How to Use Pixi's Buzzy New Retinol Toner

When you talk to some disciples of retinol, they'll refer to the vitamin A derivative as a "liquid gold" that's magical enough to solve your skin issues, do your taxes, and set you up on a blind date with a prince after just one application. Slews of retinol products drop regularly, and it can be hard to keep up. But today, I'm here to introduce you to one that deserves your attention — and also a spot in your medicine cabinet. Meet Pixi's new Retinol Tonic ($15), an affordable — and genuinely new — way to use the chemical.

At first glance, the product might be confusing. When I first held the UK brand's bottle, my face was the epitome of "Whaaaa?" I had so many feelings and questions regarding the purpose of a retinol toner. How does it work? Is it gentle? Should you follow it with serum if there's already retinol in the product?

"This is a perfect maintenance product for retinol first timers."

To get to the bottom of these very important inquiries that were bound to keep me up all night, I reached out to Amanda Bell, global color mbassador for Pixi Beauty. She began by explaining who should buy the toner, saying, "This is a perfect maintenance product for Retinol first timers. It contains botanicals such as rosemary and jasmine to soothe, plump, and prevent dehydration. When compared to other retinoids, this delivers a gentler effect."

Like any toner, this tonic should be used right after you cleanse. Pat it into your face with a cotton pad (scrubs like me just use their hands, but the formula works much better via cotton pad), and don't wash it off. According to Bell, the toner "enhances the result" of your following skincare steps like serum or moisturizer. That said, don't pair this retinoid with products that contain glycolic acid, because combining the two ingredients can over-irritate the skin. Bell said that this toner plays nicely with antioxidant-rich serums or hydrating essences. According to the pro, "This toner will further amplify the benefits of those products."

I'll admit that I was a little worried patting this tonic onto my face at first. I have sensitive skin, and it's taken a lot of hard work and patience to clear my hormonal acne. I've noticed that some retinols can have a slight sting, but this one doesn't. It truly feels nice to put on, and I think it cleanses my skin without putting it through hell. Also, ICYMI, this toner costs $15, and you can pick it up at trusty ol' Target. Such accessibility makes it perfect for anyone who loves The Ordinary products' price tags, but can't get over the brand's workplace drama. If you choose to buy it, let my parting words haunt you forever (in a good way!): be sure to always finish your skincare routine with an SPF, as the ingredient can make your face more susceptible to sun damage.