Pixi Glow Tonic vs The Ordinary Glycolic Acid – Which Is Better?

Pixi Glow Tonic vs The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner

Pixi Glow Tonic or The Ordinary Glycolic Acid?

Often times I get this question from a lot of people on Instagram, which is better: Pixi Glow Tonic or The Ordinary Glycolic Acid? Which one should I buy? Which is effective? What would suit me? I started my acid journey with The Ordinary but a few months ago, Pixi sent me a few of their skincare products including their highly-raved Glow Tonic! So I thought this would be my chance to put the Pixi Glow Tonic vs The Ordinary Glycolic Acid debate to rest.

I have been using Pixi thrice a week ever since I received it and love the experience but if you’ve been a long time reader, you’d know how obsessed I am with The Ordinary. Grab a cup of coffee and read this detailed post where I compare the two much-raved products.

What does glycolic acid even do?

Before I jump on to the comparison between the two most famous glycolic acid toners available, let me first tell you about the benefits of introducing glycolic acid in your skincare routine. Glycolic acid is an AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) that gently exfoliates your skin by taking off the dead skin cells on the skin’s surface and reveal new, fresh skin. If you’re someone who’s struggling with whiteheads, uneven skin tone, texture and enlarged pores, glycolic acid is exactly what you need. And that’s not all! For those struggling with bumps all over their body or ingrown hair due to shaving/ waxing, glycolic acid is your saviour! And both these products that I’m about to compare solve these problems.

However, if you’re an oily skin type who’s looking for something to help with acne and blackheads, you should try The Ordinary Salicylic Acid. I love to use that as an exfoliator as well as a spot treatment and guys, it works!

Packaging of the ordinary glycolic acid toning solution
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid & Its Packaging

Price: Pixi is USD 15 for 100ml, USD 29 for 250ml & The Ordinary is USD 12.50 for 240ml.

Availability: You can buy both of these from cultbeauty, Pixi’s website and The Ordinary’s website.

Whose Packaging is Better?

Pixi Glow Tonic comes in a plastic bottle with a screw cap and is available in 3 different sizes – 15ml, 100ml and 250ml. While The Ordinary Glycolic Acid comes in a plastic bottle with a metal screw cap which is to be replaced by a nozzle cap (pretty similar to a ketchup bottle) but is only available in 1 size – 240ml. Pixi does have a huge 500ml bottle that comes with a pump but I’ve seen that in their PR packages and they put in on sale on their website a very few times.

Pixi Glow Tonic Packaging
Pixi Glow Tonic Packaging

The packaging of The Ordinary makes it easier to use but since Pixi offers different sizes, we can try out with a smaller bottle to see how it works for us. Both of these products take forever to finish up!


The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner doesn’t have a pleasant smell, it’s slightly chemical-like and is a subtle reminder of my Chemistry lab. Why? Because it doesn’t have added fragrance. Fragrance is added in cosmetics to hide the smell of raw ingredients and it gives the products a luxurious feel. But it can also irritate and sensitise your skin and it is usually advised to stay away from them. The Pixi Glow Tonic smells really nice and the credit goes to the presence of (as you might have guessed it) ‘fragrance’. However, I have not heard of anyone that had a bad experience with the Glow Tonic.

Ingredients of Pixi Glow Tonic
Spot ‘Fragrance’!


They’re both watery in texture. The Ordinary is pale yellow in colour while Pixi Glow Tonic is light orange. On applying, Pixi gets completely absorbed into the skin without giving any sticky or tacky feel but The Ordinary Glycolic Acid feels a little tacky on my oily skin.


The main difference between both the products is the difference in concentration of Glycolic Acid, their hero ingredient. Pixi Glow Tonic has 5% of it while The Ordinary has 7% Glycolic Acid which makes it slightly more effective but might also feel a little too harsh especially if you’re just starting out with an acid routine and/or have sensitive skin.

How to use them?

Using either of these 3-4 times a week is more than enough. Cleanse your face and apply a few drops of either of the two toners, wait for it to get absorbed and move on with the rest of the products in your routine. You can drench a cotton pad to apply it all over your face or switch to the good old hands. I prefer to take 2-4 drops in my palm and pat it on my face, this saves you some product as well as cotton.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner
How to use it?

Note: If you’re someone who’s not very experienced with acids, it’s the best to avoid using Salicylic acid, Lactic acid, Azelaic acid, Retinol & Vitamin C in the same routine as Glycolic Acid.

Experience of using Pixi Glow Tonic & The Ordinary Glycolic Acid

Now that I’ve compared the high points of both these products with some technical beauty jargons, it all comes down to how does it feel to use these products. Do they sting? Are they comfortable on your skin? The product’s efficacy is important but what’s the point if you’re not able to even use them!

As mentioned earlier, I love that Pixi Glow Tonic doesn’t leave a sticky feel after application while The Ordinary does, so if you have oily skin like me and live in a humid place, this might be an important factor for you. But since you only have to use it at night, you might bear the tackiness.

Pixi Glow Tonic Review
Pixi Glow Tonic

Secondly, 7% glycolic acid is no joke especially if you have sensitive skin. I started my acid journey with The Ordinary Glycolic Acid and the first week, it stung badly for the first few minutes. You can check my detailed review on it. My skin did build tolerance overtime but with Pixi, the stinging is very low, close to negligible. In short, the experience of using Pixi Glow Tonic is pleasant. Lastly, I have noticed slightly better & quicker results with The Ordinary Glycolic acid due to the higher concentration. 

(But please don’t assume you won’t get the same benefits from Pixi. It works too!) Both products have their pros & cons but what do I buy now, Rifat? You have confused me even more now! 

Well, I’m sorry for confusing you! But I wanted to bring out all the minute details of both the products since the question “Pixi or The Ordinary?” is the third most controversial one. (the first two being Jaclyn Hill’s lipsticks and James Charles vs Tati)

Which Is Better?

After reading all the points, if you’re not still able to make a decision then here’s a little tip from me. If you don’t have a sensitive skin type/ have already used acids before and need something stronger and effective, go for The Ordinary 7% Glycolic Acid Toner and use it as I’ve directed. But if you have sensitive skin, start with Pixi. Take advantage of their various available sizes and buy the smallest one, even that would last you a good 1-2 months. By that time, your skin will be able to build a tolerance to acids and then switch to The Ordinary. I think now all your doubts are cleared! If not, shoot your questions in the comment section below and I’ll answer them all.

14 Replies to “Pixi Glow Tonic vs The Ordinary Glycolic Acid – Which Is Better?”

  1. Amazing article! Can’t wait to go read your whole blog ((: I think I’m going to start with the Pixi, like you recommend.
    Two questions– if I’m using Retinol, would it be okay to use both of these products on alternating nights? Or is that maybe too much?
    Also, would you recommend using Hyaluronic acid serum after Glycolic acid toner? Or perhaps a face oil?
    anyways thanks so much! I have been wondering about this for a while (: x

    1. Hey! Thank you so much 🙂 Yes, it’s absolutely fine to use glycolic acid with retinol on alternate nights. And check out The Inkey List Hyaluronic acid, it’s very hydrating and not at all tacky. The ordinary also has one Hyaluronic Acid called 2% HA + B5, another amazing option but it feels slightly sticky especially if you have combination-oily skin type. For oils, Herbivore Lapis Facial Oil is excellent, non-sticky and hydrating but on a pricier side. Hope I answered your questions, feel free to hit back 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for this wonderful review! Made the decision so easy. I’m using a glycolic acid toner and it is so tacky. Wanted to see if I got a bad batch or something. Loved reading this in depth review. Much love.

    1. No, you definitely didn’t get a bad batch, that’s just how it is. And thank you so much for such kind words Rida 🙂

      1. I used the Pixi Glow Tonic and I really love it but I’m going to try the Ordinary toner. Bigger bottle for a better price you can’t go wrong.

        1. Yes, you should definitely go for a higher concentration with The Ordinary one this time. I love it for the price and use it to exfoliate my (strawberry) legs and underarms too.

  3. Do u think we still need hydrating toner after we use exfoliating toner?
    In my case, I use Pixi then I use Thayers Witch Hazel. Btw, I have normal skin, no acne (sometimes a bit dry).

    1. It’s not necessary to use a hydrating toner unless your skin feels dry. You can go to your next skincare step be it an essence/ serum /moisturizer.

  4. So much research has gone inside this post..well done..btwn a small doubt, I have oily skin and I am using acids already.. Is it ok to use ordinary glycolic one??

    1. Hey! Thank you so much 🙂 Depends on which acid you’re using. You can try glycolic acid but alternate it between other acids, try not to use them in the same routine. If you have a leave-on BHA treatment then use that on M/W/F and glycolic acid on the rest of the days and same with whichever other acid you’re using. Hope this helps!

  5. I have pigmentation on my arms & my derma bas suggested TO glycolic acid after taking bath. Now should i use some sort of moisturiser on my arms after that or leave it as it is and use moisturiser on other alternate nights when i am not using the acid. Pls reply.

    1. Hey! If your skin doesn’t feel dry after applying the TO glycolic acid, you don’t need to apply any moisturiser as glycolic acid has some moisture content too. However, if you feel that your skin is dry you can apply any body lotion that you have over it. It’s absolutely fine either way. Hope this helps! 🙂

  6. Does Pixi give free shipping like Cultbeauty? Because Cult Beauty only has the big bottle of Pixi 😌

    1. Nope, sadly they don’t 🙁 Get in touch with some sellers on Instagram, they stock the smaller bottles.

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