First Impressions: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow BHA + PHA Tight-Pore Toner

Love that the packing peanuts dissolve in water

As a skincare enthusiast, I evaluate the promises made vs. actual results to form my first impression. And as someone who very much enjoys the ritual of self-care, user experience is just as important. Three additional factors I find imperative are texture, scent, and how well a product plays with others. So when the brand new Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner arrived, I made it my exclusive liquid step for a week. Since many of you asked what I think, today’s first impression post is based on the very criteria. Let’s go.

One can never have enough re-usable cotton rounds – PR mailer perfection!

What is it?

The viscous and deliciously stretchy toner joins the Watermelon Extract infused ultra-hydrating range that consists of the OG overnight resurfacing mask, oil-free moisturizer, face mist, and exfoliating lip balm. I may be slightly biased since the watermelon line is my favorite by Glow Recipe. The reason? The lightweight formulas have always worked best for my combination yet dehydrated skin. If you’re curious about this latest ancillary or consider yourself a fan of this collection, my prediction is you won’t be disappointed. 

The Watermelons

What’s in it?

The new Pore-Tight Toner is an excellent hydrating solution that delivers an instant cooling and soothing sensation. Initially, the liquid feels almost fibrous (it does kinda stretch as you pull the neck of the bottle away from your palm or cotton round), but it is completely non-sticky. What you’re experiencing at first is Cactus Water Extract showing off its rich electrolyte content. The hydration-hoarding plant has the impressive ability to hold onto water for an extended period of time in order to survive in the dry desert habitat. Lucky for us, applied topically, it also quenches our dehydrated skin’s thirst. 

Yes, please.

Rich in vitamins and amino acids, Watermelon Extract is always the star in the pink lineup. This time however, the focus is on gentle exfoliants: Beta and Polyhydroxy Acids. While most may zoom in on Willow Bark Extract as the source of BHA (which is mild and effective with consistent use), the formula also includes Betaine Salicylate, an ingredient derived from the sugar beet and often used as an alternative to the traditional Salicylic Acid. Read: since it’s oil-soluble, it has the ability to penetrate deep within the pore. But wait, we’re not quite done yet. It also utilizes anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial Tea Tree extract, which is known to make enlarged pores appear more refined.

Could this BE any better?

Now, onto the less known and much underappreciated PHA. If you’re not familiar with Polyhydroxy Acids (Gluconolactone on the inci list); it’s a cousin of Alpha Hydroxy Acids with a larger molecular weight than let’s say, Lactic or Glycolic. This means that, because of its size, it works only on the very top layer of the skin, making it a more gentle substitute for those with sensitivities. Similar to AHAs, it helps slough off dead cell buildup and reveal smoother, brighter, and more radiant looking skin. The new toner also highlights soothing and antioxidant-rich botanicals such as Cucumber, Hibiscus, and Licorice Root Extracts as well as skin plumping Hyaluronic Acid. The ingredient deck here is no joke. 

Bart 1 : Pores 0

Does it tighten my pores?

That’s what most of you want to know. And I get it, because it’s a real life skincare concern of mine, too. It does help. Basing one’s judgment of a multi-tasking formula on a single claim is tricky, especially after only a week. With that said, I plan to use the new Glow Recipe toner as part of my routine these next few months. It is not replacing my Biologique Recherche P50 1970 toner but it isn’t meant to do so. It is however, a great addition to my lineup of products that do make a difference when tackling enlarged pores. Since I am diligent about using products with Niacinamide (daytime) and Retinol (nighttime), this new PHA + BHA toner complements both seamlessly as part of AM and PM regimens. Because teamwork.

Handle with care.

Important details

  • a great hydrating essence and gentle liquid exfoliant hybrid
  • in spite of the texture, it dries quickly without that dreaded tacky feeling left behind by some thicker liquid formulas (looking at you Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Mist)
  • it layers great under sunscreen
  • re: application — I prefer to skip the cotton round and apply it to the palm of my hand and then press into skin
  • the scent evokes notes of cucumber, honeydew, and a spa treatment room
  • the glass bottle is beautiful and I hope not to drop it because the bathroom tiles were *very* expensive and I have nice looking feet
  • if you’re Rouge level, you can snag it during the Sephora Spring Sale event at 20% off until Friday (code: SPRINGSAVE)

$34 (150ml) at and


1 Comment

  1. Charli
    April 29, 2020 / 3:34 pm

    Fantastic review! I have mine waiting for me in my mailbox, can’t wait to try it! ~ Charli

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