IOP Icons: Pixi Glow Tonic

Welcome to a brand new gorgeous section of Infirm of Purpose; IOP Icons. This is where I talk about products I consider icons. They may be industry icons, they may be completely unknown, all that matters is that they are iconic to MOI. The Blair Waldorf of Infirm of Purpose if you will.

The very first recipient of the “honour” of IOP Icon is the Pixi Glow Tonic*. A product that will be instantly recognisable if you’ve ever had any interest in skincare, or if you’ve been following me for any length of time. I always go on about this stuff. It’s one of the best acid toners around on the market. So let’s get into it.

Gorgeous gorgeous gworls have personalised Glow Tonic.

As you can see from the fact that my name is displayed across this bottle, this is a press sample. But rest assured, if they didn’t send it to me, I’d be purchasing it. I always want to have this on hand in some capacity.

Cast your mind back to 1999. The millennium is approaching, everyone’s life is about to change (despite me impudently telling my father I’d be living forever and would simply see another millennium – it wasn’t a big deal to 8 year old me). A -at this point in time- small brand, Pixi dropped a lil product called Glow Tonic. In a similar vein to other exfoliants like Biologique Recherche p50, or Alpha H Liquid Gold, this was what would come to be known as an acid toner.

It continued being created in the London store where founder Petra Strand had set up shop (It’s still arguably the biggest independent skincare brand) until 2012, where juggernaut blogger Caroline Hirons spied it on the shelves of the store at an event. The resulting post, went viral. Pixi Glow Tonic was an instant sellout, and it hasn’t stopped selling since. Probably one of the key instances where brands could directly see the impact of blogging and new forms of media (although you’ll still have to pry magazines away from my cold, dead fingers).

Hirons also coined the term acid toners, of which Glow Tonic is a key early example. A pioneer if you will. The popularity of this product can be directly linked to the continuing ubiquity of the terms “glow” and “tonic” in the industry. Not to mention the multiple knockoffs on the market. The product also changed the fortunes of Pixi, taking it truly global, and up until 2020 was absolutely everywhere (it still is but I can see the covid pinch hitting in their understandably cutting a few vendors and lowering stock levels).

So that’s all great, it’s an industry icon; but why is it an icon for me?

This comes in two parts for me. Firstly, the results are amazing and instant. It gives such a great glow but without irritation for me. Secondly, it has quite a lot of personal significance in my blogging… life? Career feels inaccurate haha. I’ve worked with many many wonderful brands over the years, but the day I realised Pixi had accepted me as being on their mailing list and sent me their first pack (consisting of the full glow range), was one of the greatest moments over the past 8 years. Pixi had almost seemed mystical to me. Absolutely everywhere, but at the same time completely out of reach. Idk what it was, I’m not in this game for product or money, but something just struck a cord and it had such an impact on me.

Now let’s talk about the product itself.

It’s a 5% glycolic acid, which is a perfect amount for glycolic for me. She’s the strongest aha around, so a smaller amount is definitely better. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking because it’s weaker you can use it daily – do not. Barrier maintenance is the mantra of 2022.

This wonderful formula is balanced well by sodium hydroxide to neutralise that acid a bit, glycerin, aloe, panthenol and urea hydrate. Horse chestnut and ginseng give antioxidant support and witch hazel removes excess oils. It seems simple, but it’s so much more than you think. They’ve done a brilliant job. I particularly like the addition of horse chestnut and ginseng – two ingredients that my skin responds well to.

If you’re familiar with Pixi you’ll know that they like creating “families” of products centered around a particular theme or ingredient. Naturally all of these families have their own representative tonic – no doubt with the hope that one of them will achieve the popularity of Glow. However they’ve made them so that you can use the families in conjunction with each other depending on what your skin needs. In this lovely interview with Nylon Singapore, founder Petra Strand discusses neutralising Glow Tonic with Rose Tonic. This way you get the exfoliation still but without too much if your skin doesn’t tolerate it too well. I’ve heard this tip echoed by education director Amanda Bell on an Instagram live. It’s delightful tbh. Feels so great on the skin.

So this wraps up the first IOP Icons post; there’s definitely a few more on the way. Which products do you think I’m going to feature? Make sure to let me know in the comments here or by interacting with me on my Instagram – @infirmofpurpose_skincare.

*Press sample.

Pixi can be tough to find in stock atm (cheers c*vid). Try Pretty Little Thing, and Adore Beauty. But you may need to search around; there’s lots of vendors, but are they in stock?

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