Review: Geek & Gorgeous 101 – Calm Down – Exfoliating Solution

Where to purchase: Available on the Geek & Gorgeous Website: LINK

Price: £23.36

Volume: 100ml (30 ml is available too for £8.34)

Made in: Hungary

What is it?: A Gentle Exfoliating Liquid (Toner) containing PHAs with added ingredients to soothe, protect, hydrate and exfoliate the skin.

What does it do?: Exfoliate the skin less potently than AHAs, PHAs work to remove dead skin from the cells surface but without the irritation (However this does mean slightly slower results than regular AHAs). Also, PHAs are known to moisturise the skin and provide antioxidant protection to the skin. BHA is added to provide anti-inflammatory and pore-exfoliating properties.

Aims to: Gently exfoliate the skin (reduce blackheads and even out the skin’s texture) while keeping it moisturised (not drying it out).

Supposedly Good for: All Skin types, including sensitive skins + those prone to redness and irritation as well as during the summer (if easing up on exfoliation during the summer) or in conjunction with a powerful retinoid in one’s routine (so as not to over-do it to the skin).

What I think: I agree! My Oily-Combo, Sensitive Skin loves gentle, water light formulas like this one. The brand recommends this to those starting out on exfoliating acids and I would also agree with that statement. It’s a great way to take it slow.


Vegan?: No as this contains Lactobionic acid which is from Lactose.

Cruelty Free?: Yes

How long does it last after opening?: 8 Months after opening, and If unopened; it is 2 years from production.

pH: 3.5-3.9

Packaging: Plastic Bottle with a Screw-Top Lid and a Flip top cap to prevent spillage. The small hole should mean you don’t apply too much, but this is so lightweight, the product can sort of just fall out.

Patreon Takes a Stand Against Hate - Leaf&Core
Click on the Logo!

Support the Blog / Instagram / Youtube on Patreon! Includes Perks and Benefits such as EXCLUSIVE Content! LINK HERE

Directions: Apply after cleansing the skin (use it as a toner). Swipe with a cotton pad or apply with the fingers (pat it in). Wait until the product has absorbed before moving on to the next step of skincare. (Do not use if you have an allergy to Aspirin).

NOTE: The Brand state that you can alternate uses of this i.e. use this every other day and interchange it with Cheer up, or use Smooth out twice a week and then Calm down the rest of the week, so as to find the right exfoliating balance for you. I personally would say use this, finish it, and then bunk up to the Cheer up, finish that and either repurchase OR bunk up to Smooth out (I’m still trying to work up the nerve to use Smooth out as I’m happy with Cheer Up. But I may use Smooth out Once a week and Cheer Up twice a week).

How I use it: I apply this in the PM, every other day (Oily-Combo, Sensitive Skin) as I use Retinoids on alternative days. I apply this with a cotton pad and swipe the face after cleansing. I definitely leave this on the skin to absorb fully. I move on with a serum, not another extremely watery product otherwise it may disrupt this solution.


Key Ingredients (Exfoliants): 3.2%PHA (Gluconolactone + Lactobionic Acid) – These gently exfoliate (resurface the skin’s surface) but also but also hydrate and give antioxidant protection. 0.8% Salicylic acid (BHA) is added – Oil soluble and therefore exfoliates the pores. It is also anti-inflammatory.

Other Notable Ingredients: Phragmites Kharka + Poria Coca Extract – These help soothe the skin (Think ‘Cica’). Nopal Cactus + Yeast Extract (I believe this ingredient is in all the G&G Exfoliating Solutions) – A pairing of Cactus + Yeast Extract (these contain minerals + peptides) to both soothe + hydrate the skin. Panthenol – Soothing + Moisturising.

Full Ingredients: Water/Aqua, Glycereth-26, Gluconolactone, Lactobionic Acid, Propanediol, Salicylic Acid, Panthenol, Glycerin, Opuntia Ficus‐Indica (Prickly Pear) Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Phragmites Kharka (Topical Reed) Extract, Poria Cocos Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol

NOTE: The Incidecoder have a full ingredient breakdown HERE

I really like the addition of soothing ingredients and skin-beneficial ingredients. You can see why this product is marketed towards sensitive and sensitive-prone skins as well as skins on heavy retinol routines. This should both soothe and not exacerbate the skin’s condition further.

Texture: The company describe this as weightless and I would agree. This is a Lightweight, watery toner (watch the video below to see how it runs down the hand). Doesn’t feel sticky or tacky no matter how much you apply. No oily or greasy finish either, this simply feels like water. In terms of hydration, this definitely does provide some (I wouldn’t call it a drink of water) hydration to the skin and feels like it’s prepped the skin too.


Does this Sting if the Skin has been Irritated / Sensitised by Shaving/Heavy Retinol Use?: Yes this still stings if the skin is badly irritated and if applied straight after shaving.

Summer or Winter?: In terms of texture, this is so lightweight, that it can be used in the summer. Additionally, this can be used in the summer as it’s gentle enough to not make the skin more sensitive to the sun. HOWEVER always use an SPF.

Layerable?: Yes, very lightweight.


Video Swatch:

Hopefully you can see just how lightweight and watery this product is!

Fragrance?: No added Fragrance + EO (Doesn’t have a strong smell)

Good Under Makeup?: Yes it’s fine as it’s just like water

Will I use until Completion?: Yes!

How Long will that take?: Another 2.5 months of almost Daily PM Use.

How long have I been using this?: For about 2.5 Months and I’m halfway through.

The Effect?: This feels slightly hydrating (I wouldn’t say massively) when applying, and then the long-term effects of using this, I do think it’s helped with my blackheads (that’s the main reason why I wanted to use this) and I think it’s helped even out the skin’s tone! This has not ruined or irritated my skin.

Support the Blog!

Giving a donation really helps with the maintenance of the blog! any money made will go towards purchasing products for review!


What I like:

  • Cruelty-Free
  • Fragrance + EO Free
  • Lightweight
  • Layerable
  • Gentle (Great for Sensitive Skins)
  • Did not damage or ruin my skin
  • Added Skin-beneficial ingredients
  • Does help with Pores + Skin Tone (but…)

What I don’t like:

  • (…) It takes longer to see tone/texture results compared to a higher % AHA or more potent AHA like the Cheer Up or the Smooth Out Solutions.
  • May be too gentle for some (i.e. want some more potency)
  • Not deeply hydrating

Overall Rating and Conclusion: 4/5 – An overall lovely, gentle toner that does help exfoliate the skin (actually works, it helped my pores too). I like how skin-beneficial and skin soothing ingredients were added to make this product suitable for sensitive skins. It’s a great beginner exfoliating toner/solution for those starting out, and it’s great for those using heavy-duty retinol and don’t want to irritate/aggrevate the skin, but would like to add some PHAs/BHAs to one’s routine. I have enjoyed using this and not worrying about over-doing it. I will switch it sometimes with my Cheer Up Solution for when I want a bit more of an exfoliating kick from time to time.

Would I repurchase?: If I wanted a gentle, waterlight lightly exfoliating BHA/PHA toner? Yes! I think overall however I still prefer the Cheer Up Exfoliating Toner as it’s slightly stronger.

Dupe?: The Benton PHA Toner Contains Lactiobionic Acid as well at 3% (But no BHA). I think a Step up Dupe that is the same texture is the Cheer Up Exfoliating Toner. An even stronger exfoliant with this same liquid Texture is the Smooth Out toner.

My Skin Type: I am acne prone and have slightly dehydrated combo skin. My skin is usually tight where the cheeks and eye area is and the outer parts of my face. My T zone is oily. My skin isn’t a fan of thick/heavy formulas so I opt for lightweight formulas to prevent it from clogging up. My skin doesn’t like essential oils either and I try to avoid fragrance when I can.

Disclaimer: I am a skincare enthusiast and not a skin expert. I am not qualified to give out dermatological advice. This type of advice should only be given by a medical practitioner. Upon trying / using any of the reviewed products on the blog, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings and please seek medical advice if needed.

Follow me on IG for Updates!

Note: I earn a small commission when you purchase through affiliate links, which helps me purchase products for review + also help improve the Blog! If you would like to support me, thank you ever so much! and if not, that’s fine – I hope you enjoy my posts! 

3 thoughts on “Review: Geek & Gorgeous 101 – Calm Down – Exfoliating Solution

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s