pH products: Neutrogena’s Pore Refining Toner

Neutrogena Pore Refining toner - Cosmetic Composition

If you read my review on Pixi’s Glow Tonic toner you might remember I wrote that I preferred toners with a bit more sting to them when applied. While that typically means the formula contains a high alcohol concentration, which is drying towards the skin, I managed to find a good toner that gives me the feel I wanted.

Enter, Neutrogena’s Pore Refining toner. This low-on-the-radar toner contains ingredients such as glycolic acid, witch hazel, salicylic acid, aloe vera leaf juice and peppermint extract. When searching for a toner I wanted one that was in my price range contained some alpha hydroxy acids. For $8 I was able to get both alpha and beta hydroxy acids in an 8.5 oz. bottle which is a great deal if you ask me.

ingredients: water, alcohol denatured, glycolic acid, witch hazel(hamamelis virginiana) extract, sodium PCA, salicylic acid, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, eucalyptus globulus leaf extract, peppermint (mentha piperita) leaf extract, allantoin, sodium lactate, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, fragrance

After using Pixi’s Glow Tonic for such a long time I was worried that the not as gentle formula would irritate my skin. After testing the toner with litmus paper I found that the pH was ~3 (as indicated by the darkly colored part of the litmus paper). This pH value was suprisinly not at low as I expected. The value of 3 makes it a very effective toner to return our skin’s acid mantal back to that 5.5 value.

pH of Neutrogena's Pore Refining toner - Cosmetic Composition


Overall I would recommend this toner to anyone looking for a great deal on an exfoliating toner. Due to the presence of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, your chance for getting sunburns increases so make sure to apply sunscreen afterwards if you use it in the morning. Additionally because of the use of ingredients such as witch hazel, peppermint extract and fragrance I would not recommend this product to those with sensitive skin as these ingredients may cause irritation.



5 thoughts on “pH products: Neutrogena’s Pore Refining Toner

    • Paige DeGarmo says:

      Hi Junona, great question. Alcohol denat. is used in a lot of cosmetic products because it’s very easy to formulate with and is labeled with many different names. You’re right that it has been speculated to be drying. However there is research supporting both sides. Personally I think it’s more of a personal thing, and you have to see how your skin reacts to it. Here are some links below if you’d like to see both sides!


      • Eileen says:

        You raise an excellent and often overlooked point: Denatured alcohol is used as part of the manufacturing process in lots of products and is not necessarily going to be drying or irritating depending on how much is being used and what else is used in the formulation. Of course, it can also be extremely harsh and cause all kinds of unpleasant skin flare ups, but at that point, we are talking more about individual tolerance. When I was a teen (back in the dark ages), I swabbed my skin with alcohol laden Ten-O-Six morning and night and I had beautiful, clear skin. I also had much thicker skin and it was very oily. Now that I am a septanagerian with thin, dry, sensitive skin, I must be very careful of denatured alcohol in products. If it is anywhere near the top of the list, it’s a complete no go. If I see it tucked down at the bottom, I assume it is being used in the manufacturing process in conjunction with something else and, depending on what else is in the formulation, I may or may not try it.

        In short, I think it is more a question of how much and in what capacity denatured alcohol is being used.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Eileen says:

    I wish your recommendation of this product had been more narrow in scope; specifically, it appears to be designed for people with oily, acne prone skin that is not sensitive. Most other people would probably find this product too harsh and too drying for daily use. Although some of the ingredients have antiseptic properties, others will strip the skin. That might be good if you produce enough oil to go into competition with EXXON! LOL But for the rest of us, it can easily result in irritation. As for the “sting”, that begs the question as to why you want something that stings your skin on a daily basis. Stinging does not equate with effectiveness and how it is perceived can vary widely from individual to individual. There are well formulated AHA and BHA products that are not so harsh.


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