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The first time I ever used a toner was in middle school, around the time my mother express-ordered a three-step system from Proactiv to fight my pubescent acne. While I haven't used the purifying formula in years, it did teach me one important thing about my routine: even on the most basic level, my routine required a toner. Eventually, I got older and my acne cleared up (sort of), but I haven't stopped using a toner, ever. My latest go-to: the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner.
Sometimes I yearn for the teenage years, when all I worried about, in regard to my skin, was acne. Now, I have a long list of concerns on my mind, like preventing wrinkles, maintaining moisture, brightening old acne scars and marks . . . you get the picture. Luckily, the Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner covers it all.
When Glow Recipe cofounders Sarah Lee and Christine Chang set out to create the brand's first toner, they knew it had to rise above the bad rap toners tend to get. Either they're traditionally too drying — formulated with a concentration of alcohol so high it could clean out an open wound — or it's so viscous that it feels like rubbing maple syrup on your face. So, Lee and Chang looked to Korean beauty aqua peels for inspiration, which are known for injecting hydration into the skin while cleaning out the pores. Their toner would do the same — and it does.
While most toners out there either exfoliate or hydrate, this one does both. Not only does it utilize watermelon extract and cactus water to keep skin quenched and intensely hydrated with amino acids and electrolytes but it uses a heavy dose of hyaluronic acid, too. Now, this is key and exactly why you should be using toner after you cleanse and before you apply your serums, oils, lotions, etc.: the hyaluronic acid will help whatever other ingredients you use on the skin penetrate deeper and work harder. In other words, visible results at a more satisfactory rate. When used in tandem with the Watermelon Glow Toner's acids, you can expect smoother, softer, and plumper skin within your first time using it.
Speaking of acids, Lee and Chang spiked this toner with the best. While the polyhydroxy acids smooth and resurface skin from buildup of dead skin cells (gross, but we all have 'em), the oil-soluble BHAs bust through to decongest your pores and remove blackheads in the process. The concentration of both adds up to a 6 percent concentration in total, which doesn't sound like a lot but is the sweet spot for active ingredients that aren't looking to irritate or inflame the skin.