pixi Overnight Retinol Oil Review – Confusion

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Because I know I will get that question, I will address it right here in the first sentence: No, I do not know how high the percentage of Retinol in the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil actually is. And I don’t  have the means to find out.


pixi Overnight Retinol Oil
One bottle of pixi Overnight Retinol Oil


I will give you an educated guess though, based on my experience using the product and reading ingredient lists, and I will compare it in terms of effect to two other Retinol Oils: Sunday Riley Luna and Instytutum RetinOil.

Both of which, technically, don´t contain any Retinol. You find that confusing? You are not alone!

But more of that later, let’s talk about the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil first.



What pixi Overnight Retinol Oil claims

This exquisite oil blend helps to restore skin plumpness and improve the appearance of fine lines and pores.


Some facts about the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil

Prize and size

One dropper bottle contains 30 ml and retails for 24 $ on their homepage here. You only need a few drops to cover your face, so the 30 ml will last you a long time.


Closeup of the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil
Closeup of the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil


Texture and smell

This is one of the richer face oils, in fact too rich to be pleasant on my more combination skin. It feels very nourishing and has a tendency to stay on the skin for quite some time after application. It smells like an oil, nothing special to report here.


How to use the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil

In general Retinoids are supposed to be used directly cleansing for maximum efficacy and in the evenings. If you want to avoid irritation, layering it on top of a moisturizer can be very helpful.

As I did not find the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil to be particularly strong, I think both methods are fine. My preferred way of using it was after applying a more watery serum formula as last step in my evening routine.


Ingredients of the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil

Favorable ingredients
  • Sweet Almond (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) Oil: Rich in Vitamin E, emollient
  • Retinyl Palmitate: Weakest form of retinoid, bound to a fatty acid. Less irritant, but usually less effective
  • Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride:Occlusive, antioxidant
  • Glycerin: Humectant
  • Retinol: deactivates the matrix metalloproteinases that break down collagen, increases cell turnover, and improves skin’s moisture retention
  • Cetyl Palmitate: Emollient
  • Ceramide NP (Ceramide 3): ca. 21% of total ceramide pool in stratum corneum, works synergistically with Ceramide 1 to improve skin barrier function
  • Squalane: Occlusive, non-oily oil, natural in skin
  • Jojoba Seed Oil: Emollient, moisturizing, lightweight
  • Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil:Rich in Vitamin E and linoleic acid, anti-inflammatory
  • Tocopherol: Vitamin E, antioxidant
  • Tocopheryl Acetate: More stable form of Vitamin E, antioxidant
  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate: stable, oil-soluble form of Vitamin C
  • C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate: Emollient
  • C18-36 Acid Glycol Ester: Emollient, fatty acid
  • C18-36 Acid Trigylceride: Emollient
  • Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1/-7/-38: Matrixyl complex, increases synthesis of collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans (no independent studies)
  • Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil: Emollient, rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 as well as Vitamin E
  • Borago officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil: Antiinflammatory, rich in gamma linoleic acid


Other ingredients
  • Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower/Leaf Extract: fragrance
  • Polysorbate 20: Surfactant
  • Laureth-23: Surfactant
  • Trideceth-6 Phosphate: Surfactant, emulsifier
  • Phenoxyethanol: Preservative
  • Sodium Hydroxide: pH adjuster
  • Sorbitan Laurate: Surfactant


The main oil here is Sweet Almond Oil, responsible for the rich texture, and then a blend of Squalane, Jojoba, Sunflower, Cranberry and Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, all of which are present at less than 1% of the formula. It also contains humectants, a ceramide and peptides from the Matrixyl-Complex.

In terms of Retinol concentration, I can´t really tell. Retinylpalmitate is pretty high up the ingredient list, actually the second ingredient, which indicates a high concentration. At the same time Retinylpalmitate needs three conversion steps to reach the “active form”, and as the conversion in the skin is pretty ineffective, high concentrations of retinylpalmitate don´t equal high concentrations of the effective form. Some experts even doubt that retinylpalmitate applied topically has any effect at all.

Retinol per se, one conversion step closer to the active form, appears as seventh ingredient – before Phenoxyethanol and Sodium Hydroxide. That way I can´t say for sure if the concentration is above 1% or below – my personal impression though is that it is less.


Does the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil live up to its claims?


Well, calling it an oil blend when it is basically Sweet Almond Oil with a few drops of other oils mixed in may be a bit far fetched, but it technically is a blend of different oils that is moisturizing and will improve the appearance of fine lines and pores.


How does the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil compare to…

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil

To increase the confusion some of you might feel after me going on about Retinylpalmitate and Retinol – Sunday Riley Luna does not contain either of them. It contains Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (or granactive retinoid), which works on the same receptors, but in a different way. It is said to be as effective but less irritating, but we don’t have as much data on it as we have on the retinoids.

Other than that it is a little lighter than the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil, but for me comparable in the fact that I had no irritation and only very weak results.


Read my full review of Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil here.


Instytutum RetinOil

The other Retinol Oil I have tried is by Instytutum, and it contains a mixture of again Granactive Retinoid and Bakuchiol (which I talked in depth about here). So yes, again not really a member of the retinol family, but a blend of related ingredients with supposedly the same effects.

Instytutum RetinOil is similar oily in texture, I experienced again no irritation but also the results weren’t strong enough for my personal needs.


Read my full review of the Instytutum RetinOil here.


Would I repurchase the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil?


I don’t like the texture and I am not convinced I get any relevant Retinol Action from using it.


Who do I recommend the pixi Overnight Retinol Oil to?

People with dry skin and people with sensitive skin that want a very gentle form of retinol because they are prone to irritation.

If you are a seasoned retinol user or have bad hyperpigmentation or signs of aging you want to tackle, something else might be better suited to your needs.


pixi Overnight Retinol Oil
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