• Shelli

Glow Recipe Watermelon PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner ($34, 150ml) is a toner that helps hydrate the skin and tighten pores, leaving you with supple, smooth skin. Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner is ideal for those who are concerned about dehydration, large pores, blackheads and hyperpigmentation. Suitable for all skin types (dry, normal, sensitive and oil/combination skin), this alcohol-free toner is made with Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs) and willow bark, a natural form of Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs).

But before I get into the skincare benefits of PHAs and BHAs, the first question you are probably asking is, what is a toner and why do I need it? This helpful article from the Today Show’s website provides a great explanation of what a toner does and the benefits of adding a toner to your skincare routine. According to Dr. Hadley King, a New York City-based, board certified dermatologist who is cited in the article, “toners are most helpful and necessary for people with oily or acne-prone skin, or for people who want extra cleansing after wearing makeup or other heavy skin products like sunscreen.” Some of the other benefits of toners listed in the article are: 1) It shrinks pores; 2) It restores your skin’s pH balance; 3) It adds a layer of protection by reducing the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin; 4) It acts like a moisturizer and; 5) It refreshes the skin.

Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner also contains two popular skincare ingredients that are an important part of a comprehensive skincare system: PHAs and BHAs. According to this article from the Dermstore Blog, PHAs help to resurface and smooth skin, and help remove the buildup of dead skin cells. PHAs larger molecular size doesn’t penetrate skin as deeply as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid, but this means that PHAs are less irritating to the skin, making it ideal for anyone, even sensitive skin types. PHAs also have antioxidant benefits and humectant properties that help to hydrate the skin and have been shown to boost the benefits of other treatments such as when used in tandem with retinoids to clear acne, hydroquinone to improve discoloration and with lasers and microdermabrasion to enhance post-procedure results. You can read more about the benefits of PHAs here and here (under the Key Ingredients tab).

Another article from the Dermstore blog states that BHAs penetrate deeper into the skin and pores than AHAs, making BHAs ideal for oil or pore-clogged skin. And, BHAs are anti-inflammatory and help prevent acne lesions from forming and contain the same antioxidant and anti-aging effects as AHAs. The watermelon toner includes 2 types of BHA: Willow Bark, a gentle, natural source of BHA, and sugarcane, birch, and royal azalea tree-derived Betaine Salicylate, an oil-soluble ingredient that effectively penetrates the pore's outer surface and decongests clogged pores, making it one of the most effective ingredients in reducing the appearance of pores and blackheads. Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner combines these two powerful hydroxy acids with watermelon, hyaluronic acid, and cactus water to smooth and soothe the skin, without stripping skin of its moisture, for poreless, glowing skin.

About the Brand

Glow Recipe was created by beauty industry veterans Sarah Lee and Christine Chang to elevate K-beauty to an everyday luxury. Glow Recipe Skincare uses unexpected sensorial textures, colorful packing, and innovative ingredients to create hybrid textures that reflect the philosophy of Korean skincare. Glow Recipe creates easy to use skincare products that make your skin look naturally glowing and lit-from within. Additionally, Glow Recipe makes natural, fruit-powered skincare designed to help bring out your inner glow. Glow Recipe skincare essentials are clean, cruelty-free and free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, you can read more about their formulation standards here.


  • Makes skin feel hydrated, smooth and soothed

  • Makes skin look poreless, supple and glowy

How to Use

After cleansing in the AM and PM, dispense formula into palms and gently press into face and neck until fully absorbed. Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner can also be applied with a cotton pad. If using during the day, follow with sunscreen. Watch a video of how to apply Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner here. The watermelon toner can also be used as a spot treatment and mini mask, you can read more about that here.


  • Watermelon Extract: Hydrates, delivers essential vitamins and amino acids, and helps to soothe skin.  

  • Cactus Water: Seals in moisture and prevents moisture loss while delivering electrolytes and antioxidants; contributes to the unique stringy, bouncy texture.

  • PHA: Provides a gentle exfoliation for softer, smoother skin. 

  • 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. 

My Take

I purchased Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner after reading many positive reviews on Sephora. And to be honest, part of the reason I purchased this toner is because I liked the packaging, its light pink color and the diverse models the company used in its commercials. All these elements made the Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner seem fresh and fun, which I have learned are trademarks of Glow Recipe skincare products. When I received the toner, it was just as fun and fresh in person. The Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner came in a clear, heavy, wavy glass bottle, with a plastic stopper in the spout that prevents spillage. The toner itself is a light pink bouncy liquid with a very light fruit fragrance. On the Glow Recipe website, they confirm that their fragrance is always less than 0.5% of their formulation and all their fragrances are vegan and free of PCM compounds, acetone, etc.

On their website, Glow Recipe suggests that you can apply the toner with your hands, but I prefer to use it with a cotton pad because it is less messy. I apply the toner once a day, at the end of the day, after cleansing my face and before applying my serums or night creams. It is very moisturizing and soothing, making it a far cry from the harsh toners/astringents that I used as a teenager. After applying the toner, my face feels refreshed, and not sticky and it removes any traces of dirt or makeup that my face cleanser may have missed. And most importantly, Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner does not break me out.

I really like this toner, it is hydrating, it has a very delicate and refreshing fruity fragrance and it preps my skin for the rest of my night skincare routine. The only critique I have is that I did not notice any reduction in the size of my pores from using this toner, perhaps others may reap that benefit if they use the toner twice a day or use it as a mini mask. But, nevertheless, I still recommend Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner if you want to try mid-range toner that is hydrating and does not cause breakouts.

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About Me

Hi! I'm Shelli, a travel enthusiast, avid reader and prolific reviewer of everything from books to skincare.  Read more...


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