We test whether a high street liquid exfoliator can really achieve the same results as a cult market leader…

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AHA and BHA liquid exfoliators  are now staples on many of our skincare routines for sloughing away dead skin cells and dissolving dullness, without the rough abrasion of scrubs or traditional physical exfoliators. One much lauded alpha hydroxy acid based product that takes pride of place on the bathroom shelves of beauty editors and skincare expects across the globe is Pixi Glow Tonic , £18 for 250ml (this volume detail will come into play later). As the name implies, Glow Tonic’s 5% glycolic acid formula helps healthy new skin cells come to the fore, with witch hazel for  pore-minimising  astringent qualities and aloe vera to negate any potential irritation. As far as at-home resurfacing goes, it basically doesn’t get any easier than sweeping this over skin post-cleansing, and the brightening results have garnered a loyal following. That green bottle is immediately recognisable to skincare nuts, yet another minty-hued dupe is here to steal its crown, on the high street at least…

Superdrug’s new Naturally Radiant Glycolic Tonic, £5.99 for 100ml (mmm hmmm), is certainly less catchy by name, but the labelling is surprisingly recognisable, and it boasts the same level of glycolic acid as Pixi’s £18 original. Rather than water chestnut and aloe, you’ve got more fruit on your plate in Superdrug’s case- kiwi and mulberry extract to be exact, which won’t furnish skin with the same soothing or refining effect, but could have some antioxidant benefit. To be noted if you suffer with sensitive skin  or eczema  is that Superdrug’s dupe contains a small amount of linalool, derived from herbs such as lavender and mint, and citrus-based citronellol, which are both allergens that can provoke irritation. In Pixi’s case, a trio of water-binding urea, glycerin and softening aloe vera calms inflammation and helps strengthen the skin barrier, so it’s more of a ‘gentle touch’ as far as acid is concerned, and while Pixi Glow Tonic does contain potentially problematic fragrance, it's at the end of the ingredients list, while in Superdrug's case it's further up.

Post-use, Naturally Radiant Glycolic Tonic did leave skin smoother, although my sensitive skin was definitely on the flushed side. The redness had subsided by the next morning, but I’d definitely stick to using it a few times a week rather than morning and night. Compared to the Pixi classic, my skin felt a little tighter and drier, but pores around my nose did seem smaller and an outcrop of whiteheads around my jawline took a hike, which was welcome. As a dupe, however, you’re not making a huge saving for what you’re getting- if you compare Superdrug’s offering ml for ml, Naturally Radiant Glycolic Tonic comes in at £14.98 (rounded up to the nearest penny) per 250ml, while Pixi is £18 for the same amount. For an extra £3 I’d rather skip the potentially irritating plant extracts, max out of the aloe and get my acid hit with a side order of hydration in the form of urea. In this case the dependable pioneer wins over the dupe.

Naturally Radiant Glycolic Tonic, £5.99 for 100ml,  available in Superdrug stores  and launching online this month

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