Not many of us use toners but if chosen correctly they can elevate your skincare to the next level. 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.
Unfortunately, toners are one of those products that have a lot of hype and marketing around them but are very rarely as good as they sound, ingredient-wise. Finding a toner that is nutritious enough for the skin to be worth adding in your routine is very rare.
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 Glow Tonic (the orange one).
For all Pixi Tonics posts check out:
Is the Pixi Glow Tonic skin nourishing and worth your time or just one more marketing type product? Let’s find 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 the 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 Glow Tonic bottle is light orange which suits the glow claim of this product.
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 Glow Tonic is a transparent, pale orange, watery liquid. This means that the orange colour comes party from the orange tinted plastic bottle but sadly also from a red dye in the product. This is disappointing as they already achieve the wanted product image by colouring the bottle and there is no need to add dyes to the product.
Dyes do not offer any skincare benefit, in fact some of them can increase sensitivity to some. But even if you don’t have sensitive skin, it’s an extra ingredient that you don’t need on you.
This is a disappointment when compared to other Pixi Tonics like the purple one, the Pixi Retinol Tonic, which do not contain dyes.
This toner has a strong scent of floral meets oil, which comes from the added fragrance.
Like with the dyes above, fragrance does not add a skincare benefit in fact it can increase sensitivity to some. However, to make things worse, it’s not an extra ingredient that you don’t need on you, it’s a lot more. The term perfume or fragrance can refer to up to about 3000 molecules! Obviously, I don’t think there are 3000 molecules here, but you get the point. It’s another few ingredients that are not needed.
This is another disappointment when compared to other Pixi Tonics like the purple, Pixi Retinol Tonic, which does not contain the general term fragrance but rather lists a couple of ingredients that can give skincare benefits but also scent.
This toner is suitable for all skin types.
Avoid contact with eyes and never use cosmetics on broken skin. If you have sensitive skin it might be better if you test it first on small areas.
This toner lasts for 12M which is a good amount of time.
Here’s what the brand says about the product:
“Exfoliating facial Glow Tonic™. It helps tone, firm and tighten the skin. It removes dead skin cells for healthier looking skin. For all skin types. Alcohol free.
Exfoliates and purifies the skin with Glycolic Acid
• Ginseng improves circulation and energizes
• Aloe vera soothes and hydrates
• Refines the appearance of pores
• Gently accelerates cell renewal to reveal a brighter, glowing complexion
• Balances, heals and soothes for radiant, healthier looking skin
• Alcohol free
• Suitable for all skin types
• Not tested on animals”
Practicality of use – user experience
The Pixi 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. If you notice major skincare changes from skincare addon products like toners and tonics, it’s time to re-evaluate your skincare regime.
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 29 ingredients of which 21 will offer you some skincare benefit (some more than others), 3 potential negative and 12 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 could be. This product feels to me like a half way approach to something very good. It starts well, contains some good compounds but then throws it all away by not going all the way.
For example, it contains glycolic acid, also known as AHA, which is a gentle exfoliator best known for being water soluble and for its moisturising abilities. This means that it is generally recommended mostly (but not just) for normal to dry skin. However, a good all rounded product, especially one like this one that is recommended for all skin types, should also contain a BHA, like salicylic acid. BHAs can work on the surface of the skin but also inside pores, as they are oil soluble, meaning that they are mostly (but not just) recommended for normal to oily skin, especially for skin that is prone to clogs, blemishes and enlarged pores. However, BHAs can also calm the skin so sensitive skin sufferers can also use it. No matter what your skin type is, using both AHAs and BHAs will give you the best results.
Another example of where this product falls short is biotin, also known as vitamin H, which doesn’t penetrate the skin and is therefore, not as useful or fancy of an ingredient as it might sound. On the plus side, this tonic contains some amino acids and sugars but then also the unnecessary fragrance and a dye.
Perhaps this is why Pixi labelled it as a tonic instead (which is generally a lighter product than a toner) but let’s face it in practice we will compare tonics to toners as we won’t be using a toner AND a tonic, it has to do the toners job. It’s a shame though because this is not a bad product, just a product that didn’t meet it’s potential.
This toner has a pH of 4 which is on the lower side but still within the skin’s pH range of 4-5.5. Although the other Pixi Tonics are around pH 5 this is lower for a very good reason. For the glycolic acid, also known as AHA, ingredient to be active, it has to be within pH 3-4 which this product is. You’d be amazed how many products in the market contain AHAs or BHAs but not within their working pH range, meaning that they are useless!
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.
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice – Skin conditioner, locks moisture in (=humectant). Some consider it to have anti-flammatory properties and protects against UV-damage. This is not a sunscreen and you still need SPF. Some have reported it to stimulate collage production and therefore, reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- Glycolic Acid – One of the most researched and effective forms of AHA. An exfoliator that can bind water. Due to its exfoliation properties, it can help the skin appear smoother, visibly reducing the signs of ageing and sun damage.
- Butylene Glycol – Skin conditioner that can also prevent moisture loss from the skin. Sometimes also used as fragrance.
- 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.
- Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract – A skin conditioner and astringent (=causes contraction of skin cells and other body tissues – in cosmetics astringents are most famous for reducing redness and the appearance of veins) making this compound effective for local application on bruises, sore muscles, varicose veins and inflammation. Some research suggests that it has anti-oxidant and anti-flammatory effects and that it is even an effective in reducing eczema.
- Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract – A skin conditioner and soother.
- Hexylene Glycol– Skin conditioner.
- Fructose – This natural fruit sugar can act as a skin conditioner, replenisher and humectant (=locks water in).
- Glucose– A natural sugar, skin conditioning and moisturising agent thanks to its ability to bind water.
- Sucrose – A natural sugar, skin conditioner, replenisher and humectant.
- Urea – A humectant and skin conditioner that is used very often in products for dry skin.
- Alanine – An amino acid, skin conditioner, anti-oxidant and fragrance. Can combine with epidermal cells to fill up creases and provide a smoother skin appearance.
- Glutamic Acid – An amino acid that can act as a skin and hair conditioner. Could also potentially increase hydration.
- Aspartic Acid – An amino acid that can act as a hair and skin conditioner. Can also be used as an anti-static agent and fragrance.
- Hexyl Nicotinate – A skin conditioner and anti-static agent. A controversial ingredient that while can reduce redness and inflammation it can also cause irritation.
- Panax Ginseng Root Extract – A mixture of anti-oxidants and vitamins which can improve the appearance of wrinkles. Can increase skin hydration, reduce texture and uneven skin tone.
- Ethylhexylglycerin – A weak preservative and skin conditioner that is often used in ointments for eczema.
- Biotin – Also known as vitamin H, Coenzyme R or Vitamin B7. Can act as a hair, skin conditioner and soother, although there isn’t enough data to support the claims from topical application, mainly because it cannot be absorbed through the skin.
- Panthenol– Form of vitamin B5. A moisturiser and potential acne treatment.
- PPG-26-Buteth-26– A skin conditioner and fragrance ingredient. It has the ability to restore the appearance of dry, damaged skin by reducing flaking and improving suppleness.
- Urea– There are quite a few concerns around urea including cancer and Dementia disease. However, more studies are needed to confirm these claims.
- Fragrance (Parfum) – This ingredient represents an undisclosed mixture of compounds that give the product scent. There are more than 3000 molecules that fall under this category and I personally do not like that there are some ingredients that are undisclosed and hidden under this general name. Fragrance also does not offer any skin care benefit, in fact there is some evidence that it can irritate and thus damage the skin.
- Red 4 (CI 14700) – Added dye that gives the tonic it’s orange/red colour. Dyes do not offer any skincare benefit but can cause sensitisation or irritation to some. Some dyes can bioaccumulate and others are suspected carcinogens. While there is not much evidence for either, they are an unnecessary risk in cosmetics. Dyes are added for the psychological benefit of creating a product that looks the part and you will believe in. Different colours being associated with different functions is something that has been extensively studied and there are examples even from placebo drug trials. In this specific case, this dye is even more unnecessary as the brand used caramel to naturally add fragrance and a little colour, as well as tinting the bottle.
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: Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Hexylene Glycol, Urea, Hexyl Nicotinate, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Red 4 (CI 14700).
Full list of ingredients:
Water/Aqua/Eau, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Hexylene Glycol, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Hexyl Nicotinate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Biotin, Panthenol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Caramel, Red 4 (CI 14700).
The Pixi Glow 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. This product feels unfinished to me, as it contains some valuable ingredients but then falls short in it’s potential.
I don’t recommend this product over the more rounded Paula’s Choice Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner or products that contain both AHAs and BHAs 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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