Reviewed: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent Lotion Micro-Exfoliant
If you’re as much of a skincare buff as me, you’ll be familiar with and religiously follow the cleanse-tone-moisturise routine atleast once a day. However, over the past year or so I’ve come across several articles that advise on skipping or altogether doing away with the toning step in your daily skincare regime. Now I’m no dermatologist or skincare expert, but I really do think toning is not a step worth dismissing.
Thanks to the overwhelming amount of misinformation and misconceptions floating around the internet today, many people think of toning as an optional step, but if you really understand how toners work, you’ll know that a good one can have some truly amazing effects on your skin. First and foremost, understand exactly what your skin type is (dry, combination, oily) and then look for toners with beneficial ingredients that address those issues effectively. When you make informed choices, the results will be there for all to see; after all, nothing beats the appearance of clear skin and a natural, healthy glow.
Toners are meant to be used immediately after cleansing your skin, and were originally recommended by dermatologists as a way to restore the skin’s pH balance. However, modern-day cleansers are gentler and don’t strip the skin like they once did, so toners have been reformulated to include ingredients that repair as much as they restore, and often include skin saviours like antioxidants, glycerin, fatty acids, and ceramides. What’s more, there’s an ideal toner for your specific skin type. For example, toners for oily skin usually contain alcohol to remove excess sebum and prevent breakouts, while toners for dry skin contain hydrating ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. If you have oily, acne-prone skin, in particular, a good toner is really important. Bear in mind that ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, or menthol — that usually come in oil-control toners — are largely considered irritants and can come in the way of your skin’s healing process, sometimes making your skin woes worse.
Which brings me to La Roche-Posay’s new Effaclar Astringent Lotion Micro-Exfoliant. Now, I’m a big fan of this French drugstore brand’s products and you can read why here and here. So when the brand sent across the new toner for review a few weeks ago, I was excited to try it out. However, my experience so far has been anything but happy and I’m really disappointed to report on the negative side this time.
My skin is oily and acne-prone, and I also suffer from mild rosacea. And like I said before, you need to be especially careful with toner when you have issues like mine. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent Lotion Micro-Exfoliant claims to reduce the appearance of pores, exfoliate dead skin, and reduce oil production. My biggest problem with this product is that it falls short of pretty much every claim.
My usual nightly skincare regime goes something like this: cleanse thoroughly, then use a little toner to remove any makeup residue and dead skin, and prepare the skin for my night cream. When using a toner, a little tightness and stinging is to be expected, what is not okay is my face feeling like it’s on fire and redness that refuses to tone down even the next day. And I think this largely has to do with the amount of alcohol in the product. With alcohol denat listed as the second ingredient in the formulation, it’s not hard to understand why. While alcohol in skincare products is nothing new, this type of alcohol gives the product a quick-drying finish and weightless feeling, which is why it is present in a lot of toners for oily skin. However, it has also been proved as a bonafide skin irritant in several cosmetic research studies, and my experience with the product over 10 days proved it beyond a doubt for me.
When I used it on the first night itself — lightly dabbed on a soft cotton pad and spread around my t-zone — my skin was instantly inflamed and the burning sensation didn’t die down for a good half-hour. The next morning my skin looked redder than usual and I put it down to testing a new product and my skin acting up. I stuck with the toner for a good 8-9 days thereafter hoping that my skin just needed to adjust to the product, but in all honesty, there was no positive change in its appearance. Instead, I noticed that my skin was producing more oil than usual, and there was overall a lot more redness. What’s worse, I now had dry, flaky skin too. By day 9, I had all but given up using the toner and my skin is happier for it.
Now this is not to say that everyone will have the exact same experience as me, because skincare is such a subjective thing and issues tend to differ wildly from person to person. However, if you have sensitive skin like me, you’ll want to avoid this product. Even with a good amount of salicylic acid in the toner, the daily irritation from alcohol denat will stimulate over-production of sebum and that’s not a problem an oily-skin girl wants at all. If you don’t have sensitive skin and don’t mind the alcohol content, I’d still recommend using this product sparingly.
You might want to try some of these alcohol-free toners instead.