Glow Recipe is a K-beauty-inspired clean skincare line that could best be described as fruity fun. Starting in 2017 in New York, Glow Recipe shot to fame with their watermelon skincare and, later on, their viral Glow Recipe toner. From a watermelon sleeping mask to avocado eye cream and banana souffle cream to plum serum, Glow Recipe has added a fruity twist that’s as skin-beneficial as they are addictive. One thing you must know before you buy Glow Recipe, especially if you must use excellent products for health reasons, is that Glow Recipe does use a small % of fragrance in most of their products. Having known Glow Recipe for years before it became the Glow Recipe of today, I’m excited to share my honest thoughts finally. I’ve tried nearly every product in the Glow Recipe line, and I’m sharing the best and worst Glow Recipe products in this Glow Recipe review.
I’ll share my favorite and least favorite Glow Recipe products in this review, but first, a little about this mega-popular brand’s story. I’ve known Glow Recipe from their very early days when they first became known through appearing on Shark Tank to pitch the idea of Glow Recipe. In the beginning years, Glow Recipe was a small startup funded by young founders who were former colleagues back in Korea. They launched Glow Recipe as a K-beauty online store selling skincare products from Korea that weren’t easily accessible in the US. Fast forward a few years, and Glow Recipe launched their first namesake product, the Watermelon Glow Sheet Mask (now discontinued), and it caused a frenzy selling out multiple times.
Today, Glow Recipe brings in multiple seven figures annually and is sold at Sephora stores. The Glow Recipe founders Sarah Lee and Christine Chang utilize the Korean skincare industry’s know-how with actives popular in the US (niacinamide, acids, retinol) to make fruit-powered skincare for all.
Is Glow Recipe Natural?
Glow Recipe is not an organic or 100% natural skincare brand. Articles on the web saying so are misleading. They use synthetics in certain products, and many Glow Recipe products contain fragrance. The artificial scent is very noticeable to me, and I don’t understand why they add this when natural scents are so much more enjoyable than fake. If you’re looking for certified organic Korean skincare, my go-to brand is Whamisa (code ORGANICBEAUTYLOVER saves 20%)
One more thing about Glow Recipe doesn’t sit quite right with me: for a Korean American brand, they do very little to uplift Asian American voices and might as well not be AAPI-founded. Their most recent PR influencer trip had but one token Asian American influencer. SheaMoisture would never. Scrolling through the Glow Recipe Instagram, you can tell that the significant influencers they choose to work with (and pay) officially are…not Asian American. There’s hardly any Asian representation on their social media. In an industry where Asian Americans are, but an afterthought and never considered the beauty standard, it feels like they’re only perpetuating the norm instead of challenging it. I find this unsettling, especially when violence towards Asian Americans is at an all-time high due to the pandemic. For a significant global brand firmly rooted in Korean heritage and inspired by K-beauty, Glow Recipe can and should do better to showcase Asian faces and uplift AAPI voices (if they won’t do it, who will). I love how Cocokind, another Asian American-founded brand, hires Asian Americans into their social media team to be the face of the brand and redefines the beauty standard in their way for their community. So that’s my TED talk for today.
Watermelon Glow PHA BHA Pore Tight Toner
The Watermelon Glow PHA BHA Pore Tight Toner is the perfect marriage of hydrating and exfoliation. The Glow Recipe toner is ideal if you find acid toners to dry. The Watermelon Glow PHA BHA Pore Tight Toner begins in a base of cactus water and has plenty of additional hydrating ingredients like Watermelon Extract and Hyaluronic Acid high up in the ingredients list. It’s a bouncy liquid that feels denser than a typical toner but still lightweight. I find the scent very sweet and slightly herbal, with a hint of cucumber.
The acid strength is the Watermelon Glow PHA BHA Pore Tight Toner is not the strongest compared to other acid toners, so if you’re looking for pore-clearing solid power, I wouldn’t recommend the Glow Recipe one. There’s no tingling sensation from the acids. But if you want a super hydrating toner with gentle exfoliation, the Watermelon Glow PHA BHA Pore Tight Toner is worth trying. If you’re not looking for acids in your toner, the bounciest organic Korean toner ever is the Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence.
Ingredients: Opuntia Ficus-Indica (Cactus) Extract, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Gluconolactone, Sodium Polyglutamate, Betaine Salicylate, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, Lactobacillus/Watermelon Fruit Ferment Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Brassica Oleracea Capitata (Cabbage) Leaf Extract, Ipomoea Batatas Root Extract, Sorbitan Oleate, Levulinic Acid, Sodium Levulinate, Fragrance/Parfum