Glow Recipe’s watermelon toner is inspired by this Korean facial treatment

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I’ve been hoarding toner since I first started getting zits as a teenager. The product often came with acne care sets, but I had never really understood what it was for. Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Pore Tight Toner gives a whole new meaning to the toner category. And it’s actually based on a popular treatment in Korea.

If you haven’t heard of Glow Recipe, you may be living under a rock. The creators behind the brand are Sarah Lee and Christine Chang. Both women first appeared on “Shark Tank” with the intent to bring Korean beauty to the American market after working in product development, business strategy and global marketing for brands like Giorgio Armani, Lancôme, and Kiehl’s. The brand’s first fruit-infused banger, the cult-favorite Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, and the jolly rancher-scented watermelon theme is alive and well in the brand’s most recent addition to the fruit-filled line — the PHA + BHA pore-tightening toner.

This toner is special as the skin-loving product is meant to replicate one of Korea’s most popular facial treatments, per Lee and Chang.

“We chose to do this because we were very inspired by the Korean facial treatment called aqua peel facial,” Lee said. “Like its name, you’re getting a peel/pore treatment while infusing hydration all at the same time.”

Shop: Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner, $34

Credit: Glow Recipe.

Lee and Chang also found that toner was being skipped in people’s skincare routine. Due to some toners and their harsh alcoholic ingredients, it can strip the skin of natural moisture. The founders’ intent was to treat the Watermelon Glow Toner as a first step after cleansing. But mostly, to ensure any other products to follow in your skincare routine would penetrate the skin.

“BHA is oil-soluble, so it will go in deeper through your pores and it will dissolve any sort of gunk that you have in your pores and make sure that’s cleared away,” Lee explains.

This toner does more than just exfoliate the skin. Instead of using alcohol, the poly hydroxy acid (PHA) featured in the toner ensures moisture from the hyaluronic acid, cactus water and watermelon in the toner is locked in. And according to Lee and Chang, hydration in every skincare step is the “Korean beauty philosophy.”

“Every step should have as much hydration benefit as possible,” says Chang. “So, we’re setting the tone in the first step by hydrating, building that healthy foundation and also clearing away anything that has built up on your skin before moving onto your next step.”

For those skincare nerds who already have Glow Recipe’s entire line and wonder how this toner fits in with the brand’s existing routine, there’s an answer for that, too. Lee and Chang recommend that after using your cleanser or their Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, you can either throw on the brand’s Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist and toner or skip misting and use the toner as a first step leave-on treatment. After that, you can apply the Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask and move onto the brand’s Pineapple Bright C-Serum to brighten the skin from dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Finally, you can seal in all that moisture with either the Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream or the brand’s Pink Juice Moisturizer.

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