I was so excited when I found a dupe for Pixi Glow. Bravura Revitalising Ginseng Toner with 5% Glycolic Acid was pretty much the same thing, only cheaper. Then, they ruined it: the price went up, the size went down… In the end, Pixi Glow turned out how to be the cheaper option!

Then, The Ordinary came along. Their Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution looks like the perfect candidate to knock Pixi Glow off its throne and gain the crown for best exfoliating toner out there.

Let the battle begin… and the best toner win:

What Ingredients Do These Exfoliating Toners Have In Common?


Glycolic acid is the most famous member of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid family, a group of exfoliants derived from fruits and sugar cane (GA is derived from sugar cane).

Glycolic acid is my fave AHA, too, because it’s a multitasker:

Awesome, right? There are two catches:

  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.

Pixi Glow has 5% glycolic acid at a ph of 4.1. This is fairly high. Roughly 1.8% of glycolic acid survives to exfoliates your skin.

The Ordinary has a 7% glycolic acid at a ph of 3.5-3.7. This is much more friendly to GA. Roughly 4.4% survives unscathed.

The bottom line? The Ordinary is more effective but also more irritating.

P.S. At this dose, we’re talking irritating for sensitive skin. Most people will be able to use these toners without problems.

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

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Did you know that aloe is 99.5% made of water? The goodies that make it so soothing and moisturizing are in the remaining 0.5%!

Some of these goodies are called polysaccharides and they’re more abundant in aloe vera juice than aloe vera water. Why this matters?

Because Pixi is using a dollop of the juice and The Ordinary a few drops of the water. That makes the Pixi toner a little bit more hydrating.

Related: Can Aloe Vera Treat Sunburns And Stretch Marks?


Hexyl Nicotinate is a vasodilator that “causes the blood vessels near to the surface of the skin to increase in diameter and to increase their blood flow.”

It doesn’t really do much for the skin but I had to mention it because it can be irritating if you have super sensitive skin.

​If you’re feeling completely intimidated and overwhelmed by The Ordinary skincare I recommend taking Extraordinary Skin With The Ordinary. A The Ordinary speed training created by my scientist friend Cheryl Woodman. Cheryl’s helped hundreds of ladies see real-life results, first hand. Click here to find out more about the course and see their reviews. (affiliate link)

Extraordinary Skin With The Ordinary---How to Get Makeupless Skin You Love

What Else Is In These Exfoliating Toners?

They both are rich in humectants that hydrate skin with a sprinkle of antioxidants thrown in for good measure.

The Ordinary formula is slightly different because it features several types of water and plenty of amino acids (Pixi has amino acids, too – just not as many). Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, including collagen and elastin. They also hydrate skin and help it heal faster.

Long story short: you need amino acids in your skincare routine.

Related: Why You Should Add Amino Acids To Your Skincare Routine

What’s The Texture Like?

They both have light, watery textures.

What’s The Packaging Like?

The both come in see-through bottles that don’t protect glycolic acid from the light that may spoil them. Store them somewhere dark. Pixi has green accents while The Ordinary is white.

How To Use Them

Two or three nights a week, after cleansing. Don’t use on the same night as retinoids or other harsh actives.

the ordinary glycolic acid toning solution

Which One Of The Two Should You Go For?

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. It’s hands down the most effective of the two.

But if your skin is seriously dry and needs something gentler and more hydrating, Pixi Glow is the way to go.


Pixi Glow (£18.00): Available at Asos and Cult Beauty

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£7.00): Available at Asos, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty

Is The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution A Dupe For Pixi Glow?

Yes, yes, yes! The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is a dupe for Pixi Glow. A more effective one, too!

Pixi Glow Ingredients

Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Glycolic Acid (5%), Ammonium Glycolate, Glycerin, Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Hexyl Nicotinate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Biotin, Polysorbate 20, Fragrance.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

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, Tasmania 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.