The Women Bottling Natural Radiance

In 20 years, Pixi has gone from industry secret to cult sensation. Celebrating its anniversary in Singapore, founder Petra Strand tells us what she and her sisters did differently that made the brand a smash.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Petra Strand (middle) with her co-founders and sisters Sara (left) and Sofia (right). 

It was among the early brands to fuse skincare with makeup. In the ’90s when beauty was about “more is more”, it offered fuss-free products that got you ready in 10 minutes. And it championed a fresh, luminous face that seemed like you had a great night’s sleep.

“As a makeup artist, I wanted an easier job of getting makeup to look good. That’s why many of our products were developed as skin prep,” says Petra Strand, the Swedish-born founder of Pixi.

Together with her sisters, Sara and Sofia, she opened her first store in London’s Soho district – the same turf as big-name players such as M.A.C. But instead of being overshadowed, the fledgling brand stood out even more.

Strand explains: “People were using a lot of makeup, like today’s Instagram dos. But we’re from Sweden, and we just want to look fresh and healthy.”

It’s a typically Scandinavian approach that’s big on pragmatism and simplicity. “We’re very sporty and outdoorsy, we’ve got families and three jobs. So products have to be quick and easy but make a huge difference, be good for the skin and stay on,” she says.

Social media changed the game for Pixi. Its Glow Tonic, a skin-refining toner, had already amassed a following of industry insiders and beauty junkies. But when influencers and celebrities began raving about it around 2012, the brand hit the big time.

Till now, Pixi doesn’t pay for reviews nor advertise with famous faces. Instead, Strand, who moved to Singapore from Los Angeles in 2018 (with husband Tony and twin girls, now six), says they’d rather put the money into creating great products. “It’s very important that it does what the packaging says. If we call it the Glow Tonic, it’d better give you a glow.”

Part of the brand’s appeal is its inclusivity – prices are accessible and products suitable across a wide age spectrum. “One retailer survey showed we’re one of the few brands in the makeup bags of mums and daughters,” says Strand. – GYH 

Petra’s faves 

My Reading Room

Glow Tonic, $24

She uses it on its own when she’s too tired for a full night routine. 

My Reading Room

Rose Ceramide Cream, $38

A deeply hydrating moisturiser that packs antioxidants and a soothing scent. 

My Reading Room

Overnight Glow Serum, $39

Delivers a smoother and even-toned complexion while you sleep.