Glow Recipe founders Christine Chang and Sarah Lee sit together and discuss 2022's biggest skincare ...

The Glow Recipe Founders Believe This Trendy Skin Care Ingredient Is Here To Stay

Christine Chang and Sarah Lee also have a theory about why their products go viral on TikTok.

Originally Published: 
Courtesy of Glow Recipe
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Trends emerge, fade, and return with a vengeance faster than most people can keep track of. But when they do, one thing's for sure: Everyone's got an opinion. In Elite Daily's Style series IMHO, we'll serve you the details, along with some not-so-humble opinions, on the viral style trends lighting up the internet. Below, Glow Recipe founders Christine Chang and Sarah Lee share their hot takes on the biggest skin care trends of 2022.

Christine Chang and Sarah Lee have perfect skin on purpose. They come by it honestly with multi-step skin care routines and a diligence passed down to them by their mothers and grandmothers. And while Glow Recipe, the fruit-forward brand they launched in 2017, could be called trendy, Chang and Lee aren’t convinced by all of 2022’s skin care trends. Both women believe in efficacy: they stick to the science of skin and ingredients, and aren’t swept up by eye-catching trends or TikTok videos. Even so, a number of their products have gone viral, a fact that they’re both proud of and humbled by since it suggests there’s a coming change in the skin care landscape.

Their brand isn’t built on a promise of fast results or marketing gimmicks. Glow Recipe is all about gentle and effective skin care which isn’t exactly the kind of milkshake that brings all the bloggers to the yard, if you know what I mean. And yet, they’ve developed a cult following. TikTok’s biggest beauty influencer, Mikayla Nogueira, launched a kit with the company in early 2022; skin care enthusiasts are obsessed with Glow Recipe; the brand’s products sell out constantly; also, they just plain work well, even on sensitive skin.

Ahead, Chang and Lee drop the skin care routines that keep them looking glowing and poreless, the fruit-based rituals their grandmothers taught them, and how to appreciate skin care from other cultures without appropriating.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Elite Daily: I would love to hear about any beauty or skin care rituals that each of you grew up with and how they've informed your skin care routines as adults?

Christine Chang: This is something that both Sarah and I experienced early on in our childhoods. Our grandmothers used to chop up watermelon rinds and rub them on our skin. This was actually a big inspiration for the watermelon mask because it was used as nature's ice cube: the rind would chill and help to calm and soothe the skin. Heat rash would be gone the next day. It was this miraculous at-home treatment that we both grew up with and we wanted to harness those very soothing benefits for the Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask ($45, Sephora) when we launched it in 2017.

ED: I love that.

Sarah Lee: I grew up with double cleansing from a young age. I remember when I came home from school, my mom would always encourage me to wash my face before I did anything else because the goal was to stay bare-faced for longer than I had sunscreen or makeup on. Since sunscreen and makeup are oil-based, it was really important to double cleanse. The first step, which is oil-based cleanser, removes oil, and then the second step, a water-based foam cleanser, helps to deeply cleanse and remove all of the debris.

ED: You’ve shared your priorities. You’ve shared a little inspo. Now can each of you drop your current skin care routine?

SL: I prefer to keep my morning routines pretty simple and short. I always cleanse with a water-based cleanser in the morning and right now I'm using the Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser ($34, Sephora). Then I use a toner, our Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner ($34, Sephora), which helps to clarify the pores. I have pore concerns, so this is a really important step for me. Next, I go straight to our best-selling product, our Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops ($34, Sephora), which is a serum that helps to brighten the skin, but also gives an instant glow. I actually can't live a day without it.

Sometimes in the morning, I go straight to our SPF, Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen SPF 50 ($34, Sephora), and skip moisturizer because the Dew Drops and our toner have emollients and are very moisturizing. It's actually a very simple, four-step routine that I go for every morning, especially when I'm busy.

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At night, it’s a little more detailed because I want to make sure that my SPF and makeup are completely removed. Like I said earlier, double cleansing has always been really important, so I start with the Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm & Makeup Remover ($32, Sephora) and then continue with the Blueberry Bounce. Then I would use toner to clarify my pores and hydrate the skin. [The next step] depends on how my skin feels. If I feel like my skin needs to be brighter and it's feeling a little dull, I grab our Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Treatment Serum ($34, Sephora), which is really effective in removing and fading dark spots. Or I grab the Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum($42, Sephora), which has been really amazing to intensely hydrate the skin. Then, recently, I've been loving our Plum Plump Hyaluronic Moisturizer ($34, Sephora). So that's my simple routine. Then, when I feel I need to reset the skin, I use the Watermelon Glow Hyaluronic Clay Pore-Tight Facial Mask ($40, Sephora) two or three times a week.

CC: My routine is very similar. In the morning, I often skip cleansing, but when I do cleanse I use the Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser. The toner is a stand-in for my cleanser many days and I like to do this with a cotton pad. Then I move straight to moisturizer and then SPF.

At nighttime, it's also pretty simple. I always do a cleanse with the Blueberry Bounce, then the Papaya Cleansing Balm whenever I'm wearing a little bit more sunscreen or makeup, and then the toner is really incredible to use day and night. It has all these essential nutrients to help balance and hydrate the skin. Then it's a double serum combo. So it could be the Guava and Plum Serum, which is my go-to, but every day is different, and I finish off with the Plum Pump Moisturizer.

ED: I'm a big Glow Recipe fan, and I have watched y'all keep your pulse on skin care trends for years, so what do you think the future of skin care is going to look like?

SL: I think we're already starting to see a lot of the formulations that focus on keeping the approach gentle. What this means is, traditionally, a lot of the skin care formulas, especially in the U.S., were focused on instant gratification and fast results. A lot of us are busy and we're practical and we're very result-oriented, but I think a lot of people are realizing that skin care is something that you do have to be diligent about. You have to put in effort, just like working out, and approach it daily, morning and night, with the right ingredients and the right formulations.

For example, we've really been passionate about encapsulating. The retinol that's used in our Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Cream ($42, Sephora) is encapsulated, meaning it actually is more gradual when it penetrates into the skin, but because it's encapsulated, it actually works as effectively as a free form retinol overnight. That way you're not getting any of these side effects that you would've seen with the free form ingredient. And then we also believe in making sure that each formula has hydrating and soothing ingredients in the same blend. Some of us have very sensitized skin, especially after [lockdown]. So I think more of the gentle approach to the skin is going to be very, very big in skin care.

ED: I hope so.

CC: I think one trend I would quickly add to that is just the blurring of lines between categories. We've seen incredible success with this when it comes to products like our Dew Drops, which went viral on TikTok last year. And the genesis of this product was very much inspired by Korean makeup artists who are using ingredients like cream and oil to create a dewy skin look. But we wanted to challenge ourselves to create a formula that could achieve that, but still deliver real skin benefits with only skin-beneficial ingredients, free of mica or glitter or artificial pearls. And I think one of the reasons it was able to go viral on a platform like TikTok is because of the duality of the product where it not only is giving great results instantly, but also over time.

Elite Daily: Let’s get into trends. What do you think about LED light device therapy?

CC: We're not like deeply familiar with it. Obviously, we've used it and tested various tools and devices, and it's not something that we're interested deeply invested in at the moment.

ED: What do you think about cleansing bars versus cleansing balms?

SL: I think it really depends on the ingredients because I think a lot of brands and companies are coming out with really creative formats [like a] cleansing bar that has ingredients or formulations that really effectively help to cleanse the skin. I'm really excited to see if the future of cleansers is a hybrid or combination of oil and water-based cleansers all-in-one so that you're actually able to effectively remove makeup while keeping the skin really clean and fresh and hydrated.

If a new cleansing bar has those properties, I’d think that's really innovative and different. Currently, I am using a cleansing balm daily because it is oil-based and it is a buttery, beautiful, sensorial texture. I personally love using a balm from a sensorial, experiential standpoint, in addition to the benefits of removing my makeup and moisturizing the skin.

ED: I already know you’re both fans of double cleansing.

CC: Yes. We're both very big fans. You take multiple steps and layers to put on your makeup and your sunscreen in the morning, so it makes sense that it would take multiple steps to also remove it thoroughly. Being able to thoroughly remove all vestiges of makeup from your face and starting off with a clean canvas is incredibly important.

ED: What do you think about slugging?

SL: Slugging is such a trend right now and you can see it a lot on TikTok, especially. It's something that we have tried, but I think that there's been mixed feedback about slugging. I think it really depends on your skin and what you're looking for in terms of results. I don't think it's for everybody; I think it's a trend and I'm not sure if it's something that will last for a long time.

ED: How about lip masks?

CC: Lip masks are something that a lot of customers know and love and use, but ultimately it depends on how it's formulated. The line between what constitutes a lip mask versus just a lip balm can get quite blurry. But all in all, I think caring for the lips is incredibly important because the lip area doesn't have a lot of sebum production and the skin there is very thin so replenishing those nutrients is key.

ED: What are your thoughts on niacinamide as a trendy skin care ingredient?

SL: So niacinamide is one of my favorite skin care ingredients, and it's something that we at Glow Recipe believe is here to stay for the long run. It is a powerhouse ingredient that's clinically proven to brighten the skin, treat hyperpigmentation, clarify pores, and it really helps with texture transformation over time.

It actually addresses a lot of skin care concerns that a lot of us share, and we actually were able to leverage the power of niacinamide in our Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops, which is our best-selling serum. And people love using this product because of what it does to the skin over time. We're seeing a lot of reviews and customer emails where they're seeing an improvement of their hyperpigmentation so we believe that this is something that will be used more in skin care. It’s not just a trend.

ED: Let’s talk about skin barrier protection.

CC: I think the skin barrier is everything when it comes to skin care. It was very often a term, just a few years ago, that was really overlooked because it wasn’t flashy, but I think with the advent of all this education that we're seeing on social media, there's been a lot of new attention given to the importance of the skin barrier. If your skin barrier is compromised, that can also impact a lot of other skin conditions from sensitivity to irritations, redness, and breakouts.

Fortifying the skin barrier has also become a very big topic. It goes back to what Sarah mentioned earlier about just being gentle with the skin which is another lesson. In order to get great results, people very often go straight to the strongest, most potent concentration of [an ingredient] without really thinking about what's right for their skin and without realizing that could potentially compromise the skin barrier if it's not a fit for them.

ED: Have you tried ice rolling?

SL: We've tried ice rolling and we think it's a really fun tool that actually helps to calm skin. There's science [to support] that if the skin's temperature is lower, it helps to soothe skin, but we think that it's a tool to help enhance the experience of skin care routines. We don't think it actually has a powerful or dramatic effect on skin, but it also helps to help with depuffing.

Elite Daily: Where do y'all fall on the chemical versus mineral sunscreen debate? I feel like every year there's a different winner for people.

CC: It's definitely one of our favorite topics because sun protection is so important in any skin care routine. Both have pros and cons, right? With chemical [SPF], you get more sheer application and it’s easier to spread. There's a lot of conversation around how mineral sunscreens can be more gentle on the skin and can be more appropriate for acne-prone skin. At the end of the day, the best SPF is the one you're going to use every day in the right amount, so finding something that you enjoy is the most critical.

ED: How about gua sha?

SL: Gua sha is a routine that's been a tradition in Asia for centuries. It's known to be really effective for depuffing the skin, but also helping with blood circulation. We actually love a brand that has gua sha tools called Mount Lai. They're really an amazing brand that helps with the education in terms of how to use the Gua Sha Facial Lifting Tool ($28, Sephora) and the origin of the tools. Their products are really, really amazing. We highly recommend them.

ED: Do you have any tips or advice for people who are interested in beauty rituals from other cultures?

CC: I think it's important to look into the brands that you're buying from and understand the team that created the brand, their educational content, how they're referencing it and paying homage to the traditions that have sparked a lot of these innovations, and making decisions accordingly. I think it's just being an informed consumer.

ED: Any other trends that our readers should look out for?

SL: Absolutely. I think that we really want to speak more about the power of double seruming We're still a young brand, but we have already five different serums that target all skin concerns and know that everybody has more than one skin concern at a time. The rule of thumb is going from light to thick in terms of texture and applying them together in one single routine so that you're getting more than two benefits within the same routine. At Glow Recipe, we've tested all of our treatments to work in synergy together and the textures are very lightweight, so even if you have two layers, you don't feel like you have too much on your skin, and at the same time, you're targeting multiple concerns.

ED: Excellent. I’m going to double serum tonight.

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