The Inkey List PHA Toner Review

PHA’s Poly Hydroxy acids are the cousins of AHA with a large molecule size and gentler on the skin. I first fell in love with PHA in 2018 after using Neostrata’s Tri-Lifting serum. Since then I have tried only 3 other PHA based products, 1 was impressive 1 was good and the last one I simply didn’t like.

This toner from the Inkey List was exciting to me because I was looking forward to something more affordable. I was gifted this product at their event last year.

What the brand says:

The INKEY List PHA Toner a gentle exfoliant for sensitive skin that helps remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, giving the appearance of smoother, brighter skin.

Larger PHA molecules gently remove dead cells from the surface of the skin to improve texture, whilst PHA’s humectant properties naturally lock in moisture. Aloe Barbadensis Leaf juice and 3% Niacinamide formulation soothes the skin and calms redness, making this toner suitable for AM and PM use.

3% PHA

3% Niacinamide

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice


I added the PHA toner to my AM and PM routine at the toner stage, in between cleansing and misting. I have not experienced any irritation and it doesn’t sting or burn the skin.

To be totally honest I am quite disappointed with the toner. I found the toner quite easy to add to my routine and slightly hydrating. It dries down quickly and doesn’t leave any residue or the skin sticky. Apart from this, I really didn’t notice anything else.

Here’s why I’m disappointed, some studies say the optimal concentration is between 8 to 15% to get the best results from PHA. The PHA toner only has 3% which is quite low. To be honest, I didn’t notice any huge difference in terms of texture to my skin. The formula also has 3% Niacinamide and whilst Niacinamide usually leaves my skin slightly dry this didn’t do that( The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% although its is a higher percentage) I can see results from using the Ordinary’s serum due to its high percentage so I am not surprised I didn’t notice any from the toner.


For me, as someone who uses high % acids in my routine, I am slightly disappointed with this but I can see the appeal for sensitive skin or someone who is starting to use acids. I find the concentration of PHA and niacinamide in this too low. It’s a really easy toner to add to the routine and can be used in conjunction with other products without experiencing irritation (test patch if you’re not sure). It also promises to prevent future dryness but when I was using this in April my skin was dehydrated and tight. I don’t think it’s from this product in particular but it also didn’t work to prevent it.

I think this is great for sensitive skin because it’ gentle. I prefer higher conc of acids as that’s what I’m used to. The amazing thing about PHA, in particular, gluconolactone which is in this toner is that it doesn’t make your skin sensitive to the sun which makes it great for AM use (but this doesn’t mean you don’t apply SPF!). All the PHA products I have also used has been at 10% so to use only 3% it’s quite understandable I’m a bit disappointed

The Inkey List PHA toner is £ 9.99 on cultbeauty



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