Describe the brand in three words (sentences?)

Young. Trendy. Good.

Who is it for?

The brand: teens – late 20s. This particular product: Hard to recommend for anyone.

What’s in it?

Aqua/Water/Eau, Sodium Hydroxide, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Gluconolactone, Propanediol, Ethoxydiglycol, Magnesium Chloride, Glycereth-7 Trimethyl Ether, Niacinamide, Betaine, Inositol, Citric Acid, Glycerin, Salicylic Acid, Phytic Acid, Pentylene Glycol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Parfum/Fragrance, PEG-8, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Acetic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide

What’s not in it?

parabens Possibly acne/allergy/troubling for some ingredients?

sodium hydroxide (a lot of), fragrance

Suitable for pregnancy?

Technically yes, but I wouldn’t. Your skin has the possibility to be sensitised in pregnancy and this could make it worse.

Natural? Organic? Man made? Vegan?

Man-made. Not vegan.

Tested on animals in home country/sold in territories that require testing?


How does it smell?

Vaguely acidic, not particularly fragranced, which makes the inclusion of fragrance all the more frustrating.

What’s the packaging like?

Good. My favourite kind of pack and dispenser for liquids. It’s essentially the nail polish remover bottle from nail salons with the pump top.

How do you use it?

Apply cotton pad to the dispenser and pump to release the juice.

Best for winter or summer?


How long did I test it for?

I used it twice. See below.

How much is it? /Size?

£19/$24 for 130ml/4.4 fl oz

What’s the website like?

Great, well known. No need to elaborate.

Clicks to buy?

4/5 depending if you’re registered or not.

How’s the distribution? Available freely or limited?

Limited to shipping in the USA/CANADA/UK.

What’s good about it?

The bottle. It contains niacinamide, which is a great ingredient. That's about it.

What’s not so good about it?

This is genuinely a missed opportunity. Let me preface this by saying I doubt anyone was as excited as I was about an acid toner coming from Glossier. Little gets me more excited than acid. This much we know. I ordered it quickly without even reading up about it on the day of launch, paid for speedy delivery, and then the PR sent me one at the same time, so two turned up. I had by then read the usual sycophantic reviews from people who had gotten hold of it first, and didn't expect them to be quite so far off the mark, but they were.

I used it in the evening of the day I received it, and woke up to redness and a sore area around my nose. I used it again the next evening and woke up the next morning with redness and a cluster of pustules that were hot, itchy and sore. They all opened after one (extremely gentle) cleanse of my face making it literally red raw in that area. If you saw me on Instagram talking about the Clinique CX Moisturiser that I was using to fix a reaction? It was for this.

For the sake of clarity and taking emotion out of the post, here are my findings:

  • Firstly, the claim at the top of the web page 'Transforms the skin in 4 weeks' is not a legal claim you can make in the EU so you may want to look at that swiftly.
  • The US site has to list the salicylic acid as a % as it is considered a drug in the States, and it declares it as 0.5%. It doesn't mention the % in the UK-facing packaging or webpage. 0.5% is considered clinically irrelevant/too low to do anything other than mildly exfoliate the skin. You are generally looking at 1% and above in the treatment of acne. Something I assume is the case here because the packaging is missing a pregnancy warning. Most salicylic acid products advise pregnant women to discontinue use due to the aspirin derivative. If this isn't strong enough to warrant a pregnancy warning, it's not changing your acne.
  • I have no doubt that the problem with this formula is the incredibly high % of sodium hydroxide. SH is used in small amounts in a lot of skincare products - it's in some acids, including Glow Tonic, and the Nip + Fab Pads, but usually towards the end of the inci list and after something extremely calming, in the case of Glow Tonic, after a huge amount of aloe vera. It's also in toothpaste, but when used at a high %, and when mixed with water, it has an exothermic reaction on the skin, hence the heat. As there is no other buffer in this, the SH is clearly being used as the PH adjuster.
  • My other concern is that when mixed with acids, SH makes salt. That is why this formula is no doubt good at drying out spots. It's acid, a lot of sodium hydroxide and a salty solution. Of course it's going to dry out your spots. It will also potentially aggravate your acid mantle, and not in the way acids are supposed to.

Opinion. This is a not a sophisticated formula. It would not surprise me if the packaging cost more than the juice. After the bottle (which I do love), the foil wrap, the pink bubble bag and the box for shipping is taken into account, I'd say the pack cost more. There is no doubt a certain younger demographic, who are Glossier's main audience, who have never tried acids before, have some spots, will try this and think 'HOLY GRAIL'. They will experience the drying as the product 'making their pores smaller' - which, incidentally, is another claim they need to remove, and the heat (exothermic reaction) as it 'working'.

The addition of fragrance is unnecessary. Generally, I don't particularly mind one way or another re: fragrance in skincare, but putting it in here, when you already have a potentially irritating/drying product, at a time when the majority of customers want fragrance-free, is not very well-thought out. Acids smell. They smell because they are a chemical. They need a buffer to adjust the PH of the formula. Buffering agents also smell and include vinegar, witch hazel, alcohol and sodium lactate/hydroxide to name a few. They smell. It is serious skincare. It's why P50 smells. We need to just get over it. Pandering to 'eew it smells' is why we end up with glitter in skincare. If you're old enough to need serious skincare you are old enough to put up with a smell for a few seconds before it dissipates.

I read online somewhere a quote from a Glossier employee saying 'it's better than P50!'. This, of course, is a nonsense.

Would I purchase/repurchase?

No. And I will not be passing it on to anyone else either.

Do you need it? No.

Similar Better products?

Zelens PHA Pads

Biologique Recherche P50

Kate Somerville Clinic-To-Go

January Labs Brightening Tonic

Glossier Solution is £19 and available from

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