Vitamin-C Tonic Vitamin C & Ferulic Acid Brightening Toner
Pixi’s fabled Glow Tonic Exfoliating Toner is a cult favorite beauty product. We assume the brand is hoping lightning strikes twice with Vitamin-C Tonic Vitamin C & Ferulic Acid Brightening Toner. Regrettably, the scale is firmly tipped in favor of stirring up trouble for skin, making this another Pixi skin care product we cannot recommend.
The clear bottle packaging presents the first problem. We reached out to Pixi and they confirmed the plastic is not UV-coated. This means the vitamin C [ascorbic acid] and other natural ingredients will be subject to degradation with routine exposure to daylight; in fact, when we asked, Pixi recommended storing this in a dark place!
Light exposure aside, this toner is meant to be dispensed onto and applied with fingertips or a cotton pad. It leaves skin feeling smooth and hydrated, and perhaps a bit brighter, but nothing extraordinary.
Hydration benefits come from the mix of glycerin and propanediol, and we’re glad to report that this toner also contains some proven natural antioxidants like green tea, carrot, and ferulic acid.
Pixi maintains the vitamin C promotes healthy collagen production, but research has shown ascorbic acid needs to be formulated at a pH range not much greater than 3 to do this. Here, the pH of 5.6 is simply too high for vitamin C to trigger new collagen; however, it’s still a good antioxidant.
What keeps this from being a product we can recommend is the highly fragranced formula coupled with numerous fragrant irritants including citrus extracts and peppermint. As we explain in the More Info section, all of these can irritate skin but there are several vitamin C-based brighteners that deliver visible results without sensitizing skin.
The final disappointment is the claim that the willow bark and fruit extracts this contains exfoliate skin (they can’t). Fruit extracts that naturally contain the AHA lactic acid don’t work the same as pure lactic acid. As for willow bark, it only becomes an exfoliant when converted in the body by specific enzymes. This conversion doesn’t happen on skin, although willow bark is a very good soothing agent.
- Leaves skin feeling smooth and hydrated.
- Contains some very good natural antioxidants.
- Clear plastic bottle leaves the light-sensitive ingredients vulnerable.
- The pH of 5.6 is too high for ascorbic acid to have collagen-stimulating benefits.
- Highly fragranced formula plus citrus extracts very likely to irritate skin.
- Peppermint furthers the risk of irritation.
- The willow bark and fruit extracts cannot exfoliate skin as claimed.
Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.
This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin’s barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin’s surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.
A surprising fact: Even though you can’t always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it’s not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don’t need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.
References for this information:
Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
This addition to our bestselling toners is formulated with antioxidant rich Vitamin C, promoting healthy collagen production and boosting skin's luminosity. The probiotics in this brightening toner help to fortify skin's barrier while willow bark & fruit extracts gently exfoliate all skin types. Vitamin C brightens skin while ferulic acid provides an antioxidant boost and probiotics protect & balance. Paraben & alcohol free.
Strengths: Tester units at the Target stores; complete ingredient lists on pixibeauty.com; excellent gel liner; great sheer cheek gel.
Weaknesses: Really overpriced; the Illuminating Tint & Conceal SPF 20 is poorly formulated, with irritants and an unreliable SPF; no decent concealer option; all eyeshadows are average at best; no customer care phone number available in the United States.
Swedish-born makeup artist Petra Strand is the creator of the Pixi line of makeup products. She started it in London, opening her first shop alongside the salon of her aesthetician sister, Sofia. The Pixi line is positioned as being packed with skin-beneficial ingredients that will help women get the "Makeup to Wakeup" essentials that they need to stock their cosmetics bags. That sounds cute and potentially helpful, but in fact the main ingredients in Pixi's makeup don't distinguish it as being more skin careoriented than any other makeup product on the shelf.
Even if Pixi's products did have a two-in-one benefit it comes at a high cost. Although the line is sold at Target, it's priced as high as, and in some instances higher than, any line sold at a department store. However, these products are not makeup with a pronounced skin-care benefit, so they are not worth the extra money.
Of the new makeup artist lines now available at Target (JK Jemma Kid and NP Set along with Pixi), this one is actually the least impressive, and we predict it will be the first to be pulled from shelves. We recommend you shop this line with extra caution to avoid a pricey purchase that you're likely to regret or that you have to jump through hoops to return.
The good news is that, like fellow Target newcomers JK Jemma Kid and NP Set, the display for Pixi includes testers for every product. What a wonderful surprise! And if you happen to choose an item you're not happy with (hint: perhaps because there are better options for less from other lines) Target has a good return policy on cosmetics (just be sure to save your receiptmy strong opinion is that you'll need it).
Note: We were unable to locate a customer service phone number for Pixi and our e-mails to the company have gone unanswered. This is not a line to shop if you're expecting customer support beyond what Target offers.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.