Before they were the cult-favorite brand that is Glow Recipe, this skincare label began as a pitch on Shark Tank. Inspired by K-Beauty, co-founders Christine Chang and Sarah Lee started Glow Recipe after their 20 combined years of working at L’Oreal. They began with two products: the Blueberry Bounce Cleanser and Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask. The latter quickly became a cult-favourite, and if you aren’t familiar with the brand you might just recognise the impressionable pink packaging behind their signature product.
Now, the brand boasts a following of over 800 thousand followers on Instagram and has evolved into a collection of natural, cruelty-free products that focus on fruit-derived ingredients. They are also free of parabens, mineral oil, sulfates, silicones and synthetic dyes, made without animal by-products and Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free. And while the founders believe that sensoriality is an important aspect in skincare, the use of fragrance in the products is kept to a minimum – no more than 0.5 per cent of synthetic fragrance, though the brand prefers to use naturally derived fragrances or fragrances created from the edible ingredients, where possible.
We speak with Glow Recipe founders, Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, to find out more about the brand and what you should look out for now that it’s here in Singapore.
What inspired the decision to start Glow Recipe, and how did it go from a website to a skincare line?
Christine Chang: My co-founder Sarah and I were having a self-care session over sheet masks and wine one night and realised that we were the only bi-cultural, bilingual executives in our positions at L’Oreal. As global marketers and having travelled to Korea multiple times annually, we were always astounded by the amazing innovations in Korean beauty, but found that many Korean companies lacked the expertise to take their domestic success global. When we first sought out to build Glow Recipe as a hub for Korean beauty brands, we saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between Korean brands and the US consumer.
In 2017, we launched our in-house line, Glow Recipe Skin Care, fruit-forward, clean, skintertaining line of formulations paired with our Korean-beauty-inspired approach. We introduced the cult favourite Watermelon Sleeping Mask and the Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser as two hybrid products that help condense skincare routines without the compromise of efficacy.
The Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask is such an iconic product for the brand now, how did the idea come about?
Sarah Lee: The Watermelon Sleeping Mask is very special to us. Growing up in Korea, we were always observing our mothers and grandmothers perform their beauty rituals. It was a common practice for our grandmothers to rub cold watermelon rinds on our backs during the hot summer months. The watermelon rind would instantly soothe our heat rash so this became the inspiration behind the product. We wanted the world to see how a familiar fruit could also have amazing skin benefits.
Korea [has always been] the hub for new innovation, beauty treatments and more, so we wanted to provide the post-facial result in a bottle. When we launched the Watermelon Sleeping Mask, it was the first overnight hybrid treatment that combined gentle AHA exfoliation with hydrating watermelon extract into one product. Even down to the packaging, we were reminded of the cooling effect that watermelon would have on our heat rashes in our youth, so [we even made] the glass bottle [look like] a melting ice cube.
How much of Glow Recipe products are influenced by what’s happening in K-beauty or by your personal beauty-related experiences growing up in Korea?
Christine: Korea is a constant source of inspiration for us and we love being able to share innovative ingredients, technologies and textures with our beauty community, [along with] our personal [experiences] growing up in Korea.
Korea was where we first saw amazing hybrid products and treatments that have inspired our formulations. When we travel back to Korea for work, we would always get an Aqua Peel Facial, which is a popular treatment at dermatology clinics in Korea where the skin is treated with a device that unclogs pores, refines skin’s texture and infuses it with hydration at the same time. Our spin on this transformative facial was our Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner, which harnessed a balance of pore-refining actives, like PHA and BHA, with hydrating hyaluronic acid.
Korea is also where skincare-makeup hybrids truly started emerging years ago, with serum-primers that had “makeup-gripping” textures. Our interpretation on this concept is our Watermelon Glow Lip Pop, a three-in-one scrub, balm and tint.
For Glow Recipe newbies, what 3 products would you recommend to start with?
Christine: It’s so difficult to pick only three, but if we had to, we would definitely want someone to try:
• Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, $69 – Our customers love that it packs hydrating and gentle exfoliating benefits into one treatment for a post-facial result, as well as the sensorial, gel texture that makes application fun and enjoyable.
• Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask, $64 – Another core product we love that introduced a powerful ingredient like retinol, in an approachable, gentle way with the encapsulated form. It has become one of our top products due to the amazing reviews and feedback on how it has helped customers treat their milia while brightening and firming the eye area.
• Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner, $52 – Inspired by the K-beauty aqua peel facial, we created a product that equally refines pores while hydrating the skin so that customers could enjoy multiple skin benefits from the start of the routine as the first liquid treatment, instead of toners as an astringent cleansing step.
Besides the 7-skin method, what other personal beauty routines are a must for you?
Christine The main Korean skincare tip we can give is to always pat your skincare in to aid absorption. It goes back to the skincare philosophy of Korean women being as gentle as possible. Fast movements cause friction and over time, it can cause micro-tears in your skin. Tugging and pulling at the skin can contribute to wrinkles, so we always advocate patting in skincare in all of our content. We support patting in toners, serums and moisturisers all the way as it also minimises downtime between the steps to avoid waiting for the product to dry. Patting helps drive the product deeper into the skin’s layers and skin is plumped with hydration from within.
Another beauty hack is to ditch the towel after cleansing. Typically after cleansing, you would reach for a towel automatically, but that can cause rubbing and friction on your skin. It’s also impossibly hard to keep your towel clean in the bathroom, so instead of using a towel or constantly changing it out, just pat the moisture in after cleansing! It’s super easy and skin is plumped and slightly damp to absorb the next steps of your skincare.
In general, treat your skincare routine as a true moment of daily self-care. Your beauty routine shouldn’t be a chore but an enjoyable time for you to listen to your skin and give it what it needs.
Glow Recipe is now available on Sephora’s online store and physical stores starting 20 August 2020. There will be a range of 10 products available to start, but in case you don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a list to round it all up for you.