The All Access Pass to Glossier: Does It Live Up To Its Hype

Millennial pink, dewy skin, and the oh-so-coveted “boy brow.” Sound familiar? These are just a few of the Glossier trademarks, the cult-favorite beauty startup that has managed to accumulate over one million followers on Instagram. Since 2014, they have been continuously promoting what Emily Weiss, founder of Glossier says is “a beauty movement that celebrates real girls, in real life,” and their products hold true to that message. Their entire makeup and skincare range revolves around enhancing natural beauty rather than hiding it, and their boxes are often decorated with phrases such as “Skin first, makeup second” and “You look good.”

 

However, despite their shining popularity among teens and adults alike, Glossier has repeatedly received criticism due to the fact that most of their line only caters to those without many skin concerns, and many believe that the models they select for their campaigns are already “perfect” (to be fair, their recent Body Hero campaign did feature a diverse group of women). As both a Glossier mega-fan and a combo-oily acne-prone 19 year old, I hope to share my thoughts on the brand and help anyone still wondering whether to take the plunge!

 

 

The Phase 1 Set

The Phase 1 Set was my very first Glossier purchase, a big splurge for a high school senior. Although the new Phase 1 Set consists of the Milky Jelly Cleanser, the Priming Moisturizer, and Balm Dotcom at $40, the old Phase 1 Set consisted of all of the aforementioned plus the Soothing Face Mist and Perfecting Skin Tint for double the price - $80. It’s an intimidating price point for many, but I justified my purchase at the time by telling myself I basically bought a complete beauty routine, which would have been true if I didn’t wear any other makeup.

 

The Milky Jelly Cleanser is one of their bestselling products, and with good reason. As a “pH-balanced, creamy gel formula made with a blend of five skin conditioners,” this is the perfect cleanser option for those with sensitive skin. Glossier claims that despite the gentleness of the formula, it still has the cleansing power to remove makeup on its own, which I could definitely see if you only wore makeup such as what the models on Glossier’s website wear. However, as a high schooler who loved packing a full face of makeup on daily, the Milky Jelly Cleanser alone didn’t seem like enough to completely deep-clean my pores. That being said, I did love it as a gentle morning cleanser.

 

Typically after cleansing, I follow up with a toner and moisturizer, and the Priming Moisturizer was a product that made moisturizing super exciting for me. With hydrating and soothing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, mushroom super hydrator, anti-redness complex, oxygenating agent, and a blend of vitamin A, C, and E, it was perfect for my sensitive, easily irritated skin. It also gave me the famous dewy look that Glossier is known for. Plus, if you’re someone who struggled to search for a cruelty-free moisturizer in the past, you’ll find it right here.

 

Glossier’s Balm Dotcom is their multipurpose skin and lip salve, full of “antioxidants and natural emollients” to relieve whatever dryness or roughness you may have. I’ve tried five of their flavors: Original, Mint, Coconut, Cherry, and Birthday Cake. The Original smells similar to Vaseline (most likely because they both contain petroleum as their main ingredient), the Mint is just your standard, cooling mint lip balm, the Coconut smells uncannily like Girl Scout Samoa cookies, the Cherry reminds me of cherry flavored cough medicine, and the Birthday Cake, inspired by Milk Bar’s famous birthday cake, obviously smells like a super sweet vanilla-scented dessert. Most of them do not have any color whatsoever, with the exception of Cherry, which is tinted red, and Rose, which is tinted pink. While I did like all of my Balm Dotcoms, $12 for a lip balm is a bit hard to justify with so many more affordable balms on the market. In addition to the disappointing fact that their main ingredient is petroleum, the balm is also quite thick and seems to sit on the skin for a while before absorbing. I personally like to use my Balm Dotcom at night as a lip mask and carry around a lighter, stick-type balm during the day.

While the Soothing Face Mist and Perfecting Skin Tint are no longer a part of the Phase 1 Set, I’ll talk about them as they are still sold separately. The Soothing Face Mist is an $18 rosewater and aloe mist that works great as what Glossier accurately calls a “midday pick-me-up.” I’m a sucker for mists, so I did enjoy it, but I unfortunately have a slight rosewater allergy and it did irritate my skin a bit.

 

I initially didn’t expect much from the tint as high school was when my acne was at its peak, and it is known for having little to no coverage. Sticking to the Glossier code of natural and fresh, the tint is for exactly that -- when you want to put a little something-something on your face but still retain that natural skin-like finish. The “diamond powder” in the formulation gives a brightening and blurring effect, glycerin retains moisture, and their “secret ingredient, Polymer X,” gives a lifting effect to the face. On days that my skin was in good condition,  I loved it as it really gave me that no-makeup makeup look that I had always wanted. But on days when my skin was having a bit of trouble, I felt like it did almost nothing and sometimes even ended up pilling strangely on top of my skin. I do think that the Perfecting Skin Tint is great if you just want something super lightweight and have agreeable skin. However, if you’re seeking more coverage and have problematic skin concerns, pass up on this $26 tint and try out the First Aid Beauty Skin Tint, the supposed light-to-medium coverage version of the Perfecting Skin Tint.

Mask Duo (Mega Greens Galaxy Pack + Moisturizing Moon Mask)

I was lucky enough to catch the holiday Mask Duo set that consisted of 12 single-use, Nespresso-like pods; they were perfect for someone like me who was interested but still doubtful about purchasing the full-sized versions. Although they don’t have the single-use set anymore, they do sell the full-sized Mask Duo set for $40, which is $4 cheaper than buying them separately. If you are considering purchasing them, it’s suggested to buy them together as they are complementary, so the Mask Duo is probably the way to go. The Mega Greens Galaxy Pack is the detoxifying mask, made with kaolin clay and vitamin-rich beauty foods such as leafy green phytonutrients, bitter orange peel, avocado oil, aloe, and superfruit blends. After application, it left my skin feeling nourished. Sadly, I was allergic to one of the ingredients, and it caused reactions that reversed all the good it did to my skin. The Moisturizing Moon Mask is, as the name suggests, the hydrating mask. It consists of honey, aloe, and plant-based squalane to increase elasticity and moisture. As I’ve had great experiences with all of those ingredients, I expected nothing short of amazing from the Moon Mask. It was indeed moisturizing and made my skin soft and supple, and would be a great addition to anyone’s pamper day arsenal.

The Phase 2 Set

The Phase 2 Set is the minimalistic makeup sequel to the Phase 1 Set, with the Boy Brow, Stretch Concealer, and Generation G lipstick. The Boy Brow, hailed as Teen Vogue’s 2015 Game Changer and Allure’s Best of Beauty 2016 pick, is a brow product like no other. It’s a combination of a pomade and brow gel that magically makes your brows look fuller than they’ve ever been before. As someone with pretty full brows that only needed a bit of touch-up, it was the perfect daily brow enhancer as it naturally filled in my sparse areas and boosted the parts that already had hair. Someone with less hair on their brows but still wants a full, strong brow might need a pencil to create more shape.

The Stretch Concealer is Glossier’s form of coverage, often used in conjunction with the lightweight Perfecting Skin Tint. It was marketed as a concealer that would simply look like your skin, unlike other, more matte concealers that give a “cakier” look. The wax gives the Stretch Concealer elasticity, avocado and jojoba oil nourish the skin, and cocoa butter adds to the wax’s elasticity factor. Similar to my experience with the Skin Tint, on good days the Stretch Concealer covered my blemishes naturally and really did look like skin, but on bad days, it clung onto my dry patches and made me look worse. While I loved the whole concept from the packaging (it actually has some weight, which I do like in my products) to even the name, I just had better options in my collection that worked for me regardless of my skin condition.

 

Generation G is hands-down not only one of my favorite Glossier products but also one of my favorite lip products, in general. It’s described as a “sheer matte lipstick that gives the look and finish of just-blotted lipstick without the blot.” I absolutely loved it as I often blot my lipstick with my fingers to create a kind of diffused look, and the Generation G could naturally give that effect. Glossier describes their shades as “the six most important shades, with dialed-down pigment to give a casual look”: Zip (poppy red), Leo (warm cocoa brown), Crush (hot raspberry pink), Jam (deep berry magenta), Cake (subtle peachy nude), and Like (light powdery pink). I have Zip, which actually looks pink on my brown-pink lips, Jam, which is accurately described as a berry magenta, Leo, my perfect MLBB, and Crush, which looked a bit odd on my skin tone (which is a light olive-ish shade). The formula is a crossover between a matte lipstick and a lip balm and I have had no problems with dryness or cracking while wearing Generation G. In fact, out of my many, many lip products, the Generation G lipsticks might be the most comfortable for daily use.

Haloscope

Haloscope is one of their makeup best-sellers, famous for giving users the “glazed donut look.” I was extremely excited to receive mine in Quartz, the pearlescent shade, as I was fascinated by the “halo” design: “an outer halo infused with genuine crystal extracts” and “a solid oil core of vitamin-rich moisturizers.” Unfortunately, because my skin has a lot of texture and peach fuzz, the highlighter sat on top of my skin in an unflattering, texture-accentuating way that I didn’t enjoy. In addition, the oil contained coconut and castor oil, which are feared for their pore-clogging properties and I was worried every time I applied it. I ended up giving mine away to a friend with smoother and less acne-prone skin, and it totally worked for her. In case you’re interested in Haloscope but don’t want a pearlescent highlight, they also have a bronze shade called Topaz and an opal shade called Moonstone!

Cloud Paint

Cloud Paint is the next addition to Glossier’s line of natural makeup, and it is their seamless cream blush. Stored in cute little paint tubes, Cloud Paint is inspired by the beautiful New York City sunsets and come in four stunning shades, Beam (soft pinky orange), Dusk (brown pink), Haze (flushed berry), and Puff (dolly pink). They can be used on their own, or mixed like paint to create your own custom shade. Although cream products tend to smear or disappear throughout the day on my oily skin, Cloud Paint stayed on all day (after powdering). I don’t really have any complaints about these blushes! If you grab the Cloud Paint Duo, you can save $6 and buy the pair for $30 -- a little expensive, but well worth it if you think about how much product there is (I only use a super tiny dot each time).

Lip Gloss

In addition to its captivating packaging, glassy finish, long-lasting properties, and moisturizing Vitamin E, the Glossier Lip Gloss also claims to have gotten rid of the notorious sticky feeling that most lip glosses leave on our lips. While I don’t think it’s totally sticky-free, it for sure lives up to its claims of having a glassy finish, long-lastingness, and hydration. The finish is truly glass-like, and my sister actually commented that it instantly made her chapped lips look perfected. Today I applied just a quick, thin swipe of it on my lips, and it stayed on for quite a while despite my constant lip rubbing, lip licking, lip biting, and hasty face wash. I also don’t even mind the slight sticky feeling because it’s not enough to be annoying, but enough for me to tell that I still have it on my lips. I’ve given this as a gift to many of my loved ones, and all of them have loved it as much as I did.

Priming Moisturizer Rich

The thicker, creamier, and, hence its name, richer version of the Priming Moisturizer, Priming Moisturizer Rich is a luxurious face cream for any time your face needs nourishing. Red algae complex, ceramides, and murumuru butter are just a fraction of the key ingredients that make this cream so comfortably moisturizing. I bought it in the winter when my dry skin was at its worst -- splotches of redness, skin flaking off, itchiness -- and my skin drank it all up. I savored being able to relax at the end of the day and incorporate a luxurious-feeling cream into my nighttime routine without breaking bank. Unfortunately, my skin had an allergic reaction to the lavender oil which was ironically there for its antioxidant and skin-calming properties (and its amazing scent). If your skin doesn’t react to fragrances and you’re looking to invest in a serious cream, Priming Moisturizer Rich might be the one for you!

Invisible Shield

Invisible Shield is Glossier’s daily sunscreen with SPF 35. Launched in Summer 2017, it was marketed as not only a daily SPF but also a protective barrier against pollution, which piqued my interest as someone who lives in a heavily industrial city. According to Into the Gloss, it does so via its “first-of-its-kind encapsulated gel formula,” “a powerful mix of vitamin E, vitamin P, broccoli, and aloe leaf extract to neutralize free radicals inside skin,” and “some fermented yeast and vegetal extract that literally shields skin from anything the universe decides to hurl at it.” The scent is citrus-y and the texture is a watery gel, and there’s no strange oily feeling after application or any alcohol within the formula. In addition, I didn’t experience any pilling which is often something makeup wearers worry about when applying sunscreen beforehand. All in all, it is a good sunscreen, but I don’t know if I noticed any changes in my skin despite its claim of protecting against pollution.

Wowder

You’ve probably noticed how many times I’ve used the word “dewy” to describe Glossier, so you can imagine how surprised I was when they came out with a mattifying powder. The thing that stood out to me about Wowder was that although it does mattify and set your makeup, it also retains a natural glow to your skin. It blurs the pores and as a whole improves your look. Wowder isn’t translucent, but it does come in three very adaptable shades: Light/Medium, Dark/Deep, and Rich. Since the powder isn’t for coverage, it just blends seamlessly into the skin, even if it doesn’t look a perfect shade match. Wowder can be purchased with a matching mini powder brush, which I don’t think is necessary. Overall, Wowder is one of my favorite powders (and I’ve tried many), and I will be repurchasing!

Body Hero Duo

Body Hero is one of Glossier’s latest campaigns, beloved for its diversity in terms of both body type and skin color. As they have casted POC models before, I already expected the Body Hero campaign to have POC models, but I was happily surprised to see a pregnant model -- something I’ve rarely seen in beauty campaigns. The Body Hero models all sported a visible shine to their skin, which was the main objective of the Body Hero Duo -- to cleanse and moisturize but also enhance the dewiness of the skin. While I didn’t buy either of the two, my suitemate luckily had both! Out of the two, she seemed to prefer the Daily Perfecting Cream over the Daily Oil Wash, stating that the wash was a touch too oily for something that’s supposed to leave you feeling clean. The Daily Perfecting Cream was hydrating enough for her, left a subtle but visible glow on and smells HEAVENLY. I’m a huge fan of neroli, and the Daily Perfecting Cream had the perfect blend of citrus, warmth, and nostalgia. The scent is actually a dupe for Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino. However, something I noticed while looking at the Body Hero reviews was that many people experienced pilling on their skin after using the lotion, so while my suitemate and I didn’t experience that, it seemed to be a big problem for many others.

 

In conclusion, although I do love Glossier as a brand and what they stand for, I do feel half-half about their range of products. On one hand, I love that they are cruelty-free, paraben-free, hypoallergenic, minimalistic, and have beautiful, simple packaging (the stickers they come with are a plus, too). The Priming Moisturizer, Boy Brow, Generation G, Cloud Paint, and Wowder are some of my favorite products and I wouldn’t mind purchasing them again. On the other hand, Glossier tends to pack a ton of fragrance and pore-clogging ingredients into their products -- not so great for the acne-prone and sensitive-skinned. The Mega Greens Galaxy Pack and Priming Moisturizer Rich irritated my skin due to their formulation and their newest release, the Solution, didn’t work out well for many sensitive-skinned customers due to its strong chemical formulation. In addition, while the pricing isn’t high-end, it also isn’t anywhere near drugstore pricing. There are definitely some good affordable dupes out there that work just as well, if not better.

 

Regardless of my experience, if you’re as tempted by their irresistible packaging and the desirable Glossier-chic lifestyle, definitely give Glossier a chance.  That being said, I’ve already saved up for their just-released shimmery liquid eyeshadow, Lidstar -- the mystery Glossier product featured on Beyoncé’s Grammys makeup look.

 

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