What do you call someone who works somewhere you used to work, but who joined after you left? Are they still a colleague? Not sure. But whatever, someone who now works at one of my old stomping grounds drew my attention to a product that gave her a skin reaction. It is a product that has got quite a lot of love from beauty bloggers, so I thought I’d take a look. It is Pixi Glow Tonic and seems to be the most popular offering from Pixi by Petra. According to the website this company has been set up by a makeup artist called Petra Strand. She claims 20 years experience so ought to know what she is doing.
The reviews for it on Makeup Alley are generally though not universally positive. Looking at the ingredient list it isn’t surprising that some people find it a bit too toning. It contains glycolic acid which is an AHA and which has the effect of increasing cell turnover. There isn’t a clear line dividing toning the skin from irritating the skin. It also contains witch hazel which most of us know very well from experience has a strong effect on the skin. If you have sensitive skin this toner probably isn’t for you. Or to put it another way, if you like your toner astringent I dare say this product will give you the hit you are looking for.
Reading the back of the pack, the ingredient that made my eyebrow rise was the hexyl nicotinate. This is an interesting choice because it is a vasodilator. All this means is that it causes the blood vessels near to the surface of the skin to increase in diameter and to increase their blood flow. This is quite a noticeable effect and with the right concentration in a gel you can actually write your name on your arm using this stuff. Its very close cousin methyl nicotinate is used to test gas masks, because the reddening of the skin it causes is a quick and easy way of checking if anything is getting through.
The resemblance of the name to nicotine is no coincidence. Hexyl nicotinate is a derivative of nicotine and probably works as a vasodilator by breaking down to nicotine in the skin. This vasodilatory effect is actually one of the effects of smoking, although the long term effect is to prevent effective vasodilation. I suppose the constant overstimulation eventually stops the response working at all. This has been studied a lot in the context of heart disease, but I have often wondered whether it also explains the way that smoking causes premature ageing of the skin. Smoking must reduce the blood flow to the skin in the long run so I think that might be significant. Some people are worried about giving up smoking because they might put on weight. The other factor to consider is that it is making you look like an old bag. So it’s swings and roundabouts I suppose.
I am not so sure it is a good idea to include a vasodilator in a skin toner. A short burst won’t do you any harm and I guess the short burst of red colour on the skin probably looks good. But it doesn’t have any particular benefit either. And it does mean that you will probably irritate more people with sensitive skin. If my time shifted colleague is reading this, one of the people she now works with reacts really strongly to nicotinate. In fact she goes bright red quickly enough that you could use her as a traffic light at a pinch. Don’t try this on her without warning her!
On the whole, I think this is probably a toner for people who like toners and one to steer clear of if your skin is a bit sensitive.
Here is the full ingredient list.
Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Glycolic Acid, Ammonium Glycolate, Glycerin, Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Hexyl Nicotinate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Biotin, Polysorbate 20, Fragrance.