Are They Dupes?: Pixi Glow VS The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

by Gio

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 mls were fewer… 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:

Ingredient Analysis

Glycolic Acid

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 it without problems.

Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid

Aloe Vera

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.

Hexyl Nicotinate

This 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.

What About The Rest Of The Formulas?

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


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

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

Yes, yes, yes! 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 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, 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.

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SherryG May 22, 2017 - 3:05 pm

I have an allergy to fragrance (Pixi) and sensitive skin, especially to botanical extracts such as the horse chestnut (Pixi) and the rosewater (The Ordinary). So neither one is an option. I can use Alpha Skincare or Paula’s Choice, as both are fragrance free.

Gio May 27, 2017 - 7:04 pm

Sherryg, what a shame! It would be so much better if all skincare were fragrance-free.

Porcelina May 22, 2017 - 3:46 pm

I’m so glad you posted this – I am nearing the end of my bottle of Pixi and found The Ordinary one whilst looking for a cheaper alternative. You’ve confirmed that I should buy it!

Gio May 27, 2017 - 7:05 pm

Porcelina, I’m sure you’ll love it just as much, if not more!

kaido May 29, 2017 - 7:29 pm

Can oily or combo skin types still use glycolic acid treatment, maybe just once a week? The collagen-boosting benefit sounds too good to ignore, or do salicylic acid also do this?

Gio June 3, 2017 - 2:36 pm

Kaido, no salicylic acid doesn’t boost collagen. You can use both but in moderation. Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night Serum has both, I believe. 🙂

Editrix June 3, 2017 - 5:04 am

Great review! I have dry, sensitive skin. Can I use the Ordinary one over a base of aloe vera? Or spray some aloe vera or soothing mist right after the toner? Will this reduce help with possible irritation? Thank you!

Gio June 3, 2017 - 2:37 pm

Editrix, yes, the aloe vera should help. 🙂

Michelle June 15, 2017 - 2:34 am

Can I use the Ordinary Toner before their 10% Lactic Acid in the PM?

Gio June 17, 2017 - 12:23 pm

Michelle, glycolic acid and lactic acid are both exfoliants. It’s best to use only one or you may strip away too many layers of skin.

Crissy July 23, 2017 - 4:12 pm

Can you use the Ordinary Toner with Sunday Riley Good Genes? Thanks!

Gio July 28, 2017 - 4:45 pm

Crissy, if your skin can tolerate a double dose of exfoliation, yes. But I personally wouldn’t use them together.

Sarah August 23, 2017 - 4:57 pm

Sorry, no. I have used both of them and they certainly are not dupes. Both have very different ingredient lists. GT gave me amazing results whilst Ordinary’s toner did absolutely nothing which is a shame cos I really wanted to like it. YMMV with the results you’ll get from both but to call it a dupe is misleading info.

Gio August 26, 2017 - 7:55 am

Sarah, yes they have different ingredients but the actives are the same and that’s what determines the performance of a product. I’m sorry you didn’t like The Ordinary. I’m using it right now and it’s working well for me.

Munirah November 9, 2017 - 11:18 am

Can i use The Ordinary Glycolic Acid at the same skincare time with Niacinamide ?

Gio November 26, 2017 - 12:05 pm

Munirah, yes you can.

Marelyn January 29, 2018 - 5:59 pm

Hi! I’ve read a reviews saying that I should separate the Glycolic and the Niacinamide because the glycolic has a Low pH while the Niacinamide has a Higher pH.. you can check this link why
So I’m and lil confuse here what to do.. which is safer? Please let me know

Gio February 2, 2018 - 3:52 pm

Marelyn, there’s a small possibility that using glycolic acid and niacinamide together may make both less effective but it’s unlikely to be a significant difference. In any case, if you’re worried, use niacinamide in the morning and glycolic acid at night.

E.S. November 26, 2017 - 1:37 am

I used the Ordinary glycolic toner once and my skin prickled and stung. Is this due to an allergy or sensitivity like the first commenter or because it is so strong? My skin can tolerate daily use of the Mario Badescu glycolic cleanser.

Gio December 3, 2017 - 7:15 pm

E.S. Glycolic acid is very diluted in a cleanser. The Ordinary toner is more powerful so it may indeed prickle because your skin isn’t used to it. A mild tingling is perfectly normal but if it stung really badly than it’s an allergy. In the first case, I’d suggest you start using it only a couple of times a week to get your skin used to it. Did you have any other symptoms apart from the sting? If there was redness or swelling it’s more likely to be an allergy so avoid.

Kyla April 1, 2018 - 2:57 pm

when fading of hyperpigmentation and blemishes which wins? Pixi Glow or The Ordinary?

Gio April 7, 2018 - 3:47 pm

Kyla, I’d say The Ordinary because it has a slightly higher dose of glycolic acid.

Cami May 16, 2019 - 12:12 am

I currently use the regimen that you recommend for acne/aging skin. Where would I use glycolic acid in that regimen?

Gio May 31, 2019 - 12:43 pm

Cami, if you have acne, salicylic acid is a much better option for you. If you really want to use glycolic too, get an exfoliant like Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, which has both.

karen johnson July 24, 2019 - 6:51 am

I was close to getting obagi hydroquinone until i happened upon this wonderful website..
I m a Black woman looking to even out my skin tone, will this Ordinary w/glycolic acid do that for me? What reginen would be good to even my skin tone and look fresh, I have dull skin and i use skinceuticals ce ferulic and a ceravue moisturizer. I’ve used hydroquinone before 4% Obagi for about 4 years and finally my dermatologist asked me to stop using it and my skin hasn’t been as bright since. sad

Gio August 8, 2019 - 2:45 pm

Karen, follow this routine for brighter skin:

But switch hydroquinone for the ordinary azelaic acid. Hope it helps!


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