Up until recently, I really preferred my 20-something skin to that of my teenage years. I was mostly battling dryness and hyper-pigmentation, which was so much easier to manage than the bad acne I struggled with for years. Unfortunately, lately I’ve been noticing errant blemishes I wanted to nip in the bud, but I was concerned about using products designed for acne-prone skin because of my fear of increasing my skin’s dryness.
Enter Sweetsation Therapy Cleralysse Toner ($24). Now, I’m a religious toner user, but I usually err on the side of gentle, calming formulas with ingredients like aloe and rose water, and I avoid alcohol-based products like the plague. Cleralysse is probably not something I would have picked up on my own due to it being described as for “acne, blemished and oily skin.” Uh-oh. My skin is far from oily. But I was encouraged by the fact that the number one ingredient is aloe leaf juice, and the clarifying agents are things like witch hazel and lavender extracts, which didn’t set off any alarm bells. The one exception to this was ingredient number three, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), which seemed out of place among the relatively simple formula made of things that were plant-based and recognizable.
I did a little googling, and combining knowledge from various sources, it would seem that MSM is, essentially, sulfur, which is here because it could help reduce sebum production and exfoliate. Several secondary sources pointed to a minimum or lack of actual research on its effectiveness in skincare, though, and note that it has the potential to be irritating and thereby actually increase sebum production.
In practice, I find my results using Cleralysse Toner to be a mixed bag. It has a slightly sharp, medicinal smell, but it’s not very strong and fades quickly, and the texture is that of a thin liquid. I like the plastic (easily recyclable) packaging, but I wish the applicator hole was bigger; I feel like it takes forever to soak a cotton round. It did dry out my skin, not an extraordinary amount, but I find that tight sensation so irritating that I eventually stopped using it as an all-over toner and switched to more of a spot-treatment approach. There was a slight reduction in the redness and inflammation on my blemishes with both application methods, but it didn’t seem to stop new blemishes from forming (even when used all over) or do anything to address some of my other complaints like clogged pores or blackheads.
However, I found two off-label uses for Cleralysse that make it worthwhile: as an odor eliminator and treatment for razor burn. If you want to avoid some beauty TMI here, skip to the next paragraph. I don’t use antiperspirant because I don’t think the ingredients are safe, but I constantly struggle with staying fresh using deodorant alone. I found that using Cleralysse essentially as an under-arm toner after my shower and before deodorant knocked out any residual odor AND helped with razor burn (it didn’t burn on me post-shave, but I don’t really have that problem, so if you do, proceed with caution). I started using it on my feet after long days for the same purpose and on any razor burn that occurred on my legs, and it’s my new secret weapon for awkward beauty problems.
No complaints on the 6-oz. size, though I think the price is a little steep. I’d say something between 15 to 20 dollars would be more realistic for the results I saw. I’m not sure I love it enough to repurchase, but I’m pleased that with the way I’m currently using it, what I have remaining should last me a long time.