a korean dupe for the ordinary glycolic acid 7% toning solution

Have you tried getting your hands on a bottle of The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution?

Good luck. This stuff sells out faster than hot cakes. They literally can’t make enough of it. It’s that good. But, in the meantime, how’s a girl going to get her glycolic acid fix?!

Worry not. Korean skincare has you covered. Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid has the same concentration of glycolic acid. Does it work as well?

Let’s find out!:

What Do These Glycolic Acid Exfoliants Have In Common?


Glycolic acid is the smallest member of the Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) family, a group of exfoliants that dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together so they can slough off.

Because it’s so small, glycolic acid penetrates skin deeper than other AHAs, like lactic acid. That makes it more irritating, especially for sensitive skin.

But also more effective. With glycolic acid, you see results way faster. From the first use, your skin looks smoother, brighter and softer. It softens wrinkles, fades away dark spots and gives you a youthful glow.

Bonus points: glycolic acid also hydrates skin. If you’ve got dry, sun-damaged skin, this is the right exfoliating acid for you.

Related: AHAs vs BHA: Which One Should You Use?

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What Else Is In These Glycolic Acid Exfoliants?

The only thing these two exfoliants have in common is the same concentration of glycolic acid. So, not really dupes, are they?

But if you have a looser definition of dupe, i.e. a product that shares the same active ingredients and who cares if the rest of the formula is different, read on.

Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid has the simpler formula: glycolic acid aside, it has a bunch of humectants and niacinamide.

Humectants are moisture magnets: they attract water from the air into the skin, keeping it hydrated. I’m not surprised, this essence has so many. Korean skincare is all about hydration, remember?

Niacinamide is another of my fave ingredients. It does everything: it hydrates skin, reduces the appearance of fine lines and dark spots, it treats acne, soothes irritations and rosacea… You name it, it does it.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, on the other hand, has more types of water to keep your skin hydrated and ginseng to fight wrinkles. 

Ginseng is super popular in Korea so I’m surprised the Cosrx essence doesn’t have it too. Oh well, suffice it to say it’s full of antioxidants that can fight off free radicals before they give you wrinkles and dark spots.

Related: 4 Things I Learned From Korean Skincare

What’s The Texture Like?

They both have a lightweight, runny texture.

What’s The Packaging Like?

They both have see-through bottle. The difference is in the applicator.

Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid has a practical pump applicator.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution has screw cap to be replaced by a dropper-cap.

How To Use Them

Every other night, after cleansing. Don’t use on the same day as retinol.

Which Of The Two Should You Go For?

If you have dry skin, Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid wins hands down. It’s way more hydrating. It’s Korean – how could it not be?

If you’re missing niacinamide from your skincare routine, Cosrx wins again. Niacinamide is something everyone needs in their skincare routine. Period.

If you’re on a budget or want to add ginseng to your skincare routine, go with The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. 

Thing is, there really isn’t a good or bad answer here. Both products exfoliate your skin equally well. So, which one you go for depends on personal preference. And I can’t decide that for you.

Related: Why You Should Add Niacinamide To Your Skincare Routine

the ordinary glycolic acid toning solution

Price & Availability

Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid: $18.00/£16.00 at iHerb, Look Fantastic, Wishtrend and Yes Style

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution: £6.80 at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty

Is The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution A Dupe For Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid?

Nope. The only thing The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid have in common is the active ingredient: 7% glycolic acid. They both exfoliate skin well: whichever one to go for totally comes down to personal preference!

Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid Ingredients

Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycolic Acid, Water, Niacinamide, Sodium Hydroxide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Ethyl Hexanediol

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution Ingredients

Aqua (Water), Glycolic Acid, Rosa damascena flower water, Centaurea cyanus flower water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Propanediol, Glycerin, Triethanolamine, Aminomethyl Propanol, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Aspartic Acid, Alanine, Glycine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Glutamic Acid, Arginine, PCA, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Hexyl Nicotinate, Dextrin, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Gellan Gum, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Chloride, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol