I switched from using the Pixi Glow Tonic for acid toning to The ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning solution a little less than a year ago, just before the winters started. Before I jump into the review, let me put it out there for any newbie reading this: I started using the Pixi Glow Tonic as my stepping stone for my acid toning routine. Whatever is my experience with this product might not be for you especially if you are just starting into acid toning or even if you are a pro and use multiple acids and retinols in your routine. Now that we have that out of the way, lets start with the review.
What is it and what does it claim to do:
Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution is a water-based toner with glycolic acid and botanical extracts. This treatment gently exfoliates the skin to restore a clear, radiant appearance. It improves the look of uneven tone and texture with regular use.
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.
Key Ingredients breakdown:
- Glycolic acid: an alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the surface of the skin.
- Tasmanian Pepperberry: a botanical extract that reduces the irritation associated with acid use.
- Aloe Vera and ginseng: botanical extracts with soothing and radiance-boosting benefits.
- Amino Acids (namely Aspartic acid, Alanine, Glycine, Serine, Valine, Isoleucine, Proline, Threonine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Glutamic Acid and Arginine): every amino acid has a different effect but to summarize: all of them together in this formula provide hydration, have healing properties and help improve the appearance of wrinkles by restoring collagen synthesis in the skin.
You can find the in-depth analysis of all the other ingredients here.
Combined with the sleek design that is The Ordinary’s signature, the toner comes in a bottle with a twist up cap that makes dispensing the toner on the cotton pad so much easier. Absolutely love the design because this gives me a lot more control on how much toner I want on the cotton pad.
Texture and scent:
The toner itself is very watery and appears colorless on the cotton pad. I couldn’t smell any fragrance on it. On application, it sinks right into the skin and there is no tightness instead I felt it was a little hydrating.
How to use it:
Now comes the tough part, using this with other skincare products. As much as I loved using this and how it worked on my skin texture, it did almost next to nothing for skin pigmentation on my cheeks and so I had to rack my brains on what else to use and how to make it work.
- DO NOT TRY TO USE IT TWICE A DAY: The ordinary website says that this should be used only once a day, and I whole heartily agree!! I once tried to amp it up and used it twice a day for around two days till my skin was over-exfoliated and I just knew I had to tone down the enthusiasm a little bit after that and follow instructions (lol).
- Again, this is an acid toner and has a considerably lower pH (3.5-3.7) so it is better if you use it right after cleansing on a clean, dry face. Sensitive skins, beware if this burns, please discontinue using it.
- DO NOT FORGET USING SUNSCREEN: Anything with glycolic acid will make your skin super prone to sun damage even 2 weeks after discontinued use, so please don’t take your sunscreen application lightly.
- Wait times: 15-25 mins of waiting between your next step in skincare will save you from the dreading breakout and burning.
- DO NOT USE RETINOL or RETINOIDS WITH THIS: see the capital letters? That’s because that experiment was tried and tested by yours truly and it was the biggest failure ever. Please don’t attempt unless you really want to burn off your skin. If you want to still use retinoids and the likes, you might want to alternate them (something I’ve stared doing recently)
- Serums and moisturizers containing Niacinamide and hyaluronic acid work amazing with this: your skin will definitely be super bouncy and bright and more clearer looking the next day!!!
- Vitamin C: not active vitamin C (like L-Ascorbic Acid) but perhaps stabilized Vitamin C (like Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate or such derivatives). As a rule of thumb, just remember if its vitamin C but has ‘Acid’ at the end of it, its probably safer to not use it with more acidic products like AHA, BHA and retinol.
Does it work?
Yes, it does work and it works faster than the Pixi Glow tonic. My very first application of this was during fall and I did experience the tingling and flushing of face that is very characteristic when you use a stronger active for the first time. What I feared most was if this would purge my skin and I am happy to report it did not break me out. I used this twice a week for the first 2 weeks and then started to lessen the break times and now have taken to alternating it with my retinol serum (also from the ordinary). While I used this alone, it did absolute wonders for the texture of my skin! You know those crazy bumps you get on your forehead and around your nose? 1 week of using only this, and they were so diminished, it was almost a miracle. Constant use also made me notice how this almost refined the textured skin on my nose and cheek. Also I remember that I had a case of flaky skin last fall and since I’ve been using this almost religiously every other day, my skin is all glowy and happy and not tight and flaky anymore.
Now that I’ve covered the texture part, let’s talk about the uneven skin tone part. Does it live up to its claims there? Sadly, no. I couldn’t see any drastic change in my sun spots or anything that evened out my skin-tone. There is more clarity, less new blemishes forming but that was about it. This was a bit disappointing but at the end of the day, its still glycolic acid, not vitamin c or niacinamide so I wasn’t expecting any miracles either. Your skin will look like you’ve exfoliated it everyday but there wont be any drastic change in skin-tone.
- Works drastically to refine the skin texture
- Hydrating and not stripping, absorbs almost instantly
- Smoothes out the skin and works to diminish the bumps on forehead
- Provides clarity to the skin (which may be due to blemishes)
- Curbs new blemishes from leaving marks
- Inexpensive (A whooping 240ml that costs only 12.50 USD!! The amount you get will last you for atleast a year!!)
- No drastic effect on skin pigmentation
- Will make the skin super sensitive if used more than once a day
- Hard to find products that will work well with this since it is more concentrated
I’ve been using this every other days for a little more than a month now and that has barely put a dent on the amount in the bottle. For the price point, I think this is great value for the money, especially if you are looking for anything that will help you get smoother skin texture or get rid of bumps on your forehead or just work against general skin congestion. The only disappointing factor is that I didn’t find it worked for hyper-pigmentation as much as I would’ve liked and it was verrryy hard pairing any of my other skincare products in routine with this.
That being said, would I repurchase it? Yes. Because for my student budget, this seems like an amazing deal for me and I do suffer from skin congestion during summers and fall.