Even though acid toners are popping up everywhere these days, their formulas and ingredients remain as confusing as ever. Case in point: BHAs. But what are they exactly, and how do they help your skin? By boosting skin cell turnover, the best BHA toners work to balance out unevenly-textured complexions, clear and prevent blemishes, and make your skin more receptive to the oils, creams, and serums you apply after.
BHA, in case you aren’t a scientist, stands for beta hydroxy acid. The most common type of BHA is salicylic acid, but citrus fruit extracts fall into the category as well. In general BHAs are great for acne-prone skin, but they work on all skin types, because in terms of chemical exfoliants, they're pretty gentle. BHAs work by cutting through and removing sebum (the oil that comes out of our sebaceous glands) that clogs pores and contributes to acne. They also have bacteria-clearing and skin-calming properties.
When deciding on a BHA toner for you skin and its needs, look for products that suit your skin type (like an all-natural option for sensitive skin), or that come in formula you prefer (like pre-soaked cotton pads for frequent travelers). If you're still having a hard time deciding, the five choices listed below are a great place to start. With regular use, they will all make your skin smoother, clearer, and healthier.