Toner! It’s a step I don’t care enough about to actually bother with! And yet, somehow I felt compelled to toss this lil pink-and-green bottle into my virtual cart during my last Target order. Is it useful? Is it bunk? Can you make a cocktail with it? (I feel like Eliot Rosewater would want to know?) Let’s find out.
WHAT THAT IS
Pixi’s own site describes it as “rose hydrosol based toner that hydrates and neutralizes skin” and notes that it “normalizes hydration levels and gently removes any impurities.” Okay so that sounds fairly multipurpose — a moisturizer, a traditional “toner,” and a light cleansing water? BUT WHAT’S IN THERE?
Ingredients : Water/Aqua/Eau, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Propanediol, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium PCA, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Triethyl Citrate, Rose Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Rosa Canina Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Sambucus Nigra Flower (Elder Flower) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Betaine, Sodium Citrate, Montmorillonite, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate
Okay first off, a “hydrosol” is one of the products of steam-distilling of flowers or herbs to obtain their essential oils or fragrance to use in perfumes and such, in case you were unfamiliar with the term (I saved you a google, UR WELCOME). Propanediol is another name for propylene glycol, and it’s a pretty good hydrator. Sodium PCA is a naturally occurring substance in skin, and is a great hydrator as well. Triethyl citrate comes from citric acid and is used as a stabilizer/emulsifier. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative and a potentially problematic one … that’s in A BILLION THINGS right now. I don’t like that this is so high up in the ingredients list, but oh well. Rosa Canina (DOG ROSE lol) extract may have some antioxidant properties; Camellia Sinensis aka green tea ditto plus some skin-soothing/anti-inflammatory properties, as does the Sambucus Nigra and Chamomilla Recutita. Then we’ve got some of the “that’s in everything” pH adjusters and preservatives, plus Montmorillonite, which is a type of clay, and which might also have some skin-soothing properties.
Anyway, this all sounds pretty much Fine if not paradigm-shiftingly radically spectacular? But the proof, as it were, is going to be in the eating. No wait, I mean the usage. Don’t eat this, maybe? If you want a rosewater thing you can actually cook with or put in a cocktail, here’s this fancy Nielsen-Massey one (I freaking love their vanilla), or possibly better, here’s a two pack of Cortas 10oz rose water and orange blossom water for under twelve bucks, which has obvs already gone into my cart.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
I’ve been using this [sporadically] for a few weeks now, and … I like it! The little bottle has a twist-off cap that’s not fussy or annoying to remove or replace, and the bottleneck has an insert that allows just a little to come out with each shake (you could easily remove this if you’re the impatient type). The scent is a faint but true rose — it doesn’t smell fake or cloying, and it’s strong enough to be a nice experience during use, but not strong enough that you can smell your own face afterwards. The texture is pretty typical for a toner — very thin, basically watery, but with a little bit of slip to it.
DOES IT DO A THING?
Does it take off makeup? It does not. Okay well if you’ve been out doing stuff and gotten kinda sweaty and you want to do a quick “freshening” without actually washing your face? Yeah, a little of this on a cotton pad is terrific — but no, it absolutely won’t take off hardcore eye makeup. Is it moisturizing? I actually feel like it is! In a very light/sheer/water-based way, of course. This will not replace your actual moisturizer, unless you have the oiliest skin imaginable and cannot abide the feel of lotions. It definitely makes my skin feel plumper and more hydrated, and I feel like I’ll really appreciate this more in the winter, as a layering step post-cleansing / pre-moisturizer or sunscreen. (And I kind wish I had this while I was still using Retin-A Micro, grumble.) Does it make any of your treatments/actives/etc absorb better or work more effectively? Eh, not that I can tell. I’ve tried applying this before my azelaic cream, C serums, and so forth, and none of them feel different and my results don’t seem to differ, so I’d guess that any actual benefit in that arena would be fairly minimal. One great thing to note : this stuff has definitely unquestionably NOT caused any breakouts or other sensitivity issues for me. Yay!
THE VERDICT : I DIG IT. I don’t think this is destined to become a forever-staple product for me — I’m just too lazy to regularly incorporate a “toner” step into my routine, and if I did, there’re a billion other products to try, you know? But this stuff is VERY enjoyable to use, aesthetically appealing, and it’s just $15/4oz at Target or at Pixi’s own site which is hardly a crazy budget-busting price. I’ve really appreciated it as a midday half-assed “cleanse” when I’m at home and working/cleaning and have gotten kind of grimy but I’m insufficiently motivated to actually wash my face — this is a great little refresher that’s also moisturizing enough that I don’t feel obligated to follow it up with a serum or lotion. Worth it! Might even buy it again sometime!
Tried this one, or got another fave from Pixi? Tell! <3