Glow Recipe is the K-beauty-inspired brand that formulates natural, fruit-powered skincare designed to help bring out your inner glow. All of its products are 100% natural and cruelty free, which makes it easy to look good and feel good simultaneously. From watermelon PHA+BHA toners to plum serums infused with hyaluronic acid and retinol-based avocado sleeping eye masks, it’s clear to see why the brand has so many cult beauty favorites.
Founded: By Christine Chang and Sarah Lee, in 2017
Location: New York City
Best known for: Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
Holy grail product: Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner
Fun fact: Glow Recipe customers are referred to as the ‘’Glow gang.’’
Other brands you’ll love: Glossier, Drunk Elephant, COSRX, Etude House
When Glow Recipe founders Christine Chang and Sarah Lee were living in New York and working in the beauty industry, they noticed global brands looking to Korea for the latest advancements in skincare and ingredients. As a result, ‘’the whole industry was intrigued, but the K-beauty brands didn’t tell the whole story behind the approach,’’ Lee tells Byrdie.
Both Chang and Lee grew up in Korea, where beauty was interwoven into their everyday lives. Their mothers and grandmothers took pride in their beauty routines, utilizing natural ingredients as much as possible. Witnessing this over the years is what inspired Chang and Lee to introduce Glow Recipe to the world. According to Chang and Lee, their mission was to ‘’introduce the latest skincare innovations from South Korea to the world and offer accessible, best-in-class skincare.’’ They also wanted to educate consumers on K-beauty trends and how to use advanced ingredients to get the best out of their skincare routines.
Glow Recipe skincare was launched a few years after the Glow Recipe website, but the brand's mission remains the same. ‘’We want to empower our customers (who are nicknamed the ‘Glow gang’) with the right education and tools to be able to create a skincare routine that works best for them each day—after all, as your skin’s needs change, so should the products you use,’’ says Chang. The brand prides itself on making K-beauty effective, easy, and fun.
Some of you may know that the Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA toner went viral on TikTok, but the addition of watermelon as a key ingredient in Glow Recipe products was actually inspired by the founder’s grandmothers, who would rub cold watermelon rinds on their backs during the hot summer months. The watermelon rinds would provide instant relief, which made Chang and Lee think about the potential skin benefits watermelon could have. The idea of pairing fruits with active ingredients such as AHA and BHA appealed to them both, and as a result, the best-selling Watermelon Sleeping Mask was born. The idea of pairing fruits with active ingredients remains at the core of the brand today.
Here are a few Glow Recipe products you should have on your radar.
Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner
It’s clear to see why this toner is one of Glow Recipe’s most popular products. If you are looking for hydrated, pore-free skin, then this toner is definitely worth a try. In addition to being alcohol-free, it’s formulated with PHA and willow bark (a natural BHA that helps to unclog pores). It also contains hyaluronic acid and cactus water, meant to leave skin looking bouncy and radiant. I loved how glowy my skin looked immediately after application. Just gently press the product into your face and neck until fully absorbed and wait for the magic to happen.
Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops
Inspired by the glowy skin looks created by Korean makeup artists, the Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops is the result of the brand’s ability to bridge skincare and makeup. As many people found themselves working at home for most of 2020, niacinamide may have been one of the most searched-for beauty ingredients, and it is one of the most researched cosmetic ingredients for improving skin texture and pigmentation. These niacinamide–infused drops left my skin looking brighter while minimizing my pores at the same time. It also got rave reviews online, with customers attesting that it brightens skin with or without makeup. On a no-makeup day, apply 1–2 pumps as the last part of your skincare routine, and on makeup days, apply 1–2 pumps as a primer before putting on foundation.
Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum
This lightweight, silky serum is a must-have for your morning routine. I love how plump my skin looks as soon as I’ve applied it. It’s infused with a blend of vegan collagen and vegan silk proteins, which are meant to help strengthen the skin. As a longtime hyaluronic acid devotee, I can confirm that it does exactly what it says on the bottle. With five molecular weights of next-gen hyaluronic acid meant to fill each skin layer with hydration. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the before-and-after pictures on the Glow Recipe website. Before moisturizing, pat 1–2 pumps of the serum onto your face and neck until fully absorbed.
Watermelon Glow Sleep Mask
This is the product that introduced the world to the "inner glow." When this mask launched back in 2017, it sold out more than seven times on the brand’s website and Sephora, and it’s clear why the Glow gang love it so much. As someone with oily/combination skin, I had been under the impression that glowy skin was impossible without attracting too much attention to my T-zone, but thanks to the addition of hyaluronic acid, I’ve been proven wrong. With just one use of this mask, I noticed a wonderful change in my skin’s texture. Suitable for daily use, it can be used as a sleeping mask or by applying a thick layer onto cleansed skin and rinsing it off with lukewarm water after 10 minutes.
Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask
If your eye area isn’t as bright and firm as you’d like it to be, then this Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask will reignite their sparkle in no time. Just apply a pea-sized amount to the eye area and gently pat into the skin until absorbed. This mask can also be used as a daytime eye treatment (along with SPF that is safe for the area). It’s gentle enough to keep on throughout the night but promises to moisturize, brighten, and de-puff the eye area thanks to the anti-aging benefits of coffeeberry and niacinamide, according to the brand.
Avocado Ceramide Recovery Serum
This serum is perfect for all skin types. If redness is something you struggle with from time to time, then this lightweight, milky serum may be the remedy you are looking for. The serum is created with a blend of powerful plant-based ingredients such as avocado, butter, and rice milk. It aims to strengthen irritated skin. It’s also a favorite of co-founder Christine Chang, and judging by the reviews online, it’s clear to see why. The Glow gang adore it, and a few of them said that the serum evened out their skin tone after some time.
Watermelon Glow Hyaluronic Clay Pore-Tight Facial
As someone who has oily/combination skin, I’m sold on any clay-containing product because I know it does wonders at minimizing my pores and leaving my skin looking amazing. Nicknamed "facial in a jar," on the brand’s website, the scent is described as "fruity with a refreshing herbal tint" and I concur. In addition to the alluring scent, the mask is gentle on the skin, so if you want to bid your pores farewell while exfoliating your skin at the same time, this facial should definitely be a part of your skincare routine. You won’t regret it. Just apply a generous amount on cleansed skin, leave it on for five minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Watermelon Glow Pink Dream Body Cream
Like the Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, the Pink Dream Body Cream was also inspired by the Korean tradition of rubbing watermelon rind on the skin to try to soothe heat rash and irritation. This smooth cream promises to glide effortlessly onto the skin, leaving it with a gorgeous glow. In addition to main ingredients watermelon extract and watermelon seed butter, it also contains hibiscus AHA and hyaluronic acid. For best results, gently massage the cream into the body until it's absorbed. For added moisture, apply another layer onto rougher, more dehydrated areas of the skin.
Goyal A, Sharma A, Kaur J, et al. Bioactive-based cosmeceuticals: an update on emerging trends. Molecules. 2022;27(3):828. doi:10.3390/molecules27030828
Levin J, Momin SB. How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(2):22-41.