Here’s a fun fact for you: Our bodies get rid of anywhere between 30 and 40,000 skin cells a day. (Hey Siri, remind me to wash the bedsheets later.) In a process called cell turnover, the plump new skin cells push up from the deepest layer of your dermis and rise to the surface, as the dead ones gradually slough off.
This can be slowed down by a number of factors—from hormone fluctuations to the aging process—and when that happens, your skin can start to look dull and clogged. That's where exfoliators like the REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic come in handy.
When used correctly, an exfoliator can help speed up the whole cell shedding process, which is helpful (if not totally necessary) as you get older. Or if you’re prone to breakouts like I am.
In general, I prefer chemical exfoliators (such as a glycolic acid serum or a peel pad) over physical ones (like scrubs or cleansing brushes) because I find them to be gentler on my skin. And without getting into another science lesson about the different types of chemical exfoliators, I’ll just tell you why I’ve been gravitating towards this particular tonic these days.
REN’s formula, which features a blend of alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, keeps acne caused by humidity and face masks in check without causing any additional irritation. While I finally have fewer breakouts, I’ve also found that it’s improved the overall tone and texture of my skin over time.
A closer look at the ingredients and I see there’s lactic acid, which is a gentler alternative to the better-known glycolic acid, and willow bark extract, which helps clear pores. Add to that some azelaic acid for brightening and you’ve got yourself one clever, dead skin cell sloughing cocktail.
On a purely aesthetic level, I enjoy the bright citrus scent and the cheerful, clear orange packaging (which gives me an indicator of how much product I have left). I also appreciate the push-pump top because it dispenses a modest amount of tonic without any of the accidental spills or overpouring that can happen with liquids.
To use, you simply take a cotton round (preferably a reusable one) and press down on the top to saturate it before swiping it over your face and neck. Let the tonic dry down for a few minutes and finish off with some moisturizer. (Don’t forget to add sunscreen, if it’s daytime.) Personally, I only use this at night because I find that the more products I use in the morning, the more likely they are to pill on my skin.
Though it says “daily” in the name (and judging by the reviews, there are many people who use it as frequently as they can), I prefer to skip a day or two in-between uses because after many years of experimentation and befriending dermatologists, I’d rather not risk over exfoliating my skin.
I’ve found that using a little REN tonic every couple of days makes my skin clearer, brighter and smoother. It’s something I am eternally thankful for whenever I catch a glimpse of myself on video calls.