Are They Dupes? The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution Vs The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner

by Gio
the ordinary glycolic acid toning solution a dupe for the inkey list glycolic acid toner

Is The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner a dupe for The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution?

It sure looks like it. Like The Ordinary, The Inkey List aims to give us actives that work at the cheapest possible price. Heck, the brand even took inspiration from The Ordinary’s black and white packaging!

But are they as good as the original? When it comes to their Glycolic Acid Toner at least, The Inkey List has fallen off the mark. Here’s why:


Derived from sugar cane, Glycolic acid is the most famous member of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid family, a group of exfoliating acids. It has several superpowers:

Sounds too good to be true? Well, there’s a catch… Or two:

  1. Irritation: everything that removes dead skin cells can irritate skin. The lower the dose of GA, the lower the chance of irritation (and its effectiveness).
  2. PH: a high ph neutralises GA, making it useless.

Both The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner have a pH of 3.6 – the sweet spot that makes this acid exfoliate at its best.

The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner does the job a little better. It has a slightly higher concentration of glycolic acid (10% vs 7%) that makes it a little more powerful… and irritating.

Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid: What It Is, What It Does & How To Use It

Ginseng & Tasmanian Pepperberry

Both The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner have simple formulas that let the acid do the bulk of the work.

But The Ordinary has added in a couple of extracts that are very beneficial for your skin:

Well played, The Ordinary.

Related: 4 Things I Learned From Korean Skincare

With Hazel & Alcohol

Glycolic Acid apart, there’s not much else in The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner that benefits skin. But there are a couple of irritants that could spell trouble…

Alcohol and witch hazel. Or should I say, alcohol and alcohol. Witch hazel is so problematic because it’s often distilled in alcohol…

But is alcohol bad? Not if you moisturise well afterwards. Skip this step, and it can dry out and irritate your skin.

Alcohol isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. I’m just disappointed that The Inkey List hasn’t added anything to their toner to counteract its drying effect.

Related: The Truth About Alcohol-Free Skincare Products

What Else Do You Need To Know?

Not much. I told you, The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner is super basic. It’ll exfoliate your skin (a little too harshly, maybe) and that’s about it.

The Ordinary Glycolic And 7% Toning Solution exfoliates, soothes, and hydrates. The formula has a bunch of humectants (glycerin, amino acids and urea) that attract moisture from the air into the skin, keeping it softer for longer.

Related: What The Heck Are Humectants And Why Do You Need Them In Your Skincare Routine?

Which Of The Two Should You Go For?

Sorry, The Inkey List! The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution wins hands down here.

It may be a little less powerful, but it exfoliates skin more gently AND has soothing and hydrating properties to boot.

Remember: when it comes to exfoliation, gentler is better than powerful.

Related: How To Choose The Right Exfoliant For Your Skin Type


The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner (£6.99): Available at Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£6.75): Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Escentual and Feel Unique

Is The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner A Dupe For The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution?

I wouldn’t call them dupe. It may be hard to believe, but The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner is an even more basic version of The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. Unfortunately, it’s more irritating, too.

Have you tried The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner and The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution? Share your fave pick in the comments below.

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.

The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycolic Acid, Propanediol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Alcohol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Betaine, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

Screenshot from 2017 04 30 11 51 35

Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.

Powered by ConvertKit



lilly January 9, 2020 - 4:04 pm

Hi Gio,
I had a bad reaction to The ordinary toner. After few days of using at night, I woke up with big red puffy eyes and some kind of peeling. And I didn’t even use it on my eyes! That why it took me a long while before I found out it was the toner and also I don’t have a sensitive skin really.
Thank you for your good work

Ali January 22, 2020 - 1:03 am

Hi Gio,
Thank you so much for all the knowledge you share with us!
I am binge reading your posts now but the reason I actually started reading your blog is my research about the The Ordinary products.
I have gone through several posts and listed down what I believe would work for me. I think I have got a combination type of skin, 32yo.
Products that I think would be good for me are
Squalane cleanser
Glycolic acid 7%
Salicylic Acid 2% for T zone
Natural moisturizing factors +HA
EUK 0.1 %
Niacinamide 10% + zinc
Hyaluronic Acis 2% + B5
Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate 20% + Vit F
Retinol 1% in Sqalane
I don’t know if I should get them all? Or some? And how to make a routine using them, their order, AM and PM?
Would you be able to help me with that ? That would be awesome, as I don’t want to get in trouble wiith my skin, I want to help her glow 😊

Gio February 8, 2020 - 7:19 am

Hi Ali, I hope you find the blog useful.

I’d love to help you create the best skincare routine for your skin. 🙂 You can book your consultation here:


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.