when you are exposed to the sun.  Please wear a sunscreen with a high SPF on top of this product to avoid burning.

Evening Review:  Provided I rinse this off, my skin does not get dry or tight and stays hydrated and smooth all day.  If I don’t rinse it off, this toner is a little too drying for my skin.  Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner effectively removes all traces of makeup after cleansing and I do not need to use any wipes if I use this toner.  Once again, please don’t use this near your eyes.  You will need a separate eye makeup remover.

Overall Review:  Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner is an excellent toner in terms of removing all traces of makeup and closing the pores.  I don’t get the added benefit of the glycolic acid because I have to rinse it off.  I have to take a point off though because I also don’t want artificial dyes or colorants on my skin if they don’t need to be there.  I also prefer alcohol-free toners for my dry skin, but sadly, the alcohol-free products don’t clean nearly as well.  Also, it is controversial for a toner to contain menthol when so many people are sensitive it.  Even with my hypersensitive skin I am not sensitive to menthol and I find the cooling effect to be refreshing.  Only you can determine if this will work for you.

Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner is suitable for women and men with all skin types provided it does not have a drying effect on your skin and you aren’t sensitive to menthol.  My male tester who has dry skin said this toner did not make his skin feel dry at all like most toners do.  He thought his face felt very clean, soft, and hydrated after using this toner.

Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner is suitable for the following skin types:

  • All ethnicities;
  • All ages;
  • All sexes;
  • Oily;
  • Dry (only if you rinse it off);
  • Sensitive (not if sensitive to menthol);
  • Consistent.

Please see the Help page to determine your skin type.


Morning Rating = 3 stars4 Stars for Effectiveness – 1 Star for Blue Dye = 3 Stars;

Evening Rating = 4 stars4 Stars;

Average from Other Testers = 3 stars3 Stars (also due to blue dye);

Value Rating  = 4 stars4 Stars;

Overall Rating = 3+ stars3.5 Stars, Very Good.

Would Buy Again?  Yes (I have been using this for many years.)

(Please review the About 365 Cosmetic Reviews page for the rating info.)

Alpha Hydrox Toner Astringent Former Product

Alpha Hydrox Toner Astringent Former Product

Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner Current Product Front

Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner Current Product Front

Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner Current Product Back

Alpha Skin Care Clarifying Toner Current Product Back

Ingredients: Water, SD Alcohol 40, Witch Hazel Distillate, Propylene Glycol, Glycolic Acid, Chamomile Extract, Panthenol, Menthol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Imidazolidinyl Urea, FD&C Blue #1.

Formulated Without:  Artificial Fragrance, Parabens.

Serious Skin Care C Extreme Results Advanced Vitamin C Skin Resurfacer

Product:  Serious Skin Care C Extreme Results Advanced Vitamin C Skin Resurfacer.  This used to be known as Serious Skin Care C Extreme Results Peel.  (Photos of both products are shown below.)  This is a two-step fragrance-free exfoliating product.

Overall Rating: = 3+ stars3.5 Stars – Very Good.

Cost: $48.50 for 4 oz. total (2 products, 2 oz. each) ($12.13 per ounce) Price Category: Mid-range

Sold By:  Serious Skin Care; HSN; Kohl’s (limited products)

Container:  Two tubes with screw-off caps

Description:  I first became familiar with this line of products while channel surfing in the middle of the night.  Jennifer Flavin-Stallone and Cecilia Lewis were on HSN and I stopped to listen as they touted the benefits of this line.  I ordered a kit with many different products, most I didn’t care for due to fragrances, but this one was interesting.

Here is the description from the Serious Skin Care website:

“Doesn’t your skin deserve a very special beauty treatment? “C” a wonderful difference in the way your skin looks and feels with C-Extreme Results from Serious Skincare. This at-home skin resurfacing kit is a 2-part beauty treatment that helps rapidly exfoliate your skin while delivering Vitamin C.”

What It Does: Helps skin feel incredibly soft and silky. Helps improve the appearance of mature, over-40 skin.”

The funny thing about this line of products is that when I first tried them about a decade ago the packaging looked like someone was making this stuff in their garage.  The jars and bottles were the generic plastic kind you would buy if you were making your own cosmetics and the paper labels looked like they were printed with a home computer.  Since I don’t like fancy containers anyway, this was both amusing and appealing to me.  Also, their website is a no-fuss site without a lot of information.  Recently, they have gone to fancier, more expensive packaging and they are giving you less product as a result.  Such is progress, right?

Warning:  Please do not use this product, or any physically abrasive product, if you have Rosacea without consulting your dermatologist first.

Morning Review:  This is not intended to be a daily cleanser.  This is an exfoliating product designed to be used 2-3 times per week after cleansing.  Highly sensitive skin may want to begin with once per week.  Both products are fragrance free and the scent occurs from the ingredients. Step 1 has a light generic chemical scent and step 2 has a light citrus scent.  Neither scent is offensive to me nor makes my nose run.

This product reminds me of chemistry class.  Remember when you poured vinegar or a soft drink (acids) onto a pile of baking soda (an alkali) and watched it bubble?  Such is the effect of this two-step chemical activation product.  Step 1 is gritty feeling from the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which is the second ingredient.  You squeeze out the off-white paste from the tube and put that all over your face.  It takes about a teaspoon of product.  You then squirt out the clear lactic acid liquid from step 2 and rub it on top of step 1.  Squirt it into the palm of your hand or it will go all over the place.  Also, you’ll need about a teaspoon of the liquid.  (For some reason I always run out of the paste before the liquid even though I try to use equal amounts.)  This product used to come with step 1 in a jar and step 2 in a squirt bottle.  That packaging made a lot more sense than this current configuration.  It is difficult to get all of the paste out of the tube and the liquid runs out too fast.

As you might expect, when these two compounds combine, they bubble up on your face and this chemical reaction exfoliates your skin.  Some people report a gentle warming sensation, others do not.  I do feel the warming sensation when I use these two products together.  The current formula is not as dramatic as when I first used the product years ago.  After gently massaging the products, rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.  As with any exfoliating product, avoid the eye area.  My skin feels baby soft after using this combo and my makeup goes on flawlessly.

Morning Rating = 4 Stars for the Product, 3 Stars for the Packaging = 3.5 Stars

Evening Review:  After several hours my skin stayed smooth and I did not have any allergic reactions.  I have used this many times without any negative side effects.

Overall Review:  I prefer chemical exfoliants to physical exfoliants, and this product is unusual as it is both a chemical and physical exfoliant.  Using this product 1-2 times per week should be fine for most people.  I would say that every other day would be too frequent.  Sensitive skin should begin with once per week.  This is not a good product to use in conjunction with a cleansing brush.  The combination would prove too severe.  As with any physical exfoliant, the key is to be gentle, and don’t rub vigorously, or you will irritate your skin.

Those of you who follow me know that I am a huge fan of exfoliating and discuss the topic frequently.  Serious Skin Care C Extreme Results Advanced Vitamin C Skin Resurfacer is a very good exfoliant at a mid-range price.  It definitely removes dead skin and leaves my face feeling smoother.  The scent is not offensive.  The products do not dry out my skin and my sensitive skin tolerates it well.

This product is appropriate for use by men as well as women.

This exfoliant is suitable for the following skin types: (Not for those with Rosacea)

  • All ethnicities;
  • All ages;
  • All sexes;
  • Sensitive (but not Rosacea);
  • Oily;
  • Dry;
  • Consistent;
  • Combination.


Morning Rating = 3+ stars3.5 Stars;

Evening Rating = 3+ stars3.5 Stars;

Average from Other Testers =4 stars 4 Stars;

Value Rating = 3 stars3 Stars;

Overall Rating = 3+ stars3.5 Stars – Very Good.  (Please review the About 365 Cosmetic Reviews page for the rating info.)

Serious Skin Care C Extreme Results Advanced Vitamin C Skin Resurfacer

Serious Skin Care C Extreme Results Advanced Vitamin C Skin Resurfacer Current Packaging

Serious Skin Care C Extreme Results Peel

Serious Skin Care C Extreme Results Peel Former Packaging

Ingredients (Step 1) C-Resurface: PEG-6, Sodium Bicarbonate, Oleth-20, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Dimethicone, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid, Tocopheryl, Butylparaben, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Yellow 5, Yellow 6.

Ingredients (Step 2) C-Potion: Water, Lactic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Linoleamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Polyquaternium-10, Propylene Glycol, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Oil, Beta Carotene, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben.

Important:  Please read our full Disclaimer before using this or any product.