I’ll admit, I may have gone a little bit overboard when Glossier had its Cyber Monday sale in November. Glossier (famously) never discounts its products, so it was a now-or-never moment for me to try the millennial beauty brand I’ve heard about for years.
I’m a sucker for a deal and I’m not great with self control, so $212 and 10 days later, my vanity was overrun with small pink pouches and a new makeup and skincare regimen. I was ready to look Instagrammable with my new “no-makeup-makeup” and extra-dewy skin.
I am, on many levels, am a perfect target for Glossier: I’m a fan of great skin and I subscribe to the “makeup is meant to enhance what you have” school of thought. I would frustrate an entire family of Kardashians on a trip to Sephora. On a typical day, I wear the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20, Laura Mercier Secret Concealer, Clinique High Impact Mascara, a little bit of the now-discontinued Bite Beauty Multistick on my cheeks, and a swipe of lip balm. Considering my favorite beauty product was discontinued, it was time to try out some new stuff, but I wanted to keep the overall look and application low maintenance. I use my fingers as applicators and I’m not a fan of fancy primers or application techniques that take more than 10 minutes.
What did I order?
After my $200+ mail-order bender, what arrived were a skin cleanser, two face masks, a daytime serum, a concealer, a foundation, a highlighter, two blushes, two lipsticks, a liquid eye color, a mascara, and a brow gel—more makeup than I wear on a typical day but part of Glossier’s appeal is the ease of its products, so I was ready to up my game. Some products produced rapturous results, some were just meh, and others fell flat. Here, I rank them best to worst.
1. Milky Jelly Cleanser
What it claims: This is a non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores) and soothing daily cleanser that’s “gentle-yet-effective” and works for all skin types. This cleanser purports to break down makeup, without the need to pre-cleanse with balms or oils, and whisk away dirt and pollutants in one step. It contains moisturizing ingredients like rose water, comfrey root extract, and vitamin B5, so it won’t leave your skin irritated or feeling tight. Also, it’s made with the same gentle cleansing agents found in contact lens solution, making it safe for removing eye makeup and cleansing the delicate eye area without irritation.
What it’s like to use it: Pardon me while I swoon—this cleanser is a revelation. I’ve been using the Cetaphil Gentle Daily Cleanser for the past decade, but have only felt lukewarm about its results. I’ve mostly stuck with it because other cleansers, at varying price points, never proved themselves worthy of any long-term devotion. I’ve never had a Mr. Right cleanser, so I’ve settled for Mr. Right Now. If a product requires loads of follow-up products to remedy the side effects of either deep cleaning (think: dry, parched skin) or intense hydration (like a slick, oily feel), it’s not worth my time. In Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser, I’ve finally found my Mr. Right. It keeps all of it’s promises and has made me a better person (or, it’s at least made my skin better).
I live in Los Angeles, the land of smog and freeway exhaust. As in any urban center, pollutants and microscopic air particulates can get into your pores and they take a toll. A good nighttime cleanser is essential for combating blackheads and for keeping pores pristine. While I don’t tend to wear a lot of heavy makeup, I rely on my cleanser to purge pollutants from my pores and remove sunblock, tinted moisturizer, and a few coats of mascara at a minimum. As with so many things Glossier, usage is buildable. With this jelly, a little goes a long way, so you can start with one pump and apply more as you need it. This has a light rose scent and it rinses away squeaky clean, leaving no oily residue, just a dewy softness.
After a month and a half of regular use, I noticed a marked improvement in my skin that no other skincare system, let alone an individual cleanser, can deliver. I attribute my smaller-looking pores and zero blackheads to this product. This gets my die-hard devotion.
2. Lash Slick
What it claims: This mascara claims to curl, sculpt, and lengthen eyelashes to create an extension-like effect without clumping.
What it’s like to use it: I’m a mascara junkie, and I’m here to say that Lash Slick is going down in the books as one of my all-time favorites. This will have your lashes skimming your brows, thanks to the length it adds. The more coats you layer on, the more dramatic the results. The brush doesn’t look like much and inspired some healthy skepticism at first glance, but it soon proved its genius in its simplicity by delivering zero-clump distribution. This mascara formula goes the distance, too. It has all-day, water-resistant wear with no smudges or flakes.
3. Cloud Paint
What it claims: These are easy-to-use, sheer-but-buildable liquid blushes that claim not to accentuate texture or pores. There are eight shades ranging from a light pink to a bright coral to a deep berry.
What it’s like to use it: Believe the hype. There is a reason Cloud Paint is a marquee Glossier product and has earned the praise of makeup lovers. I’ve always been a fan of a flushed look for daytime and—particularly with my new devotion to Bridgerton and all things Regencycore—I am not ashamed to say that I’ve developed a weakness for a bold cheek. Cloud Paint is so versatile that it works whether you want to sport a healthy glow, a swooning rosiness, or any degree of blushing in between, depending on the amount you apply. I got Cloud Paint in the shades “Dawn” and “Storm.” Storm lets you emulate a Daphne Bridgerton flush with its deep berry hue, while Dawn’s summery, burnished-orange color is just the shade to throw on with a pair of rollerskates and bronzer for some 1970s Venice Beach vibes. The pocket- or clutch-sized tube makes this easy to throw in your bag for quick touch-ups to ensure your look lasts all day.
While the tube may seem small, a little goes a (shockingly) long way, which is also one of the most common complaints you’ll read from unsuspecting customers. At first use, I put a pearl-sized dollop on my fingertip, which is enough for a week of wear. Take heed and start with a minuscule amount.
4. Stretch Concealer
What it claims: This concealer is meant to be “undetectable” with flexible coverage, and it comes in 12 shades. Depending on your preference, you can build it up to hide everything from dark circles to blemishes and redness, and leave the skin with a dewy (rather than matte) finish.
What it’s like to use it: When a concealer hides one flaw (say, under-eye circles), it often accentuates another (fine lines or wrinkles), especially if you have dry or mature skin. Stretch Concealer manages to cover without creasing—instead it seems to “stretch” and provide a veil over my flaws. My previous go-to was Laura Mercier’s Secret Concealer, which I loved, but I was looking for something that could wear longer and work just as well on my under-eyes as it does on blemishes This concealer is able to do all of the above. The creamy formula is buildable, so you can get the precise level of coverage you want depending on what needs concealing. It also claims to diffuse light, which I find true, as it appears to create a softness while it blurs imperfections. More important: It lasts for hours and it doesn’t accentuate fine lines in my, ahem, maturing eye area.
5. Generation G
What it claims: These “dialed-down” lipsticks are available in six shades, each of which gives a “just blotted” look. These are sheer enough to let your natural lip color show through, giving “a casual look that appears a little different on everyone.”
What it’s like to use it: Like many Glossier products, Generation G this has a faint rose smell and allows for buildable color. I got the shades “Like” and “Leo,” a rosy berry-like shade and a perfect 90s brown, respectively. I don’t like to wear an intense lip unless I go all the way with liner and a brush, so this is an easy, daywear sort of lipstick option for me. This gets major points for being exactly what it says—both sheer and matte. It has a smooth and velvety feel going on but as it sits on the lips, it’s neither moisturizing or drying. I feel like I need to wear a lip balm with it, which ends up giving a hit to its wear-time. That said, the colors seem to look good on anyone, they are fun to wear, and both of the shades I tried had me wondering, “Why do my lips look great today?” When I applied “Like” and FaceTimed with my mom, she didn’t realize I was wearing anything on my lips but commented on them looking fuller. To me, that’s a glowing endorsement, so this product is a winner.
What it claims: This is a “creamy, dreamy, works-on-all-skin-types mask.” It contains sweet almond oil, plant-based squalane (a moisturizing ingredient), and hyaluronic acid to boost the skin’s hydration and smooth the appearance of fine lines.What it’s like to use it: Yes, this is creamy! Yes, this is absolutely dreamy! Yes, it does sound like Stevie Nicks named Moisturizing Moon Mask and, in spite of myself, I kept humming the tune to “Gypsy” as I applied it. This mask feels like you’re rubbing a luxurious pudding on your skin (that may sound weird, but it’s actually awesome). It says to apply a thick layer, but my skin wasn’t feeling very dry when I used it (wait until summer in Los Angeles; that’s when I’ll need it) so I applied a medium-thick amount instead and I got amazing results even with a lesser amount.
After waiting 20 minutes, most of the mask seemed to have melted into my skin and disappeared. What remained almost felt like oil. It’s not unpleasant and it feels heavenly to massage it into the skin and leave it on for a few extra minutes while it works its moisturizing magic. My only complaint, which is hardly one at all, is that I don’t understand why the instructions say to wear this for 20 minutes. For me, it worked much better as an overnight mask and many reviewers report using it that way. And I wouldn’t think leaving it on while you sleep would result in any ill effects because this mask is moisturizing and doesn’t claim to exfoliate, “clarify” or do anything else that may indicate stripping the skin. Still, I love this mask. It goes on feeling decadent and that feeling doesn’t dissipate even after you rinse it off. Using this feels like you’re doing something luxurious to your skin and I can’t wait to put it to good use during the dry season in Los Angeles.
7. Boy Brow
What it claims: Inspired by traditional hair pomade, this is a “brushable, creamy wax” that claims to thicken, shape, and groom brows into place. It gives the hairs a soft, flexible hold in one easy swipe, and doesn’t stiffen or flake. You can snag this in five different tints, from clear to black.
What it’s like to use it: Boy Brow has been the stuff of legends and was one of the main reasons I was drawn to the Glossier sale in the first place. I have naturally thick brows that are pretty full but have a few areas that have started to thin over time. I remedy this with strategic brushing, so having a good brow gel to control the hairs and keep them in place is essential. For the most part, a little bit of wax or gel can keep everything in place, but I enjoy adding a bit of drama to my brows, so Boy Brow, which you can buy in a tinted formula, seemed like the best of everything I was hoping for.
This product wasn’t a disappointment, per se, but I don’t think it’s meant for the level of bushy-ness my brows lean toward. If you have brows of average thickness or even ones that are a bit sparse, I have no doubt this product will be everything it promises and you’ll join the Boy Brow cult. For me, though, the hold just couldn’t keep my painstakingly positioned brows in place and the nice brush and solid tint weren’t enough to make up for that. I won’t say I dislike this product, but for $16, I’m on the fence about whether I’ll buy it again or if I’ll go back to my pencil-filler and using a bit of hair gel on a toothbrush.
What it claims: This serum claims to give you a “gleamy, well-moisturized look that lasts up to 12 hours.”
What it’s like to use it: This doesn’t live up to its claims. After a month using Futuredew, I’m still unsure who or what it’s for. It claims to be a daytime serum and highlighter in one, but it doesn’t deliver any effective results or remedies for the most common reasons you might need a daytime serum: pollution, sun damage, wrinkles. It also doesn’t smooth skin before applying makeup, as a primer would, and the shimmer is, well, low-voltage. While the dewiness it promises looked OK for the first few seconds, it wasn’t intense enough to give bare skin enough of a lift for a no-makeup day, and it wasn’t powerful enough to show up under even light makeup. I think this could look great on a bare-faced Elle Fanning: someone with very pale, poreless, and very young skin, but saying a product only looks good on one type of person isn’t a great endorsement for something that’s supposed to suit everyone.
What it claims: The only other Glossier mask option claims to deeply cleanse and “detoxify” the skin to help manage excess oil. Made with white kaolin clay, it says it will minimize the appearance of pores. You should experience a velvety, matte finish and your skin should look and feel clean. It also claims to draw out excess oil and impurities and says it’s well-suited to combination or oily skin.
What it’s like to use it: Think of this as a less drying (and less intense) alternative to the mega-popular Aztec Clay Mask. As far as clarifying masks go, the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack stands apart from others in that it never feels tight or drying on the skin. Dipping my fingers into the pot, this feels creamy and velvety going on and when washed off, it leaves my skin feeling matte and but looking healthy and glowy. Usually, clay-based masks make my combination skin (dry cheeks and oily T-zone) feel super-tight and dry, but this mask includes avocado oil and aloe to balance out the work the white clay does to “purify” the pores.
Paired with the Milky Jelly Cleanser, my pores are smaller and less congested, but because I did a bit of a skincare overhaul all at once, it’s hard to know if this is why I’ve seen such an improvement in my skin’s appearance. Still, if you find other clarifying masks too intense or drying, this one’s texture and results stand apart from others and may do the trick for you. The biggest issue I have with this mask is, when washed off after 20 minutes (per instructions), it leaves my skin noticeably red. The redness I experienced was minimal and not painful, but I don’t tend to experience any sensitivities with skincare. For me to experience any irritation at all should be a word of caution for anyone with even somewhat sensitive skin.
What it claims: This is a “crystal-infused highlighter” with a coconut, castor, and sweet almond oil-infused center that gives a hydrating glow that lasts all day. It comes in three shades: icy white, pink quartz, and topaz bronze.
What it’s like to use it: Many of Glossier’s products are sheer enough to work for more than just one skin tone, but, in spite of my medium-neutral tone, the Topaz shade of Haloscope shade broke from that norm. This color did not work for me and neither did the application, for that matter. This cream highlighter pulled at my skin and left a dirty-looking streak across my cheekbones and forehead. Mercifully, this didn’t have the “all-day” staying power it promised. During the few hours it did last, I just felt sticky. I tried different techniques of patting it in and rubbing it in, but I never got the desired effect. I purchased this because I wanted a sunkissed, shimmery glow, but what I got was a sticky, sweaty, slightly dirty-looking stripe that sat on top of my skin and made my pores scream, “Check me out!”
What it claims: Available in seven shades, these are liquid-to-powder eyeshadows that boast “silky, blendable colors that melt into skin” to create a pretty, diffused effect that lasts on the eyes.
What it’s like to use it: This is one of Glossier’s top-rated products, but I don’t understand the praise. If my experience with one is indicative of how they all work, these lid colors seem to have so many faults. I got my Skywash in the shade “Pebble”, which is described as a “neutral taupe,” but it appeared more cool-toned on my skin. I did not experience “silky, blendable colors that melt into the skin.” Instead, I experienced a product that was a goopy and watery mess, dried too fast to blend well, and ended up looking patchy almost instantly. It’s also difficult to get the amount of color you want with the doe-foot applicator. I felt a lot of frustration for very little pigmentation. For all of the rapturous reviews, I wonder if trying a bolder shade, like “Cocoa” or “Lawn” could change my mind. That said, the experience wasn’t enough to convince me to take the leap to test that possibility.
12. Perfecting Skin Tint
What it claims: The closest you’ll find to a foundation from Glossier, this claims to have a “breathable, ultra-thin formula that evens out skin’s appearance for a smooth, dewy finish.”
What it’s like to use it: Unless you happen to want a watery-yet-drying foundation layer that doesn’t do a thing to even out your skin tone, stay clear of the Perfecting Skin Tint. I felt like I was the perfect match for this product, but I was wrong. I don’t wear foundation and veer more toward tinted moisturizers and CC creams to even out my skin tone. Every time I try foundations, I feel like I look too done up, but I want the option to wear a long-lasting base with a full face of makeup when the mood strikes. This product is not the answer. The coverage is less than a tinted moisturizer or CC cream and it is more drying than any foundation I’ve used. I tried layering it and even then the coverage was laughable. I don’t really have wrinkles, but it sure looked like I did with this foundation—it managed to freeze every movement my face made and fall into every crease. When paired with Future Dew, it performed a bit better in terms of a smoother application, but not enough for me to do anything more with the bottle than find a friend to pawn it off on.
Should you buy from Glossier?
Yes! Absolutely. Sure I had some hits and some misses, but overall I’m impressed and I understand this brand’s cult-like following. The only product I tried that I can’t justify at all is the Perfecting Skin Tint, but I have an open mind about some of the other products I was less-than-enthusiastic about. And it seems worth the risk to take the leap on products you’re interested in, considering Glossier’s excellent customer service and generous 30-day return policy for anything you aren’t satisfied with. The products I do like, I like beyond reproach. I don’t see myself replacing my top three (Milky Jelly Cleanser, Lash Slick, and Cloud Paint) anytime soon and I feel like Glossier is bringing a relaxed and innovative approach to skincare and makeup. Right now, as we are all stuck at home, I say take the leap, snap some selfies and have a little fun letting the real you show through under your makeup.
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