Toner is a divisive beauty category. Some experts and enthusiasts will agree that the step boils down to preference versus efficacy. Others swear by the step to enhance your skincare routine. I'm not here to argue who's right and wrong because I fall somewhere in the middle: I'm not as committed as I should be to toner, which mainly stems from laziness. Still, I've found that when I stick to one I love, it makes a difference in my skin's texture and overall appearance. When I usually reach for toner, I opt for liquids that lightly exfoliate and leave behind a visible glow, and Cocokind's new Turmeric Illuminating Solution ($24) fits the bill.
The brand's newest innovation was created to deliver bright, smooth, and soft skin without irritation. "We wanted to develop a 'goldilocks' version of exfoliating solutions using botanical and clinically proven ingredients," Priscilla Tsai, Cocokind's founder, says. "This meant developing a formula that is not harsh and feels super comfortable on the skin, but delivers immediate and long-term results."
To bring the goldilocks formula to life, Tsai and the Cocokind team tapped turmeric as its star ingredient for its brightening properties. "We love turmeric and believe in its topical powers," Tsai says. "Tumeric has been used in South Asian cultures for thousands of years, and the extract we use is organically grown in India, then extracted from the roots using carbon dioxide." Also in the exfoliating liquid is curcumin, which Tsai says is a potent antioxidant that protects and brightens skin. A 7% blend of PHA, mandelic, and glycolic acids buff off dead skin without irritating, and oat extract protects your skin's barrier while balancing out the acids. "When combining these ingredients, we not only get exfoliation, but we get softening, and both lead to an insane glow," Tsai says.
If you're wary of acids, fret not—the solution is suitable for most skin types, but how you use it depends on your needs. "If you're noticing a lot of buildup, you can use this up to four times weekly," Tsai recommends. "If you're sensitive, you can start once a week and work your way up." Still, if you struggle with dark spots and hyperpigmentation (like me) then regular use up to three times a week will give you the most bang for your buck.
About My Skin
Dark spots and I have a long, complicated history that is still being written. In an effort to free my skin from hyperpigmentation, I am always searching for brightening products to add to my regimen, hence why I was intrigued by the Illuminating Solution. As I mentioned earlier, I sometimes skip toner when I'm pinched for time, but usually, I don't mind splashing my face with one that'll target my skin concerns.
This one has a milky liquid texture and has a naturally-derived fragrance from its ingredients. It kind of smells like a turmeric-infused cold-pressed juice—but it isn't overpowering in the slightest. After a slight patch test, I found that I was able to jump in with regular use three times weekly. I've been using it consistently for about three weeks now and I leave with smooth skin every time.
I like to pour a healthy amount of drops into my clean hands and press the formula into my skin. I've used it with a cotton round a couple of times but hands get to the point quicker for me. Nonetheless, my skin always feels smoother and brighter after each use. When you let it sink in, it dries down to a soft texture that doesn't feel sticky (like some toners do). My skin is slightly sensitive but I haven't experienced any alarming tingling, itching, or reaction since using the solution. I've been using it in tandem with other products including a cleanser for acne-prone skin, a dark spot corrector, a gel moisturizer, and sunscreen.
The Bottom Line
Like most things in life, consistency is key when looking for long-term results especially when it comes to fading dark spots. Still, a toner that delivers a nice glow and a drink of potent ingredients for your face is worth a regular spot in a routine to me. It helps that this one is equally gentle and effective, so you don't have to worry about harshness or irritation to achieve glowing skin.