Pixi Glow Tonic vs The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner

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

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.

If you feel like these acids sting a little too much then apply a layer or two of a hydrating toner before the exfoliating toner, this tip is a life-saver!

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.

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 and lower pH. 

(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.

Once your skin has built a tolerance to acids, you can 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.


  1. I have acne scarring do you recommend ordinary or pixie but I’m super oily as well and breakouts…..

    1. Pixi! The Ordinary leaves a tacky finish so that might be an issue for you.

  2. Hi,
    This is so far the most detailed comparison I’ve found. Do you have any idea how is The Ordinary’s compared to higher brand of AHA exfoliant e.g Paula Choice’s? I tried a sample size of 10% AHA and felt satisfied with no stinging feels, but the price kept me from buying full size. I’m still trying to decide which to splurge

    1. Hey!! Thank you SO much. I have tried Drunk Elephant’s glycolic serum and it was super gentle and worked, I felt slight to no irritation. I still get the warm feeling for the first few minutes of using The Ordinary one. Haven’t tried Paula’s Choice yet but quite positive that it’ll feel gentler. 🙁

  3. Curious your thoughts on alternating with Retinol and Vitamin C. I was using Glow with The Ordinary Buffet peptides, but see that now The Ordinary is recommending that we not do that! I alternate between one of the weak The Ordinary Retinols at night and Vitamin C, and assume that I shouldn’t add Glow on as well. Just go every three days? (i.e. Retinal on the first night, Vit C on the 2nd, Glow on the 3rd). Alternately, I was thinking I could wash my face and use Glow first thing in the morning, then finish my morning routine after dressing and breakfast giving it about 45 mintues between Glow and Buffet… would that be enough time to ensure the two don’t interact poorly? From what I understand the use of acids renders the peptides ineffective.

    1. Yes even I saw TO recommending to not use peptides with direct acids but other brands support these two combinations so it’s slightly confusing for me too. You can do Vitamin C in the morning as vit c combined with sunscreen gives better protection against free radicals than sunscreen alone! Alternate between retinol and glow tonic at nights. You can give a gap of 30 minutes between Buffet and vit c in the morning.
      The reason behind not using peptides and direct acids was that peptides lose effectiveness under low pH. So if you’re going to use glow tonic + buffet then I don’t think the combo would be bad as glow tonic has a higher pH than most of the other acids, somewhere around 5-6 which is the same as buffet. If I’ve missed something please let me know! 🙂

  4. After using Glow Tonic , what product has to be applied. I have normal to dry skin . Can I used BUffet from Ordinary after Glow tonic

    1. You can apply a hyaluronic acid serum (from The Ordinary) and then COSRX Snail cream. This is what the ordinary has mentioned about using buffet with other acids “It is best to not use Peptides in the same routine as the following products: Direct acids, LAA (L-Ascorbic Acid) and ELAA (Ethylated Ascorbic Acid). ” so I wouldn’t mix to be on a safer side. But Pixi is quite mild so if you want to experiment you can.

  5. Ashley says:

    Can we use The Body Shop Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution after using the Pixi Glow Tonic?

    1. Shouldn’t be problem as long as it works for your skin.

  6. Stella says:

    hi! i’ve neer used an acid on my skin before but now i wanna start using glycloid acid. i have an oily skin, with blackheads and pimples sometimes; according to your guide, i’m going to buy the pixi glow tonic, but i still need an advice: can i use hyaluronic acid (like the “the ordinary” one) after this tonic? Otherwise, which product do you suggest me to moisturize my skin? thank you in advance (and sorry for my bad english too but it isn’t my mother language)

    1. Hello! Yes please start with pixi glow tonic and you can use it with hyaluronic acid. When starting out please use it only thrice a week at night and be very regular with sunscreen application whenever you’re out in the sun as glycolic acid increase skin’s sensitivity towards sun! And for moisturiser there are quite a few good ones for oily skin, you can buy any of these that match your budget, liking and availability: Krave oat so simple cream, cosrx snail cream (mostly as a night cream for intense soothing and moisturisation), pixi phenomenal gel, drunk elephant protini, PURITO Deep Sea Pure Water Cream, etc.

  7. tabitha says:

    I’ve been using Pixi Glow Tonic for a couple years now, and I think Pixi just no longer works like it used to on my skin. (probably because my skin is already used to it). Do you think I should try the ordinary acid because im interested but i kinda scared it’ll make my skin worse

    1. There’s absolutely nothing to be scared about. You can surely start using The Ordinary toner, use it thrice a week at night and if you feel there’s some stinging then apply a hydrating toner first and then go with the ordinary as this would act as a buffer and reduce initial irritation. Make sure you don’t apply any acids on damp skin 🙂

  8. I love this review, do you have a review for the glow tonic serum and the ordinary serum?

    1. Hey, thank you so much! I have a review on the ordinary glycolic acid toner but not for Pixi glow tonic. Here’s the one for TO http://thebeautywonk.com/the-ordinary-glycolic-acid-7-toning-solution/

      1. Stella says:

        so basically a soft cleanser, pixi glow tonic thrice a week, hyaluronic serum and one of the creams you suggested me could be a great routine for a beginner like me?

        1. Yes exactly. Also, at night please double cleanse. A cleansing balm/oil would be the best choice. Double cleansing played a major role in reducing blackheads and clogged pores for my oily skin. Some good options are Klairs Cleansing Oil, Heimish Cleansing Balm, Purito Cleansing Oil..all korean cruelty-free brands. Currently, yesstyle.com is having multiple sales till Dec 2 so you can buy and save. 2019CYBER & RIFAT10 will give you a total of 20% off. The moisturisers I mentioned, you can find a few of those on yesstyle too. Hope this helps!

  9. Cindy says:

    Very nicr and in depth review..please what moisturizer can i use after the pixi glow tonic.i just started using clinique even better skin tone correcting moisturiser…c

    1. Thank you so much! Have you tried the COSRX-Advanced Snail 92 All In One Cream? It’s very moisturising and skin-soothing. Highly recommended. And you need a tiny bit!

  10. Shivani Sharma says:

    Thanks for the recommendations! Good to know. For oils I would add Tarte Maracuja oil. Can buy a small bottle for around $18 USD

    1. Oh! Thank you for suggesting it, I’ll look into it as I haven’t tried any Tarte skincare 😀

  11. ellen says:

    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 🙂

  12. Rida Rehman says:

    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. Leiry says:

        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.

          1. Hi Rifat..
            I have hyperpigmentation and dull uneven tone after delivery please suggest

            1. Morning: Facewash, moisturiser, vitamin c serum (Klairs is good for starters but store it in fridge), sunscreen
              Night: Facewash, pixi glow tonic (alternate nights only), moisturiser
              This will help.

  13. dita says:

    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.

      1. thanks for the in-depth review of these products! so helpful! ❤️ just want to share my experience with Pixi (not really sure if it was the cause), but after a few days of using my Pixi glow tonic, my lips began to feel dry and chapped. I didnt feel any stinging effect while applying the glow tonic, but as soon as it dries out, thats when my lips gets itchy and irritated that I really have to slather a good amount of lip balm. Do you think the Pixi has something to do with it? cause i also apply pixi around the mouth area (bottom of the nose, chin, sides of the mouth) and always avoid the lips. Im still using Pixi for almost 2 mos now, and despite the chapping of my lips (which got better now), it’s still a great product!

        1. Thank you so much! If not using Pixi around your mouth improves the skin there it means it’s probably because of that product only (the rest of the routine stays same). I haven’t heard of this happen to anyone else but it’s still possible. The product has fragrance that sensitive skin doesn’t usually like and that could result in weird reactions or there’s some ingredient you’re allergic to (Just a possibility!). It’s quite difficult to understand the reason. Also, check your lip balm. I was once using this burt’s bees one that had gotten a bit old (>1 year) I didn’t pay attention and used it. My lips would get super itchy and dry and sometimes swell the next day.🤷

          But thank you for sharing your experience here with me and I’m so glad it’s working for you! If you ever feel like stepping up your game, you can try The Ordinary too. 🙂

  14. Renuka says:

    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!

  15. Tanu says:

    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! 🙂

  16. Ayesha says:

    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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