Review: Pixi's Glow Tonic Is Radiant Skin in a Bottle

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Pixi Glow Tonic

Pixi Glow Tonic Product Shot

Adam Hurly/Design by Cristina Cianci

What We Like
  • Flushes pores and exfoliates dead skin

  • Soothing formula

  • Alcohol-free

  • Value size offerings

What We Don't Like
  • Can be overly drying if used daily

  • Not Byrdie Clean

Pixi's Glow Tonic runs laps around other toners, largely because of its glycolic exfoliating powers and its soothing aloe leaf juice. However, for many, it will likely be too drying for daily use.


Pixi Glow Tonic

Pixi Glow Tonic Product Shot

Adam Hurly/Design by Cristina Cianci

We put Pixi's Glow Tonic to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

Pixi Glow Tonic found my skin at its lowest point: Dull from winter, covered in acne marks, and oily as ever. While I can’t speak for all Byrdie editors, I would be willing to bet that my skin is among the oiliest in the bunch.

Enter Pixi Glow Tonic: not only does it promise to control oil levels, but the toner also helps to exfoliate dead surface cells with a 5 percent concentration of glycolic acid, while leaving it soothed with aloe. Many people use it to ready the skin for makeup, or to help the dermis rebound from a day of heavy product use and physical activity. While I don’t wear makeup (besides concealer), I do test dozens of products a week for work, in addition to my regular regimen. I needed Pixi Glow Tonic to help my tired, overworked skin rebound from a rough, acne-happy winter. I needed it to help diminish some dark spots and to keep my skin toned and less oily (and thus ready to receive all the other products I use), all while sparing my friends of more gripes about pimples and oily pores.

Read on for my Pixi Glow Tonic review. 

Pixi Glow Tonic

Best for: Oily, acne-prone skin, or skin stressed by frequent makeup use

Uses: Removes excess oil and debris from the pores, and dissolves dead surface cells to prevent breakouts

Star Rating: 4.5/5

Potential Allergens: Fragrance/parfum and colorant (CI 14700 (Red 4)

Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid 5 percent

Byrdie Clean?: No; contains PEG-40 (hydrogenated castor oil)

Price: $29

About the Brand: Pixi promises multitasking products that are kind to your skin (and make it radiate), from makeup to moisturizers to treatments.

About My Skin: Oily, acne-prone, and seasonally dull

In addition to being oily skinned, I tend to get 1-2 decent-sized pimples each month, which is only magnified in the colder quarter of the year. Every winter, I also experience the seasonal phenomenon of having dull, discolored skin. It’s rife with hyperpigmentation, especially after that proliferation of dry-weather pimples (and the dark marks linger until mid-spring). And yet, despite the weather and lack of sun, my skin remains as oily as ever. 

The Feel: Watery (like most toners)

Glow Tonic Texture Shot

Adam Hurly/Design by Cristina Cianci

It feels refreshing and soothing on contact, which is a nice surprise considering the glycolic acid in play. You should apply Pixi Glow Tonic with a cotton pad or ball, in order to not overdose your skin. It has a water base, like most toners, and will distribute easily. Simply wet a second cotton swab if you need to.

Pull quote

It feels refreshing and soothing on contact, which is a nice surprise considering the glycolic acid in play.

The Ingredients: Gentle for most

While you won’t smell it overtly, there is some added fragrance in the formula, and the product gets its reddish tint from colorant (along with caramel, of all things). But by and large, Pixi Glow Tonic’s formula is gentle on the skin and thoughtful towards its users—despite potential allergens such as fragrance and the inclusion of PEG-40 (hydrogenated castor oil). Here is a breakdown of the active ingredients:

  • Glycolic acid: The 5 percent glycolic acid helps to gently exfoliate to refine pores, brighten skin and increase cell turnover to improve skin texture.
  • Aloe Vera: The addition of aloe vera helps to soothe and hydrate skin so it stays plump and moisturized.
  • Ginseng and botanical extracts: The ingredients help to improve circulation and balance pH levels.
  • Witch hazel: Helps to flush oil to keep skin shine-free.

How to Apply: Use once a day

To use Pixi's Glow Tonic, simply saturate a cotton pad with the product and wipe it over your face, neck, and chest. You can use it either in the morning or night, but avoid using it twice a day as it could be too drying. Avoid getting the product around your eyes. You don't wash off the toner. Follow up with your favorite serum or moisturizer.

You may experience a slight reaction to the ingredient the first few times you use the product if your skin isn’t tolerant to chemical exfoliants. But it’s a terrific place to start if this is your first go. If that’s the case, then I’d recommend using it in the evening before bed. If you do have any small reaction (slight reddening), then it should ease up by morning. Be sure to follow it with a rejuvenating night cream either way.

The Results: Favorable, especially when used less frequently

Adam Pixi Glow Tonic After

Adam Hurly/Design by Cristina Cianci

After a month of use, I feel like my skin looks brighter and clearer, and I think the dark spots are clearing up, too. After I switched to using the product every other day, my skin relaxed, and looked and felt much more balanced. Moving forward, I will probably even use it less (twice a week, give or take). I think I’ll get all of its benefits, while still making space for the other heavy lifters in my regimen, like weekly masks and peels, as well as retinol. 

After a month of use, I feel like my skin looks brighter and clearer, and I think the dark spots are clearing up, too.

I started using the tonic every day, eager to see the benefits of daily use. But after a few days, I felt like my skin was slightly dryer than usual (which isn’t a good thing, even if your skin is oily like mine). In other words, I was over toning. 

Just because a product offers benefits like flushing away oil buildup and dissolving dead surface cells, it doesn’t mean that it needs to be used daily. First of all, your dead skin cells won’t build up that fast. And secondly, you need oil in your skin. You just don’t need it in extreme excess. So let it accumulate, and simply nip it when it builds up too high.

The Value: Excellent

Pixie Glow Tonic


Given that I’ll get a few months’ uses out of the 8.5 oz. bottle, I think $29 is a terrific price for this product—especially considering its exfoliating powers. (You might be able to ditch an exfoliating serum from your regimen, which is worth the $29 alone). It’s a steal for people who like multitasking skincare products.

What to Look For: Active ingredients

A toner is a great choice for those who have oily skin and are wanting a product that helps to decrease the shine and increase cell turnover. If you are already using products like retinol or salicylic acid, you may want to use a toner like Pixie Glow Tonic sparingly to avoid over-drying your skin.

If you choose glycolic acid as your chemical exfoliant of choice, then you want it to be at least 5 percent. That’s about the concentration necessary to be effective without leaving you red in the face. It’s common to see higher doses in the double digits, but 5 percent, applied every couple of days will prevent dead cells from building up on the skin’s surface, while also keeping them out of your pores. 

Again, the two biggest flags would be the added fragrance and red colorant; chances are, you already know if your skin will react inversely to either. To be safe, give the tonic a patch test on your skin before going for a face-first application.

Similar Products: You have options

Peter Thomas Roth 8% Glycolic Solution Toner: This is probably the closest match for Pixi Glow Tonic, in terms of soothing powers (thanks to chamomile and aloe). However, the Peter Thomas Roth toner ($40) is a slightly stronger formula, if your skin demands a heavier hit.

Jack Black Power Peel Multi-Acid Resurfacing Pads: Less toner, more peel, Jack Black's Power Peel Multi-Acid Resurfacing Pads ($38) have the same end goal as Pixi's Glow Tonic: keeping pores clear of oil and grime, and dissolving dead surface cells to promote a healthier, brighter complexion. 

Final Verdict

I’m not shocked that Pixi Glow Tonic has a cult of followers behind it. It’s gentle in its aim to clear skin, but effective enough that you needn’t use it daily. Whether you need it as a quick cleaner-upper or simply to balance oily skin and promote healthy cell turnover (like me)... you might easily come to rely on the product. Plus, its affordability and large volume will make it all the easier to include in your regular rotation. 


  • Product Name Glow Tonic
  • Product Brand Pixi
  • Price $29.00
  • Full Ingredient List Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycolic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel)Water, 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, Parfum/Fragrance, Caramel, Benzyl Benzoate, Citral, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Linalool, CI 14700 (Red 4).

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