Clearing Tonic

$19.95 - 4 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > Anti-Acne Products > BHA
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Clearing Tonic is a toner-like exfoliant that contains 1% salicylic acid. Also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA for short, salicylic acid is an anti-acne superstar ingredient. This also contains glycolic acid, an AHA ingredient that can also exfoliate skin and help reduce breakouts, though salicylic acid is preferred for acne. This exfoliant "toner" (or tonic, if you prefer) has a pH of 3.8, so it will function as an exfoliant—great news for those struggling with clogged pores and acne!

Note on the glycolic acid: The company doesn't reveal how much it contains, but we suspect it's around 3–5%.

The light-as-water texture is barely felt and this contains some antioxidant plant extracts that also have anti-inflammatory benefits. Although contains fragrance the scent is subtle, nearly undetectable, and not likely to pose a risk of irritation.

Clearing Tonic's only drawback is the inclusion of witch hazel distillate. As the most concentrated form of this astringent plant, it has a higher alcohol content and is potentially irritating. This ingredient holds Clearing Tonic back from our top rating, but if you're curious about Exposed Skin Care it remains a recommended product for all skin types except sensitive.

  • Exfoliates skin to reduce breakouts and unclog pores.
  • Water-light texture doesn't leave an objectionable finish.
  • Minimal fragrance.
  • Contains antioxidants with anti-irritant potential.
  • Amount of witch hazel distillate is potentially irritating.

The Exposed Clearing Tonic penetrates pores to control blackheads and whiteheads while returning your skin to its natural healthy balance. The tonic also rejuvenates problem skin with essential extracts and prepares your skin for the ExposedTM Acne Treatment Serum.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid (1.0%). Inactive Ingredients: Water, Glycolic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Azelaic Acid, Hamamelis Virginiana Extract (Witch Hazel) Distillate, Dimethylethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, Camellia Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea Extract), Passiflora Edulis Flower (Passion Flower Extract), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Fragrance.

Exposed Skincare is a small collection of anti-acne products sold individually or in pre-selected kits that are priced between $50–$95. Based in Seattle and having been around since 2002, it’s only recently that this line has come to our attention, perhaps due to their products being available on mega website As a line dedicated to clear skin in a sea full of such options (almost all of which have their share of problems, which is hugely disappointing for anyone struggling with breakouts), it’s not surprising Exposed Skincare mentions their mix of “advanced science” with natural ingredients, thus appeasing two popular demands: Consumers want products that work, but most would prefer natural over synthetic ingredients, thinking that natural means better. As we’ve shown time and time again, that’s misguided thinking. There are good and bad natural ingredients as well as good and bad synthetic ingredients. We’re glad that Exposed Skincare utilizes the best from both groups (well, most of the time they do…)

The company’s products are said to be developed by a collaboration between dermatologists, cosmetologists, naturopaths, and chemists, further reinforcing the science + nature angle, which Exposed maintains is what makes their line different (and better) than the rest. Although this anti-acne line has a couple of standout products, just like most lines aimed at those with acne-prone skin, there are more disappointments than great products. This is not a “one and done” line, nor is it a line whose kits we’d encourage you to order.

The issue with the kits is twofold: They cost a lot less than ordering each product individually BUT you also have to take everything in the kit, which means you’re paying for some products whose formulas won’t help acne-prone skin and may, in fact, make it worse! If you’re curious about this line, steer clear of the value-priced kits and instead select individual products we’ve rated well. Of course, you can also skip this line entirely, as despite some good products, it’s not as revolutionary or different as the company would like you to believe.

For more information about Exposed Skincare, call (866) 404-7656 or visit

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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