Pixi Glow Tonic review—should you try the cult acid toner?

Our Beauty Editor's Pixi Glow Tonic review reveals all about the hyped hero buy

A woman's hand holding a bottle of pixi glow tonic for this pixi glow tonic review
(Image credit: Pixi )

REASONS TO BUY

+ Effective radiance and smoothness boost
+ Quick and easy to apply
+ Gentle enough to use frequently

REASONS TO AVOID

+ May not suit those with very sensitive skin

You can probably predict the verdict of this Pixi Glow Tonic review. That's because Pixi Glow tonic is one of those beauty products that’s so widely adored it’s almost become a cliché to say you love it.

And look, tropes exist for a reason and with this cult liquid exfoliator it’s with very good reason—this stuff is brilliant. Beauty Editors have it on repeat order (myself included after writing this review) supermodels rave about it and facialists recommend it to their clients. It sells every minute globally on average and is about a third of the price of your typical superstar skincare acid product. 

But what exactly is Pixi Glow Tonic, and how did it become a modern beauty hero? This tried and tested Pixi Glow Tonic review has all the answers you need. 

Pixi Glow Tonic Review: everything you need to know

Pixi glow tonic ingredients

Pixi glow tonic bottle

(Image credit: Pixi )

Pixi Glow Tonic is a liquid exfoliator that shifts dead cells and smooths rough skin texture via it’s main active ingredient, glycolic acid. As well as glycolic, the ingredients list is an all-star cast designed to soften and hydrate, like glycerin and aloe vera plus ginseng, which has antioxidant benefits to brighten.

In practice, I found that it was this combination of nourishing and exfoliating ingredients that made this one of the best toners I've tried for all-around skin improvements. There are many acids out there, and god knows I've tried them all, but glycolic is the gold standard. It’s an alpha hydroxy acid that works by loosening the joins between dead cells so they naturally shift from your skin’s surface, revealing the fresh layer beneath. It can also stimulate collagen production over time and help other products penetrate more deeply.

Glycolic often crops up in hardworking but slightly scary at-home chemical peels, blended with other strong actives for maximum skincare satisfaction but also the potential for irritation. Here, Pixi has done something very clever by including glycolic in a fairly robust concentration (5%) but also ensuring to soothe and quench the skin. This means Glow Tonic gave my skin that satisfying instant smoothness that makes using an acid toner worthwhile, but also gave me peace of mind that it wouldn’t aggravate my skin. Happy days!

How I tested Pixi Glow Tonic

This is by far the easiest bit of this Pixi glow tonic review to explain because applying Pixi Glow tonic went like this—I dropped it onto a pad and swiped it on my face. I did this on just cleansed skin and let it sit for a minute before going onto my hydrating serums and creams. It did tingle a tiny bit and I felt a satisfying little ripple of sensation that indicated something was working hard in my skin, but nothing painful or extreme. It smelled fresh and pleasantly botanical, not chemically or overly perfumed. 

Now for the big question - how often should you exfoliate your face with Pixi Glow Tonic? It claims to be gentle enough for daily use, and many people do use it daily, but tempting as it may be I’d recommend aiming for two to three nights a week. This is what I did and meant I could go ahead and use other active products on alternate nights, say the best retinol creams, without overstimulating my skin. After applying it this way every second night for a week I felt a noticeably smoothed-out texture and spotted an unusual brightness in my tone. Plus, my rosacea-prone skin remained resolutely not-red. 

It’s also worth remembering that as exfoliation exposes all those peachy-fresh skin cells, hence the glow, you should always apply the best facial sunscreen for broad-spectrum protection the following morning. In all honestly, you should wear SPF all the time full stop, but that’s another bit of beauty nagging for another story.

Which Pixi Glow Tonic should I buy?

A bottle of pixi glow tonic as taken by our reviewer

The 500ml bottle of Pixi Glow Tonic that I tested

(Image credit: Fiona McKim)

As well as being ultra-affordable, Pixi Glow Tonic is ultra-simple to get your hands on. It’s available at a wide range of online beauty retailers and there's often a deal to be had.  The classic 250ml bottle lasts you several months depending on how often you use it. If you are a die-hard fan or trying to reduce your plastic usage there is also a supersize 500ml bottle, which is what I was testing here. Plus there is a smaller 100ml that's ideal for first timers and pads so you needn’t go without Glow Tonic on the go.

Such is the success of this cult product, Pixi has created several other variants of Glow Tonic designed to tackle specific skin concerns, including Rose, Vitamin C, and Pixi Glow Collagen Tonic.  It seems the Glow Tonic family will keep going from strength to strength, and no wonder. This unbeatable combination of effectiveness, ease of use and price means it’s always on my dressing table and should be on yours too.

Our beauty editor recommends...

(opens in new tab)

Pixi Glow Tonic 250ml | RRP: $29/£18
The original and best. If this Pixi Glow Tonic review has inspired you to snap up the cult exfoliator (which it really should have) this is the bottle to buy. 

(opens in new tab)

Pixi Glow Tonic To-Go | RRP: $30/£20

What could be more handy for holidays or nights away than these pre-soaked peel pads? They contain the same radiance-boosting ingredients as the liquid toner, in handy swipe-on form. 

(opens in new tab)

Pixi Glow Boost Sheet Mask | RRP: $10/£10 for 3

Turn your daily exfoliation session into a pampering routine (opens in new tab) treat with this mask. It's soaked in the classic glycolic, ginseng, and witch hazel blend while the physical layer created by the sheet intensifies the treatment. 


Fiona McKim
Fiona McKim

 As woman&home's Beauty Channel Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about brilliant finds on womanandhome.com or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair experiments and cute shih-tzus). Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013 under industry legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know (learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism). She has since covered every corner of the industry, from interviewing dermatologists and celebrities to reporting backstage at Fashion Week and judging the w&h Beauty Awards.