Toners don’t tone! That’s the very first thing that comes to my mind when I think of toners and no wonder why many of us don’t use them at all. Toners are meant to be the product you use after you cleaned your face, to take off any remaining traces of makeup or other dirt, but also to restore your skin’s pH back to being slightly acidic. With that in mind, toners can actually be quite useful and if you choose one wisely you can incorporate some skincare ingredients that might be missing from the rest of the products you are using.
Sadly though, the reality is very different. Finding a toner that is nutritious enough for the skin to be worth adding in your routine is very rare as most of them are more on the marketing side.
Pixi recently released an entire range of toners, 5 in total so far, which have received some attention from the beauty community. Given how popular they have become and their relatively cheap price tag, I am dedicating a separate post on each with this one being on the Pixi Retinol Tonic (the purple one).
Is it skin nourishing and worth your time or just one more marketing type product? Let’s find out.
For all Pixi Tonics posts check out:
PS. If you are wondering what the difference is between a toner and a tonic, it’s minimal to none. Practically, they are the same type of product but generally toners tend to be more nutritious than tonics that are usually lighter products. Nevertheless, I am referring to this product as a toner throughout even though the brand labels it as a tonic. It really doesn’t matter that much.
The Pixi toners don’t come with outer packaging. However, they do come wrapped up in plastic so you will know if they are brand new or if someone opened them.
They all come in different coloured but clear plastic bottles with a green lid and Pixi brand label. The design is minimal and yet they all look elegant and beautiful.
I love that they are colour coded, so you can separate each toner immediately by colour as well as the text on the label. The Pixi Retinol Tonic bottle is light purple which suits the lavender smell nicely.
One 250mL bottle retails for £18. That’s actually overall fairly cheap when you compare it to other toners that even if they are around that price (£20ish) they can contain half the amount of product. But also, considering how long it will last (2-4 months depending on usage).
Texture and Colour
The Pixi Retinol Tonic is a clear, watery liquid. There is no colour to it, the purple hue is coming from the plastic of the bottle. Points to Pixi there for colouring the bottle and not adding dyes to the tonic. Thank you!
This toner has a strong jasmine and lavender scent which is natural from the ingredients contained and pleasant.
This toner is suitable for all skin types and as the brand states it can “sooth sensitive skin”. Avoid contact with eyes.
However, never use cosmetics on broken skin and if you truly have sensitive skin it might be better if you test it on small areas the first few times.
This toner lasts for 12M which is a good amount of time.
Here’s what the brand says about the product:
“This potent youth preserving tonic features a unique time-release Retinol to help rejuvenate the skin for a natural glow. Powerful antioxidants and botanicals replenish the skin for a smoother, softer appearance while soothing sensitive skin.
This multi-action treatment with time release retinol also replenishes skin with potent antioxidants.
• Time-release Retinol reduces fine lines & smoothes complexion
• Peptides firm skin & boost collagen production
• Jasmine Flower heals & balances”
Practicality of use – user experience
These toners are very easy to use. The cap unscrews easily and the product pours out the small hole in a relatively slow and controlled way.
All you have to do is apply the product on a cotton pad and then spread on clean face. No rinsing required. Easy!
I haven’t noticed any skincare changes from using this toner however, you really shouldn’t notice much from toners alone. It’s the rest of your skincare that should carry that burden. Nevertheless, this toner took off traces of makeup and other dirt and left the skin feeling clean and soft but not dry. Additionally, it was absorbed quickly by the skin and did not leave any sticky residues behind.
The Pixi Retinol Tonic contains 28 ingredients of which 24 will offer you some skincare benefit (some more than others), 1 potential negative and 8 irritants.
Overall, the toner is better than a lot of other ones in the market but at the same time not as nourishing as a toner can be. Perhaps this is why Pixi labelled them as tonics instead (which are generally lighter products) but let’s face it in practice we will compare them to toners as we won’t be using a toner AND a tonic, it has to do the toners job. The few worth it ingredients it contains are in very small amounts and so I would not recommend it over the mighty Paula’s Choice Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner.
This toner has a pH of 5, which is within our skin’s normal pH levels, meaning that it is a good product for maintaining healthy skin function. Even if you ignore all the skincare positive ingredients, this product is good for ensuring that your skin has been returned to the right pH after cleansing etc.
To keep this article short, I am only listing the skin nourishing or skin positive/negative ingredients and ignoring the ones that only play formulation purposes. For the full list of these products’ ingredients scroll down to the “full list of ingredients” section.
- Aqua/Water/Eau based formulation.
- Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Water – Primarily a fragrance but can contain anti-oxidants and could sooth sensitive skin.
- Glycerin – Found naturally in the skin so can be seen as a skin replenishing ingredient. A skin conditioner that helps improve and smooth the appearance of skin. A good moisturiser that is almost always present in moisturising products.
- Propanediol– Can hydrate the skin but is also used to increase the absorption of other ingredients.
- Methyl Gluceth-20– Water binder and skin softener.
- PEG-8 – Humectant.
- Panthenol– Form of vitamin B5. A moisturiser and potential acne treatment.
- Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate – A stable form of vitamin C. A hero anti-oxidant molecule that can sooth the skin (although it can irritate some) and improve the appearance of the signs of ageing. It can brighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation and age spots. It can boost the immune system, help and protect cells and aid in the skin’s collagen production. Science supports the wonders of applying vitamin C to the skin and therefore is a must have in your skincare. For more information check out: Vitamins C & E – Do they work in skin care?
- Sodium Hyaluronate– A hero compound, known as the “fountain of youth” Plays a major role in anti-ageing processes and is found in embryos in high concentrations. Can hold onto water 1000 times of its weight meaning that it is an amazing moisturiser by locking moisture in. Helps wounds and burns heal and it’s linked to increased collagen generation Also used as a temporary cosmetic filler.
- Lecithin – A lipid that improves skin equilibrium.
- Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract – An astringent that may have healing properties.
- Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis Flower Extract – A humectant (=locks water in) and skin conditioner.
- Palmitoyl Tripeptide-27 – Peptides generally are said to stimulate collagen production, condition and restore skin.
- Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin – Can act as a skin conditioner.
- Retinol – Also known as vitamin A. A skin restorer, anti-oxidant and skin conditioner. This powerful ingredient is often found in anti-ageing products due to it’s ability to improve the signs of ageing (wrinkles, brown spots etc). This ingredient is air-sensitive and might become ineffective if found in jar packaging. Check out: Vitamin A in skin care – Is it worth it?
- Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride – A skin conditioner and replenisher. Can enhance the delivery of vitamins, pigments and other ingredients. Can act as a cleanser too and provide a lightweight non-greasy barrier of lubrication.
- Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower/Leaf Extract – A fragrance that can have moisturising, soothing and skin conditioning properties.
- Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract – A fragrance that can act as a skin conditioner.
- Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Extract – A fragrance with potential anti-oxidant properties.
- Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract – A potent anti-oxidant, that can help diminish skin’s environment damage, and skin conditioner.
- Sodium Citrate– An anti-oxidant and preservative.
- Citric Acid – A natural preservative, can be used to even out skin tone.
- Polysorbate 20 – Can lubricate and sooth the skin.
- Ethylhexylglycerin – A weak preservative and skin conditioner that is often used in ointments for eczema
- Lecithin– Generally considered safe but some suspect this to be a carcinogen. However, there is no proof.
Ingredients that can cause irritation to some:
This is actually really case specific, as different people have different sensitivities and allergies. Just because a compound has been reported by some to cause sensitivity, it doesn’t mean you will have an issue. “Sensitizer” compounds being present is not a negative in my opinion, as this is the case with pretty much everything out there and funnily enough I’ve seen products that are targeted specifically for sensitive skin, containing some compounds that have been reported by some, or are known to be, sensitizers.
If you have sensitive skin or you are prone to skin sensitisation and unwanted reactions, try a little bit of this at the back of your hand first and consult a medical doctor if you are concerned.
The following compounds present in this tonic have been either proven or claimed by some to be sensitizers, irritants, allergens etc: Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Water, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Retinol, Phenoxyethanol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Extract, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Citric Acid.
Full list of ingredients:
Aqua/Water/Eau, Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Water, Glycerin, Propanediol, Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-8, Panthenol, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lecithin, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis Flower Extract, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-27, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Retinol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower/Leaf Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Sodium Citrate, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 20, Ethylhexylglycerin.
The Pixi Retinol Tonic is a better toner than a lot of others in the market but at the same time it doesn’t contain a lot of skincare basics and must haves. It’s not the best toner in the market, and if it wasn’t for the rest of the weak toners out there, I would have labelled this as a weak product.
I don’t recommend this product over the Paula’s Choice Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner but it might be better than the toner you are using!
I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.
Beauty is a very personal thing, we all have different skin, requirements and biological build which can influence things. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa. Have you ever tried these products? Did they work for you? Let me know your experiences below!
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