Silk Naturals 8% AHA (Lactic Acid) Toner Review - The Acne Experiment

Silk Naturals 8% AHA (Lactic Acid) Toner - The Acne Experiment

As promised, I've begun testing the first of multiple potential replacements for the now discontinued St. Ives Exfoliating Pads. I started with what I considered the closest dupe: Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner. Plain 'ole lactic acid exfoliants are hard to come by, and Silk Naturals is one of two that I'm aware of. At about $9 Silk Naturals is actually cheaper than St. Ives (given the 4 oz bottle) - quite impressive considering how cheap St. Ives already was. Also, please note that "toner" is simply a liquid product that is applied and not washed off. In the case of Silk Naturals, "toner" and "exfoliant" are synonymous. 

I tested this stuff for a solid SIX WEEKS.



  1. Wash face per usual. (I water wash)
  2. Treat the Silk Naturals like a squirt bottle - saturate a facial cotton of your choice.
  3. Special note: When you open the bottle, point it away from your eyes as it has a tendency to "spit." 
  4. Apply the exfoliant all over your face. Once daily is plenty.
  5. If you have POD (perioral dermatitis) on your chin, like I do, avoid applying anything below your cheekbones. 
  6. I repeat, avoid avoid avoid.
  7. Let it soak in/dry for a bit then apply spot treatments and/or whatever else you desire.


I tested Silk Naturals AHA for a month and a half because after nearly a year doing The Acne Experiment, I realize I may not be giving these actives long enough to do their thing. Actually, at the time of writing this, I am still using it. It's been two months and I'm only halfway through the 4 oz bottle. If I continue to use it once per day with a thin application pad (I use Theraderm*), I expect the product will last about 4 months.

The main ingredient in Silk Naturals AHA is lactic acid. If you're not hip to AHAs, know that lactic acid is the gentlest exfoliant available (it is gentler than glycolic acid); it is also very humectant (water attracting). As such, lactic acid is ideal for normal-to-dry skin and anti-aging purposes.

Here's the hot pics:

Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner Before & After - The Acne Experiment
Silk Naturals 8% AHA Before & After :: The Acne Experiment

Lactic Acid Exfoliant Before & After - The Acne Experiment
Lactic Acid Before & After :: The Acne Experiment
I've got less spots on my cheeks, but more on my forehead. Bummer. The exfoliant proved to be a good maintenance product, but it didn't touch the hyperpigmentation. It doesn't do much to prevent clogged pores, but it did prevent a lot of those clogged pores from turning into nasty, inflamed SOBs on my cheeks. The toner also made my skin super smooth to the touch.

POD note: After a few weeks, I figured out that lactic acid is terrible for perioral dermatitis. (Yes, it took me multiple weeks to figure this out. ooof.). I'm always careful to avoid applying products to my chin, but I (slowly) learned that if applied this exfoliant too close, the product will migrate to the trouble spots and flair it the hell up. If you have POD, give exfoliants a 1 inch buffer, at least. I apply it to my forehead & nose, and no lower than my cheekbones. If I did experience a flair-up, a Aztec Clay mask was a great calming treatment. I skip all other products when I do a clay mask, save for a little jojoba oil on my chin (if it looks dry) post-mask.

So, is Silk Naturals an adequate replacement for St. Ives Exfoliating Pads? Yes, I believe it is. Aside from an entirely justified POD flair up, I did not see a major difference in acne severity while using the toner. My skin does seem a bit greasier than it did when I was using St. Ives, however. This could be due to a higher concentration of lactic acid, the aloe in the product, or the fact that it's warm and humid where I live right now. That said, I have oily skin; I don't think Silk Naturals is too much for it, but my forehead is still proving to be a trouble zone. I plan to test out a few other exfoliants (glycolic, mandelic) to see which works best for me.

If you're interested in Silk Naturals, know that you can only order products via their website (they also sell samples weee). Shipping is cheap and fast, so no worries on that front.


* Note on Theraderm pads: These are the thinnest "facial" pads I've seen. They rougher than plain cotton, but way thinner (they absorb/waste less product). Like normal cotton, you'll need to saturate the pad to be able to apply the product adequately; if you want to use less product, cut the pads in half. If you want to create a St. Ives pads situation, these particular pads would be ideal for pre-soaking. They fit perfectly in the St. Ives tub:

St. Ives Exfoliating Pads Alternative - The Acne Experiment

Yes this is a St. Ives tub. (The label peels right off!)
PS: I tested the Silk Naturals toner on my chest and back, and results were... let's just say I got really into Daryl Dixon tees this summer. If you know you handle lactic acid or other chemical exfoliants on your body, pull the trigger on this (it's so cheap!), but I can't say I recommend it from personal experience.

PPS: If this AHA/exfoliant business is confusing, check out my chemical exfoliants guide.

ALL Acne Experiment Posts are listed at The Acne Experiment MOTHER HUB.

Testing Lactic Acid on Adult Acne - The Acne Experiment
Testing Lactic Acid on Adult Acne :: The Acne Experiment

All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment


  1. Hi, if you are still trying out new things I highly recommend the Salicylic Deep Gel Exfoliating Cleanser - Enhanced with Tea Tree Oil & Green Tea Extract from amazon. I have been using this since last year with my clairsonic and it is amazing. It's buy the brand perfect image.

  2. Laughing my a** off reading your experiments one by one especially the aspirin mask one ahhaha. What about The Ordinary products though, have you thought of experimenting on them? Them having plain active ingredients and all.

    1. Thank you! I do want to try the Ordinary products -- specifically their azelaic acid and "Buffet" serum. I've heard many good things.


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