Are They Dupes? The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution VS Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid

by Gio
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!:

Glycolic Acid

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’s why it’s more irritating, especially for sensitive skin.

That’s also what makes it so 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?

What Else Do You Need To Know?

What’s a dupe?

If, for you, it means a product that has almost a completely identical formula to another product, then no, The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid aren’t dupes. The only thing they have in common is the same concentration of glycolic acid. (In this case, Pixi Glow is a better dupe for The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution).

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

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


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 Adore Beauty, 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!

Which one do you prefer, The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution or Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid? Share your pick in the comments below.

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



Claire August 2, 2018 - 3:05 am

Hi Gio, I have a few questions regarding Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid.
– Does all glycolic acid removes whiteheads & blackheads? Because I saw the word “whitehead” in the Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid, does it means it can remove whitehead? Can I remove or prevent whitehead effectively if I use this product twice a week?
– The Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead and The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA2% both has hyaluronic acid in them, does it mean I can skip my usual hyaluronic acid serum after applying either of these AHA products? Is there extra benefit for applying so much hyaluronic acid on our face from different products? Seems like most of the products (yes especially Korean products) already has HA, does it mean we do not need to purchase HA serum seperately?
– When applying any AHA products, should we use cotton pad to swap on our face or use our fingers to massage and tap them in? What’s the difference and does it matter?
– Does AHA products has a low stability formula? What products are usually in a low stability formula? i.e rosehip oil (use within 3 months)
Thanks Gio!

Gio August 5, 2018 - 9:49 am

Hi Claire,

1. I don’t care what brands say, if it can’t get into the pores, it can’t remove whiteheads. And glycolic acid can’t do that. If you have whiteheads, go with salicylic acid instead.
2. This depends on how dehydrated your skin is. Most people won’t need a separate hyaluronic acid serum if they use these exfoliants.
3. You can use either. A cotton pad would absorb some of the product while applying with your finger may provide some exfoliation to them too.
4. If the product has a good preservative system, it should last at least one year.

Hope this helps,

Elisa June 13, 2019 - 6:56 am

Can I use Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid if I also use the Paula’s Choice Niacinamide or I should put them on on separate moments? Also, can Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid be used during pregnancy? Thanks!

Gio July 6, 2019 - 12:33 pm

Elisa, you can use them together. As for pregnancy, experts disagree on whether AHAs are good for mom and baby. It really is a personal call.

sam April 21, 2020 - 2:02 pm

hi gio, can i use Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid after toning with The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7%?

Gio May 15, 2020 - 3:55 pm

Sam, no! Pick one!


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