Pixi Glow Tonic Review

Let’s get this out of the way first: my skin is sensitive. Like, really sensitive. Most moisturisers, toners, SPFs and anything with salicylic acid in it are totally off limits for me. So when I first started hearing of the hype around Pixi’s world famous exfoliating toner, Glow Tonic with 5% glycolic acid, my first thoughts were ‘definitely not for me’. That was until a friend (who has far more severe skin problems than me) and I wandered into Pixi’s Covent Garden shop, and she told me that her dermatologist has got her on a glycolic acid serum to treat her sensitivity. 

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It makes sense if you think about it – by gently exfoliating your skin with an acid toner you make the skin healthier – less dead skin to block it up, more chance for it to successfully regulate itself. As we spoke, I started to think it might be worth a go. After all, I have a boyfriend who loves to receive my skincare cast offs when a product doesn’t work out! So, I picked up a bottle of Glow Tonic, and tried it out that night.

Ok…I didn’t try it out that night. It took me about three days to pluck up the courage to sweep a cotton pad sprinkled with the tonic over my skin! I was so convinced that I’d have the same experience as I do with salicylic acid. Yet when I woke up the morning after, my skin was totally fine and calm. And it was fine the next time I used it too. So I carried on – slowly at first, only twice a week. Over the course of a couple of months I built it up to about five or six times a week, which is how often I use it now.

I have to say that Pixi Glow Tonic lives up to every hype ever created around it. My skin is radiant, soft, smooth, clear, scars and redness are reduced, plus I swear my skin is less sensitive now! I went through a bit of a purging period to begin with where some blocked pores came to the surface, but now practically every pore on my face is empty and invisible. Honestly I cannot believe what a transformation my skin went through! I’ve been working hard on my complexion for a long time, but this is without question the thing I was missing. Just look at my face now!

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This is how my skin looks 90% of the time now. I used to always have at least one spot hanging around, or a blotch of redness or a dry patch. Now my skin’s default position is this, which is amazing! For someone with such sensitive skin, it’s an absolute revelation to be able to use a product like this. I suspect there must be witchcraft in the formula – that or Petra Strand is a skincare genius.

I recommend that literally everyone gives Pixi Glow Tonic a try – pick it up for £18 – link

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The products that transformed my skin

I’m so excited to share this post about my skincare journey. It was a long time coming, but I wanted to wait until my skin wasn’t just going through a temporary good patch. It took a lot of product, a lot of experimenting and a lot of perseverance, but I finally have GOOD SKIN. Read on to see how I got there!

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Since I hit puberty I’ve pretty much always had spots, but I never acne. Genetically, my skin is great, it was just these constant painful spots that I couldn’t shift. This carried on until my early twenties, when I started working in the skincare industry, and learned that my skin is actually sensitive. It took me two years to get my skin looking like this and I used a lot of products along the way! I want to share with you all the products that really helped make a visible difference to my complexion. Obviously I didn’t use them at the same time – this is a long journey we’re talking about!

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After I realised that my skin was sensitive, I thought the most important place to start would be my moisturiser, considering that it was the only thing I was leaving on my skin at that point. I switched to pure rosehip oil and everything was looking up. My favourite was Fushi Organic Rosehip Oil, which is great quality, super cheap, and lasts foreverHowever, after a while my skin started to get congested. I had blackheads and blocked pores which began to turn into spots. So I switched to the only moisturiser I could think of – preservative free, super calming Avene Skin Recovery Cream
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Again, this was great for a long time (over a year!) and my skin was clear, calm and comfortable. I added in REN’s Omega Skin Oil for added hydration and a bit of nourishment, which really helped me to smooth my skin out. But then my skin started to look dull and a bit rough. I thought it might be the mineral oil in the Skin Recovery Cream – while mineral oil is great for protecting irritated skin, it’s too heavy to be a long term option. So when Avene launched their 99% natural, super light, preservative free Tolerance Extreme Emulsion I switched straight away. My skin went from ‘ok’ to RADIANT. Seriously, I’ll do a blog post on this one soon, as it’s probably one of the best products I’ve ever used on my face.

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As for cleansers – I hated cleansers. I find them SO easy to get wrong as most either don’t clean properly, or totally strip my skin, and I don’t realise until my skin is either spotty or dried out. There are only two cleansers I’ve ever loved, and those are Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser for spring/summer and REN Gentle Cleansing Milk for autumn/winter. I had tried so many others, but these worked for me so incredibly well. A lot of people favour no-rinse products when they have sensitive skin, but personally this tap water has never been an issue for me. If you’re struggling with your skin though, make sure you keep this in mind. I’m picky about make-up removers too – when I was first using the Avene Skin Recovery Cream I really needed to clear my skin out somehow (after using rosehip oil for ages!) so I used their Cleanance Micellar Water. This was great – it’s a very effective make-up remover and it really cleared my skin out. But it wasn’t something I could use in the winter, or for an extended period of time. I didn’t find another make-up remover I liked until I tried Trilogy Make-Up Be Gone Balm, which changed everything. It’s so gentle and soothing, but more importantly, so effective.

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Next up; toners and exfoliators! The Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub might not be for everyone – I know loads of people with sensitive skin who shudder at the thought of using a physical exfoliator, but I love it. Its gel consistency soothes the skin, while the small, gentle particles lift dead skin off without being too abrasive. It smells divine, and a tube will last you 6 months at least. I’ve tried millions of scrubs and this is the only one that leaves my skin soft but not traumatised. Around the same time as I started using the scrub, I added soothing Avene Water into my routine. After I finished cleansing I would spray this on and pat dry to remove the mineral compounds in London tap water. When my skin was raw and recovering, this was an essential. I still use it after I do intense face masks, but I’m happy to report that my skin is strong enough now to be able to skip this step for everyday! And finally…everyone’s favourite Pixi Glow Tonic. I have a friend with astonishingly sensitive skin, who’s dermatologist got her on a different glycolic acid product a few months ago. So when we wandered into the Pixi shop in Covent Garden, she convinced me to try it. I took it very slowly, once every three days at first, until now, I’m using it almost once a day. After the normal adjustment period, my skin looked incredible. And I even feel that it’s become less sensitive?! I really recommend giving this stuff a try, literally whatever your skin type.

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Last but certainly not least, face masks! I use a lot of face masks, but these are the ones that really helped me achieve blemish-free skin. The first one I bought, two years ago, was the Eve Lom Rescue Mask – thinking that the expense would make it a good choice. I have to say, it really did help when my skin was very spotty and I even repurchased it because I loved it so much – but I had to stop using it after everything calmed down. Now my boyfriend uses it instead. It’s a great option for blemishes, but it’s not the gentlest product in the world. Instead, a few months ago I opted for Origins Original Skin Mask, which is a gentler, cheaper version. I highly recommend this if you’re looking for deep cleansing and radiance. However, the mask that really, really made all the difference was Lush’s Rosy Cheeks fresh mask. With calamine and rose to calm and soothe redness, as well as kaolin clay to draw out impurities, this is everything that sensitive, red and spotty skin needs. I’ve been using it for over a year and I love it so much!

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I know that not everyone has skin that responds to conventional cosmetics, and have a much harder time with blemishes and sensitivity than I do. It’s also true that diet and lifestyle play a huge part in the condition of your skin – at the moment I’m happy and healthy, but I haven’t always been. My skin won’t always look like this, it’s completely unrealistic to expect to have perfect skin forever, and you should never feel bad if your skin isn’t completely flawless. That being said, I hope reading about my approach, and the things I did to improve my skin might inspire you to try a different method, or at least give you a few ideas about what to do next!

Here are links to all the products I mentioned:

Fuschi Organic Rosehip Oil – £14.50

Avene Skin Recovery Cream – £16.50

Avene Tolerance Extreme Emulsion – £13.50

REN Omega 3 Skin Oil – £25

Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser – £28

REN Gentle Cleansing Milk – £16

Cleanance Micellar Water – £16

Trilogy Make-Up Be Gone Cleansing Balm – £20.50

Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub – £22

Avene Water Spray – £7

Pixi Glow Tonic – £18

Eve Lom Rescue Mask – £55

Origins Original Skin Mask – £23

Lush Rosy Cheeks Mask – £6.95

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Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub

Lets talk about the best face scrub I have ever used.

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I love physical exfoliation. I know lots of people are all ‘oh no, you should only use chemical exfoliants they’re much gentler’ but I’m just here like, my skin is designed to come into contact with debris throughout the day, it is definitely not designed to have weird chemicals applied to it in a ritualistic fashion. Not that I’m against chemical exfoliants, I love papain, and I used retinaldehyde for the first time last night! But I don’t think there’s any truth to the claim that you shouldn’t use a scrub tailored to your skin type once or twice a week. What you should do is avoid ludicrous exfoliating particles like giant shards of walnut shell that’ll create micro-cuts in your skin.

Mario Badescu’s Botanical Exfoliating Scrub is, frankly, perfect in every way for my skin. I have very delicate skin on my face – in fact, the other day I was literally told by a top cosmetic dermatologist that I have the kind of skin that ‘doesn’t get blemishes’ because it’s so fine (#humblebrag). I do get blemishes and am annoyingly sensitive, but still, she was 100% right in the sense that my skin is very fine so absolutely can’t handle anything too rough without getting dry or red or angry at me.

Botanical Exfoliating Scrub has a very thick, gel like texture that contains finely ground palm seeds – the thickness of the gel prevents the particles from being too abrasive, and the fine-ness of the particles means they aren’t that harsh in the first place. However, the gel also holds the particles in one place against the skin, which means they scrub in small circular motions instead of following your hands in gigantic sweeps (a sure fire way to get micro-cuts on your skin.)

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The gel is made up of aloe vera, ginger, ginkgo, green tea and coconut – so it’s soothing, invigorating, antioxidant and nourishing all at the same time. The scrub has definitely made my skin smoother and more radiant, and I absolutely adore the smell, the texture, the way it glides over my skin and washes off in an instant. It’s hard to see in the picture, but when you squeeze it out it has this lovely opaqueness that almost looks glittery.

Mario Badescu’s Botanical Exfoliating Scrub is definitely the best exfoliator I’ve ever used on my combination, delicate and slightly sensitive skin. The antioxidants make it perfect for life in the city, the coconut is perfect for combatting winter dryness, and the thick, gentle texture makes it the kind of scrub you can use regularly for a very long time. Get it on Beauty Bay for £25! Link

P.S. Do you have oily, clogged, spot prone skin? I used to use a scrub that’s perfect for skin like yours. It’s too drying for me now, but my boyfriend is loving it for his acne-prone skin! Check it out.

REN Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peel Mask Review

My boyfriend and I have VERY different skin. While mine is sensitive, combination and temperamental, his is oily, prone to blackheads, spots and scarring. After suffering with severe acne as a teen and being treated with doxycycline, retinoids, Roaccutane, salicylic acid washes, benzol peroxide creams and chemical peels, he’s always understood the importance of a good skincare routine, but after the acne went away he was a bit lost.

Then along I came – beauty, skincare, science and health geek extraordinaire. Over the past year we’ve had a great time testing out products on his face, more so than on mine in many ways because his skin’s complete lack of sensitivity means there’s no stress involved! I thought, given how different our skin is, that it would be nice to share his skincare journey on here too, so that people with oily, acne-prone skin can come here for recommendations as well.

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One of the first products he bought and really loved was REN’s famous Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. This is such a cult product for anyone with congested skin, and after using it for a month he could definitely see why. With open pores that are easily clogged, he struggles with blackheads a lot. After using this for a couple of weeks, James told me that a pore on his cheek opened up and expelled something so disgusting he wouldn’t even describe it to me. It must have been stuck pretty deep in there because I hadn’t ever noticed a gross spot on his face, so take that as evidence that Radiance Renewal Mask is ridiculously effective.

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He loves how it glides over his face when he applies it, and (take note bearded people) if you have facial hair it actually distributes through it really easily. It also makes his beard less itchy and more comfortable  – by getting rid of the dead skin around the hair follicles. I like the way his face smells of apricots when he uses it, but I think he’s more enthused about the fact that it leaves his skin feeling soft, smooth and super clean!

James’s face has been brighter, softer and less oily since he started using Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask regularly, and his pores are getting smaller and smaller all the time. With its awesome blend of fruit acids and enzymes, it’s a gentler way of maintaining the harsh treatments he had as a teenager, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who suffers with congested, acne-prone or scarred skin (remember that pore I told you about? Can’t even see the mark anymore).

 

REN Micro Polish Cleanser

I’m always drawn to products with papaya extract in them – whilst they can be irritating to some, I’ve found my skin has improved so much since I started using them. So when I decided to up my exfoliation game with a new scrub, REN’s Micro Polish Cleanser, with amber granules, gylcolic acid from pineapple and papain from papaya was an instant yes. IMG_6355 It looks like I made the right choice, because I loved it so much I felt compelled to literally draw it a picture. This scrub does not mess around. It’s a gorgeous creamy consistency, with gentle exfoliation from the granules. I wouldn’t say this is a gentle product, but the granules definitely don’t give me that ‘Wow am I actually bleeding?’ feeling, which is nice! And the scent is beyond gorgeous – tangerine, orange blossom and grapefruit. It’s a gorgeous citrusy scent that makes it perfect for waking up in the morning.

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I use it in the evening though because I like to pile on my moisturiser afterwards to give my skin a real treat, and when your moisturiser is a pure oil you can’t really apply a faceful of makeup and trot out the door. Anyway, using it in the evening  is still great – the scent gives you a lovely sensation of lifting the day away. My skin really does look brighter and smoother since I’ve been using this. I really think that most people need a bit of physical exfoliation occasionally, and using this twice a week has given my skin a serious boost. It flaked a bit after the first use – I had a sample that lasted for three uses – but after the second go my skin was absolutely LOVING it.

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As you can see it’s a lovely creamy texture, that spreads evenly over the skin to distribute the amber granules, papain and glycolic acid. I adore it. REN’s Micro Polish Cleanser is it’s perfect for the warmer months as it deeply cleanses, restores radiance and provides a beautiful uplifting sensation, for both your skin and your nose.