This Must-Have Toner Changed My Mind About This Skin-Care Step Entirely

Stephen J. Arias

It’s safe to say that toner has historically held a bad rep in the skincare industry. Many have opted it out of their routine entirely, but toner can actually be transformational when done in the right formula. I was once a skeptic of toner as someone with sensitive, acne-rosacea skin. The toners I tried in my early days of skincare left my face red and dry, sometimes even concerningly tingly. 

For those that may not be familiar, face toner is a skincare step that is typically meant to be applied after cleanser as a means to prepare your skin for the rest of your regimen, creating the optimum pH conditions for absorption. However, toners have become synonymous with having (overly) potent formulas that can likely contain ‘alcohol denat.’, or denatured alcohol. This works against the skin’s natural defenses and strips it aggressively. That leaves people like me with sensitive skin typically avoiding toners at all costs — until I came across Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tightening Toner.

This toner promised an ultra-gentle and hydrating formula, which is an unfamiliar territory in this category — but knowing that I’ve had pretty good luck with the brand’s products and my sensitive skin, I felt comfortable testing it out. The first detail I noticed was the packaging, as the bottle dispenses just enough so product doesn’t go to waste.

I applied it directly with my hands, patting it gently all over my skin to ensure the right consistency and even application. The toner has a unique feel, as it’s not liquid but not gel; it’s an in-between of comfortably sticky. (FYI: It’s not a sticky that will make your skin feel tacky or heavy, but one that will make you feel like whatever comes next in your routine will mesh well.)

Before using the Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner

Right away, I was fond of the scent of the toner, which was not too overwhelming. If you’re not a fan of fragrance at all, the scent doesn’t linger for too long. It’s more of an application sensorial experience. The results? Immediately I saw that my skin was plumper; it reminded me of the TikTok trend of people putting their faces in ice water every morning. It achieved that effect minus the uncomfortable freezing water.

Seeing hydroxy acids (PHA and BHA) in the name of the product can trigger alarms in your brain that this can potentially be a harsh formula, but that wasn’t the case in my experience. As I mentioned, I have sensitive skin that deals with lots of redness due to rosacea and is prone to acne. The product was gentle enough that I felt comfortable using it twice a day — day and night — even before my topical prescription every night. I felt it set the tone for the rest of my routine and made a difference in how plump my skin looked, especially the more I used it. 

After using the Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner

In days, my skin looked more glowy and hydrated. In my before photo, you can see that my skin had a dull finish, but the after photos have more glow and plumpness. In nearly two weeks, I also saw a difference in my post-acne marks (guilty of pimple popping!) thanks to its exfoliating ingredients. 

It’s safe to say that the Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tightening Toner will remain a part of my regimen, and for me, it’s given toner an entirely new branding — and my routine the main-character energy it deserves. 

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