(Trial Run)

This New Liquid Exfoliant Eliminated My Blackheads In Record Time

Zero irritation in sight.

In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews. This week, we tested the new Tatcha Texture Tonic.

Cult-favorite brand Tatcha recently launched the Texture Tonic, a liquid exfoliant that contains alpha-hydroxy acids (otherwise known as AHAs), to dissolve dead skin cells and minimize oil production, all without stripping moisture from the skin.

Exfoliation, while critical for eliminating dead skin cells to reveal a brighter, softer complexion underneath, is rather finicky. Too little exfoliation can lead to clogged and enlarged pores, while too much can damage the lipid barrier or irritate those with sensitive skin. What’s cool about the Texture Tonic’s formula, however, is the ingredients that work with the chemical exfoliants: Japanese mugwort and wild rose aim to calm the skin and reintroduce any lost hydration from cleansing, while niacinamide brightens the complexion and evens out any hyperpigmentation. Tatcha’s goal with the new Texture Tonic is to create a well-balanced liquid exfoliant that can both rid any excess skin cells or grime *and* soothe the skin after cleansing, much like a good toner would.

Given that I have combination to oily skin that’s prone to blackheads and irritation, I was excited to give this formula a spin. I need something gentler than a pore strip to clear out the blackheads that travel from my hairline down to my chin and that will whisk away dead skin cells without over-drying my sensitive cheeks (as most intense chemical exfoliants seem to do). After trying Tatcha’s Texture Tonic for three weeks, this is what I’ve discovered.

Isabella's skin before using the Tatcha Texture Tonic.Isabella Sarlija

The Inside Scoop On Tatcha’s Texture Tonic

I’ve been in the beauty industry long enough to know that a chemical exfoliator is not a toner — the latter is more about balancing your skin (through either added moisture or leveling out your pH), while the former is all about removing dead skin, dirt, and oil. Tatcha markets the Texture Tonic as a liquid exfoliating treatment that can be used twice daily during your morning and nighttime skin care routines.

Regarding the Texture Tonic, Tatcha states on its site, “Rather than relying on a high percentage of a single ingredient, [The scientists at the Tatcha Institute in Tokyo] believe that a formula is greater than the sum of its parts.” In other words, instead of relying solely on high percentages of chemical exfoliators to eliminate any texture, the formulators decided to balance the formula with calming and hydrating ingredients, like mugwort and niacinamide, that will replenish the skin after cleansing, much like a traditional toner.

Isabella Sarlija

And the results of this mingling between chemical exfoliator and soothing toner seem promising. Based on Tatcha’s bio-instrumentation study conducted on 40 panelists over four weeks, 92% of panelists saw a reduction in skin surface sebum after one week, and 100% of panelists saw a reduction in pore size and an improvement in their skin’s moisture barrier after two weeks (just a reminder — you can’t actually shrink pore size, but keeping the pores clear will minimize stretch from debris and oil).

In typical Tatcha fashion, using quality and safe ingredients during formulation was pretty crucial — the Texture Tonic is formulated without mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, sulfate detergents, parabens, urea, DEA, TEA, or phthalates. The Texture Tonic is also dermatologist-tested and non-comedogenic, non-irritating, non-sensitizing, and cruelty-free.

My Skin After Using The Tatcha Texture Tonic

These ingredients and brand-conducted results seem extraordinary, but how does it work on a real life person? Tatcha recommends using the Texture Tonic morning and night, but as with everything that includes a chemical exfoliant, it’s best to use a low-and-slow method when incorporating a product like this into any routine.

I started off by using my hands to press the product into my skin every other morning for the first week. (You can definitely sweep this product on with a cotton pad if that’s more your jam.) After that, I used the Texture Tonic once every morning after cleansing and before applying my serums and moisturizer. This exfoliator is pretty different from Tatcha’s others in that you can actually use this twice a day. Still, since I have a nighttime routine full of enzymes, retinol, and exfoliating brushes, I tend to skip out on using any chemical exfoliators during the evening.

Isabella’s skin after using the Tatcha Texture Tonic for three weeks.Isabella Sarlija

I noticed that after using the Texture Tonic for three weeks, it did a fantastic job of diminishing the oiliness in my t-zone and clearing out most of the gunk from my pores without the need for a professional extraction. Plus, my skin is quite sensitive to AHAs, and even with daily use, the Texture Tonic was able to exfoliate my skin without drying it out or causing redness or irritation —even in my historically dry cheeks. And when I say no irritation, I mean it — there’s a very mild tingling sensation during application, but it dissipates quickly and never feels so intense to the point of burning or stinging. Plus, my skin never turned bright red as it sometimes does with AHAs. I attribute this to the product’s well-balanced formula that includes the calming Japanese mugwort and wild rose.

And for those of you who are sensitive to fragrances, the Texture Tonic has a slight fennel scent upon application that’s pretty refreshing. But once the formula dries down (which takes about 30 seconds), there is no scent or residue left behind. Along with clearing out my pores, it also helped to brighten my complexion and lighten a few red spots I had across my forehead, leading to an all-around texture-free, even and radiant complexion.

Do You Need The Tatcha Texture Tonic?

Unlike most chemical exfoliants around its $59 price point, the Texture Tonic has a unique balance of exfoliating and calming ingredients that make it suitable for sensitive skin. Other options with high percentages of exfoliating acids are often too harsh for delicate skin, but this formula has figured out how to merge the two benefits together.

I wouldn’t say that it works drastically better or faster than other chemical exfoliators on the market, per se, since I saw results at about the same rate as other formulas I’ve tried. But I do believe this blend of soothing ingredients plus exfoliants is why I can finally enjoy the perks of a great AHA without having to worry about wreaking havoc on my sensitive skin.

After using this for almost a month, my skin has become clearer, brighter, and less slick, which makes it well worth the purchase *and* repurchase once this hefty 150mL bottle runs out. These results are promising and I’m excited to continue using this as my go-to exfoliating treatment.

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