Review: Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner (Lighten Dark Spots)

After reading wonderful reviews about Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid Toner, a treatment used mainly to lighten up dark spots, help treat acne scarring, and restore even texture, it was a product I had wanted to try and review for some time.

A toner with a glycolic is something I normally would not try, due to having sensitive skin, and as a warning, this product is generally not recommended for those with extremely sensitive skin in general.

But if you have normal, combination, dry, or more resilient skin, and need a go-to toner that helps address signs of dark spots, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, aging concerns, texture and skin tone issues, dryness, and pore size all in one- this makes a pretty perfect facial toner as a treatment before a moisturizer.

It really leaves you with a more glowing, radiant, and younger-looking skin after a single time use.

While I would not recommend this if you’re new to glycolic products, if you’re already a fan, this is probably a toner you’ll love adding to your collection, and it definitely proves visible results.

Looking for a treatment toner with a potent formula and anti-aging ingredients? This may be just for you.

Review: Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner (Lighten Dark Spots) 1

Review: Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid Toner is an 8oz resurfacing treatment designed to treat several concerns at once and fully restore and refresh the face.

The main ingredient, glycolic acid, helps restore a more youthful looking appearance to the face and helps control signs like fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness, elasticity, and sun damage.

The single best use for this toner is likely the brightening benefits- acne scar marks are lightened, any signs of sun spots and damage and pigmentation issues are fully addressed with continual use over time, and the skin appears more radiant, renewed and refreshed with continual daily use.

This is a perfect treatment when you’re a fan of glycolic products and improved clarity and vibrancy.

In addition the the new glow, I also noticed a visible decrease in the appearance of pore size while using this toner, and it is definitely detoxifying- so the entire t-zone area (especially clogged pores, blackheads, dirt, oil, and debris) are quickly eliminated with use.

While I would recommend this for all of the mentioned concerns and found it to be a great anti-aging toner that still leaves the skin feeling soft and hydrated with use, and was not irritating to my sensitive skin, it should be said that it is not generally recommended for those with sensitive skin types- as it is extremely active and potent.

Those with very active acne cases or very sensitive skin may find the toner to create rashes, irritation, redness, or be triggering for their skin, so if you are sensitive and still keen on testing this product out- spot testing is definitely needed prior.

If you’re comparison shopping and looking for a good skincare regimen, we recommend pairing this product with Valjean Labs Facial Serum, Dr. Jart’s Tiger Grass Cream, and Tatcha’s Deep Cleanse.

It’s also important to follow with an SPF product in the morning, such as Malin and Goetz’s SPF 30 Moisturizer.

Mario Badescu's Glycolic Acid Toner and products
Image Credit: Mario Badescu

How Do I Use Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner?

  • Apply to clean skin after cleansing using cotton balls/pads until skin is clean and detoxified
  • Can be used twice daily after cleansing
  • Follow with serum and regular routine, which should be more absorbing into the skin

* For those new to glycolic products, you may want to try this product out first on a weekly or first time basis before using it twice daily, as it is important to let the skin adjust to the product, it is also very important to follow in the AM with the use of a sun protective product*

Mario Badescu's Glycolic Acid Toner and other Products
Image Credit: Mario Badescu

Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner Ingredients & Benefits

The ingredients contained in skincare products, especially for those of us with sensitive skin, can be just as important as those contained in the foods we eat, here are the key ingredients contained in Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid Toner and some skincare benefits with corresponding use:

Glycolic Acid

  • Anti-acne benefits: helps in treating acne and the bacteria that causes it, treats dead skin cells, cystic acne, sebum, and acne scar marks
  • Minimizes the appearance of pore size, even large pores
  • Deep exfoliation benefits, detoxifies the skin, leaving it clear and balanced
  • Detoxifying: dissolves dead skin cells, removing whiteheads, breakouts and blackheads
  • Anti-aging benefits: improves collagen production and elasticity in the skin
  • Restores a healthy PH balance to the skin, balancing
  • Evens out texture of the skin and plumps the skin to create a more youthful aesthetic
  • Helps other products absorb better following use (i.e. creams, serums)
  • Brightens skin and restores radiance in dull or sallow skin
  • Works very quickly, in comparison to other ingredients and formulations, in terms of anti-aging and brightening benefits

Grapefruit Extract

  • Helps to fully restore texture and tone to the complexion, promotes an even skin type
  • Vitamin C and antioxidants contained in grapefruit extract benefit the skin by protecting from environmental and pollution damage, helping with preventative anti-aging benefits
  • Grapefruit extract contains a high amount of antioxidants and Vitamin C, which protects, nurtures, and hydrates the skin, in addition to brightening and helping to soften out any lines
  • Suitable ingredient and safe for all skin types (excluding those with a specific allergy)
  • Anti-aging benefits: stimulates collagen production, which helps with decreasing the appearance of fine lines, sun damage, sun spots, pigmentation, deeper set lines (over time), and wrinkles
  • Softens and smoothens the appearance, both with respect to texture and surface aesthetic
  • Potassium found in grapefruit extract helps treat wrinkles and UV damage, and any signs of pigmentation change
  • Refreshing, detoxifying, and clarifying
  • Helps in treating dark spots, acne scarring, and small signs of scarring on the face

Aloe Vera

  • For dry skin: helps to soften and hydrate skin without clogging pores, leading to a glowing complexion and soft feeling skin 
  • Anti-aging properties and benefits (for preventative concerns); aloe contains beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and improve elasticity
  • Anti-acne benefits: fights acne and bacteria that causes acne and new blemishes from forming
  • Helps diminish the appearance of burned skin, soothes sunburns and preexisting sun damage
  • Anti-inflammatory properties promote healing and soothing to the skin
  • Effective healing properties to the skin, helps repair and nurture tissue, helps treat sun damage
  • Works in tandem with other ingredients in the formulation to support skin health, repair, and overall hydration
  • Helps in reducing the size of large pores and tightening the t-zone area
  • Detoxifies the skin and rids the skin of unwanted dirt, oil, and debris
Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner and backdrop books
Image Credit: Mario Badescu

Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner Pros and Cons

Overall, Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid Toner is the perfect treatment product for normal, dry, and combination skin types, and those who are looking to treat signs of acne scarring, pigmentation issues, dullness and uneven texture, and aging concerns. It may not be the perfect product for those with very sensitive skin, and is not recommended for those using prescription skin treatment products or those with moderate to severe acne flair up cases.

With that in mind, here are some main pros and cons to bear in mind prior to purchase:


  • Cruelty-free and vegan company: Mario Badescu does not test any of their products on any animals, use any animal products in their formulations, or during any manufacturing processes (including beeswax)
  • For dull and sallow skin: helps to restore radiance, glow and vibrance to the skin
  • Helps get rid of dark spots, sun damage, and signs of hyperpigmentation
  • Minimizes the appearance of large pores and tightens skin in the t-zone area
  • Helps balance and smoothen tone and texture of the skin
  • After using, skin is left feeling soft and hydrated, and balanced
  • Perfect for normal, dry and combination type skin
  • Gets rid of dirt, oil, and debris from the nasal and t-zone area and eliminates blackheads
  • Helps get rid of acne scarring and small scar marks on the face
  • Even with sensitive and acne-prone skin, I did not experience any allergic reaction, redness, irritation, or breakouts following use (although those with sensitive skin should definitely spot test, as others with sensitivities have reported redness and bad reactions using this product)
  • Anti-aging benefits: helps treat signs of wrinkles, fine lines, sun damage, and sun spots
  • Helps other products used in your skincare routine (i.e. serums) work better and absorb better into the skin
  • Great product longevity even with everyday use, as only a small amount is needed


  • While somehow this product did work for my skin even with sensitivities, it is actually not recommended for those with sensitive skin, those with serious acne issues, or those using topical prescriptive products
  • It is highly important to remember to use sunscreen when using this product due to the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) in it- which increases the risk of potential sun exposure and damage
  • It is extremely important to avoid contact with the eye area and rinse with cold water if exposure occurs
  • While this is a great product with good benefits with use, I have found other products and competitors on the market with the same benefit and gentler ingredients for lower price points that I would likely recommend first, above Mario Badescu’s toner (for an example, I recommend checking out our review on Thayers Witch Hazel Rose Petal Toner)
Mario Badescu's Glycolic Acid Toner Product collection
Image Credit: Mario Badescu

Mario Badescu Money-Back Guarantee-Policy

If you have very sensitive skin (warning: this product may not be for you in this case) or have not used Mario Badescu products in the past, the return and exchange policy in this case may be a highly important factor for you.

The manufacturer, Mario Badescu, has a strong return and exchange policy that honors full refunds upon dissatisfaction or allergy, and this policy favors the consumer, both new and returning.

If you are dissatisfied with the use of Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid Toner, or if it does not work for your skin to provide suitable skincare benefits, or you experience any product allergy or reaction to the formulation, you may elect to return it at any time.

In this case, you will receive a full refund equal to the entire purchase price of the item (if purchased via Amazon, the policy may not apply to other individual merchants).

Mario Badescu's Glycolic Acid Toner minis
Image Credit: Mario Badescu

Review: Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner (Lighten Dark Spots) 1

Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner: Worth It Winner?

For many, depending on what you are seeking to address, this product is definitely a worth it winner.

When you’re looking to get rid of acne scar marks, you want a solid anti-aging toner that works while hydrating the skin, rids the skin of blackheads and impurities, and addresses issues related to pigmentation, this is a perfect selection.

Mario Badescu’s Toner is also a hit with those who are already fans of glycolic products, and looking for more advanced aging treatments, especially ones that can be used daily.

So when you’re looking to restore vibrance and glow, even out texture and tone, erase the appearance of pores, and tackle several issues in one go, this is a great treatment solution with potent ingredients that work very quickly for visible results, and help your other skincare products work more effectively.

However, this may not always be the best remedy for extremely sensitive skin types and is not at all a flawless product.


Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Treats Hyperpigmentation
Treats Scarring


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