Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic Review and Ingredients Analysis

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Pixi's Glow Tonic has been a cult favourite skincare product, and if you've heard about the brand at all, then chances are, you've probably heard of Glow Tonic. This cult product has raves from virtually every blogger out there, with people excited over how it is both cheap and effective, so I figured it's high time I got around to review it!

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic: This is THE cult skincare product from the Pixi brand

In case you're wondering why the Pixi Glow Tonic is such a fabled product, in part it's becuase the 5% glycolic acid, which is pretty rare in a product at that price point. So I do get why it lives up to the hype, with people claiming that it works to give them that glow, even for sensitive skin!

Pixi Glow Tonic Review
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic: I've been seeing so many rave reviews for it, so I've decided to see how it stacks up!

So, does the Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic actually live up to the hype? Well, let's dive in and find out! Of course, we'll start right at the ingredients list!

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic Ingredients Review
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic Ingredients List

The ingredients list consists of water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, and then the Glycolic Acid, which we know is at a 5% oncentration. After that, we have a few humectants (Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Dextrin), which we would expect in a toner, as well as a pH adjuster (Sodium Hydroxide), to prevent the product from being too acidic for the skin. Then we have a couple of plant extracts (Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract). Witch Hazel is something I have a bit of mixed feelings about - on the one hand it's in a lot of products, particularly for oil skin or large pores, because of its astringent properties, but on the other hand, it can be rather irritating for skin.

Pixi Glow Tonic Review Bottle
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic: The 5% glycolic acid is the selling point, and other main ingredients include humectants and witch hazel

To round off the formulation, you have some other skincare ingredients that have various purposes, including a mild exfoliant/humectant (Urea), some amino acids and (Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Aspartic Acid), which may have various skincare benefits, such as being moisturizing or having anti-oxidant properties, preservatives and chelating agents (Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol), other moisturizing ingredients (Panthenol) fragrances and colouring (Fragrance (Parfum), Caramel, Red 4 (CI 14700)), emulsifiers (PPG-26-Buteth-26), and emollients (PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil), There's also Hexyl Nicotinate, which I'm honestly not sure what it's supposed to do here - it's a it's a vasodilator, i.e. when applied topically it causes blood vessels to dilate, but I'm not too sure what that's supposed to achieve. It could be a sensation of heat, but some brands advertise the ingredient as improving blood circulation and skin metabolism (which honestly, sounds a little bit dodgy to me from a science-based perspective). I'm not entirely convinced we need to dilate our blood vessels for our skin's condition to be improved, and actually application of methyl nicotinate can also cause erythema (or skin redness which usually occurs with injury or skin inflammation), as seen by this study that tests the vasoactive properties of a product by inducing inflammation and erythema via application of methyl nicotinate.

So, looking at the ingredients as a whole, I guess there are both good and bad things about the product. The good is, of course, that there is an really nice 5% of glycolic acid in the product, and this is an absolutely HUGE plus point! It's rare to see drugstore toners have this level of glycolic acid, so count me suitably impressed! The downside is the inclusion of Witch Hazel and Methyl Niconate, both of which could be potentially irritating to skin. I'm not as concerned with the Methyl Nicontinate, because it's all the way at the bottom of the ingredients list, but the Witch Hazel is further ahead, and thus may be there in concentrations anywhere up to 5%. Of course, whether this is an issue for you or not, is again, at you (or your skin's) discretion. Some people use really astringent products and swear love for the astringents, but some people (especially those with dry and/or sensitive skin) have skin that just cannot handle these products. I personally prefer notw to have it, but low levels of an astringent seem to do fine on my skin.

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic Review pH test
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic has a pH of 4.0 - 4.5, which is higher than the optimal pH range of 3-4

The next test we're putting the Pixi Glow Tonic through is, of course, a pH test! Since a huge draw of the Pixi Glow Toner is the 5% glycolic acid, I felt that it was important to test this product to ensure that it was at the right pH. pH does play a large part in whether the acid in a product would be effective - generally, the lower the pH, the more free H+ ions there will be in the product to exfoliate skin. So in theory, the lower the pH of the product, the better it is going to be for exfoliation. However, obviously a low pH product also brings with it some risks - at very low pHs, skin could run the risk of acid burns. So most brands and acid-based products will have to formulate their products to get in that sweet spot of being low pH but not dangerously so. Of course, what is "safe" for someone may not be "safe" for another For example, someone who has been using acids for awhile would typically have a higher tolerance for such products than someone who hasn't.

In any case, the Pixi Beauty Glow TOnic has a pH of somewhere between 4.0 and 4.5, which is unfortunately higher than the generally accepted optimal pH of 3-4 (theoretically you could go even lower if your skin can take it, but you might run an increased risk of burning your skin). But on the other hand a pH of closer to 4.5 is going to make the product more well-tolerated by those with sensitive skin. So it's a bit of a trade-off, unfortunately, between a smaller risk of irritation, and a less effective product. As a consumer, this is something we'd have to decide for ourselves when considering whether the product meets our needs.

Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic Review Liquid
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic: A watery, toner-like texture that absorbs fast and doesn't irritate skin

So, after all that ingredients analyzing and pH testing, how does the product fare? As expected, the texture is quite light and watery, and absorbs very quickly into skin. There is a bit of a perfume-y floral fragrance to the product, but it's not hugely distracting for me anyway. And, because the pH of this product is on the high side for a glycolic acid product, it didn't cause any stinging or redness that some acid (or, for that matter, witch hazel) products do. In fact, when I used it, it felt just like a "normal" toner. I didn't feel like I was swiping acid on my skin at all! Now, as you might expect, the downside is that the benefit to the skin is also not as dramatic as other glycolic acid products - there was no dramatic flaking off or peeling of old skin - but over time the product did seem to make my skin look better overall.

Pixi Glow Tonic Beauty Review
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic: As an acid product, it has a higher pH than is really optimal, but as a toner with an extra boost, it's a good choice

So, would I recommend the Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic? I guess it boils down to what you're looking for - a more hardcore acid product, or just a toner with an extra oomph to it? If you're looking for the former, then you might find the Glow Tonic to be a little less effective than what you'd ideally like, but if you're looking for a good option for a toner with some acid that doesn't break the bank, this is definitely one to check out. As an acid product, this is unfortunately not at the optimal pH, but as a toner, it does fairly well - it's still lower in pH than most toners in the market, and the slight benefit from having the glycolic acid there will benefit the skin over time. As with all acid products, although this is likely formulated to be gentler than your typical acid product, it's still best to test patch before applying to the entire face, especially if you have sensitive skin, and to wear a sunscreen in the day if you're using this product.
Recommended? Formulation Packaging Ease of Use Effectiveness
Yes, if you want a toner with something "extra" 7/10 8/10 8/10 8/10
The Bottom Line: At pH4.0 - 4.5, the Pixi Beauty GLow Tonic isn't within the optimal range for those looking for a "hardcore" glycolic acid product, but as a toner, it has lower pH than most toners, and packs additional skincare benefit owing to the glycolic acid.

(Product was sent for review. Review is my complete and honest opinion. I am not affiliated with/compensated by the company.)


  1. Hi, I'm a new reader/follower and I'm so glad that I found you! I'm curious how this compares to The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution? I've been using that for a while now but remain curious about the Pixi Glow Tonic because of all the buzz around it.

    1. @dianxae: I actually am not familiar with The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, but it would be kind of hard to compare without knowing the details of both products! We would have to compare: 1) the general ingredients list (are there any irritating ingredients/helpful ingredients beyond the glycolic acid), 2) the % of glycolic acid (The Ordinary obviously has a higher % here), and 3) the pH of the product (also very important for an acid product!). I'll need to do a bit of searching online to see if I can get these details in order to do a comparison!


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