true to hype: glossier?

I am a huge sucker for aesthetics. Recently I purchased some milk from St. Benoit creamery, i.e. the most expensive milk I’ve had in my life because I liked the packaging of the bottle and had heard good things from other foodies.

Thankfully, St. Benoit lived up to the hype. The milk, which is sold in reusable glass bottles, is not only organic, but comes from pasture-raised cows in Sonoma Country, CA. The milk is incredibly creamy (their milk has more fat than regular milk), delicious and local– and definitely worth the premium price.

But I digress. After I purchased my Clarisonic, I started to become more interested in skin care. I realized that in order to more effectively use my incredibly expensive face brush, I should probably invest in a soap for my face that’s not Dr. Bronner’s. No hate on their products, but their castille soap is really not meant to be used with with a pulsating brush on your face. And so I went on a quest to find a new skin cleanser.

One of the things that immediately came to mind was Glossier. I loooved their Instagram feed, and all the cool girls seemed to be using their products. And I loved their packaging. But I just couldn’t bring myself to shell out $80 for their starter set, so I stayed on Instagram as an admirer.

I remember feeling frustrated I could find what seemed to be no “honest” reviews of their products. All the It Girl blogs spoke glowingly of Glossier, and big name sites just churned out the same uninformative reviews of their products. I also got the sense that it was somewhat uncool to speak poorly of Glossier as there were so few critical reviews. This led me to delay my purchase more, and to be deeply suspicious of how hyped their products were. But after I stumbled upon a discount code from some rando girl, I decided to make the plunge and try their Phase 1 set, and write an honest non-sponsored review.

Just as a disclaimer, while I did receive a 20% discount on my Phase 1 set (due to me using a random girl’s referral code), this is in no way a post sponsored by Glossier. This is the real, skeptical thing.


For the uninitiated, a well-read style blog, Into the Gloss, created their own line of skincare and makeup products– Glossier. Their website is super cute and kitschy, and there is an emphasis on “dewy”, “glowing” and “your skin, but better.” The product I tried was the newest iteration of their “Phase 1 Set”, which is supposed to be a basic foundation to a skin care routine. It includes a cleanser (Milky Jelly Cleanser), priming moisturizer, general moisturizer/balm (called “balm dot com”) and a “skin tint”.

The Review

Packaging/First Impressions

  • shipped in a timely fashion
  • super cute packaging (+++ points)
  • cute pink zip storage bags included for travel
  • pack of Glossier stickers was included (slapped a few on my laptop)

In general the first impression of the product was very strong. Glossier carried out their branding through and through, and it’s rare to see a U.S. company emphasize presentation so much. I appreciated this. But as you know, I’m a sucker for design so I tried to stay objective and not get distracted by the packaging. Onto the real contents of the review:

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From right to left: Perfecting Skin Tint, Milky Jelly Cleanser, Priming Moisturizer and Balm Dot Com

Milky Jelly Cleanser (usually $18)

This is the newest product amongst the four in the set. After a much hyped launch a few months ago, Glossier released a “crowd-sourced” cleanser. It comes in a sturdy bottle and smells faintly of roses. One of its big-deal features is the fact that it can go onto the skin when the skin is dry or wet. You can use the cleanser on wet skin as a normal cleanser, or you can use it on dry skin at the end of the day to “dissolve and remove makeup” off your face.

This was the item I was looking the most excited about, but was somewhat disappointed. While the cleanser has a nice consistency, it doesn’t foam or “bubble” at all, which is actually kind of a problem with a Clarisonic (kind of “gunks up” the brush). It  didn’t leave my face feeling as clean or fresh in comparison to my current cleanser, purity.

It is also a very weird and kind of unpleasant sensation to put it onto a dry face, that almost leaves your hands feeling sticky. While it does work very well in removing makeup, the experience in doing so wasn’t ideal. The cleanser however, does not irritate your eyes at all (even if you get a little cleanser in your eye, it doesn’t burn or sting). This is a really nice plus.

But as a cleanser, I was really underwhelmed. Even when using a Clarisonic, it really does not give a “clean” and fresh feeling after use.

If anything, I think the cleanser works great as a gentle makeup remover, and I think this is how I will incorporate it into my routine. At $18 a bottle (6 oz.) I am not sure whether I would buy this product again when I run out.

Balm Dot Com (usually $12)

The balm dot com is sold as a kind of all-purpose moisturizing salve. It is meant to be used on any areas of dry skin.

So this review is incomplete, and it is my bad. I bought the Phase 1 set without properly inspecting all of the ingredients for each component, and the balm dot com contains lanolin! So first of all, this means it’s not vegan (which isn’t an issue for me but could be to some). My issue comes from the fact that I am very very allergic to sheep and wool, and lanolin is basically wool grease. It is frequently used in many conventional moisturizers, so I have to take special care to avoid it.

I didn’t even pause to read the ingredients and applied it straight away to my lips– I had gotten so used to my current products (which I heavily screened for lanolin) that when my lips broke out stinging and covered in tiny bumps the next day, I was shocked! But when I read the back of the tube, I saw that lanolin was an ingredient and realized my error. I don’t blame Glossier for this, they prominently advertise this as an ingredient on their website as well.

So I can’t give a review of it really because I only wore it once, and then realized I was allergic. I will say that it does smell weird though. It almost smells smoky, and kind of like firewood? Not exactly the scent I want on my lips.They also sell a coconut-scented version, so perhaps this is a possible work-around.

Priming Moisturizer (usually $25)

This was the breakout-star product for me. I wasn’t expecting the priming moisturizer to be memorable, but this is probably my favorite product. As a primer, it is lightweight, but also has a great texture and feel on the face. It goes on very smoothly and feels soothing in application. My skin looks really really great after I use the moisturizer. I’ve always had pretty large and visible pores, and despite having clear skin, my pores are very evident on my face. The priming moisturizer kind of blurs out my pores on my face, and provides a good surface for other makeup to rest on. I didn’t really like my current primer that much, while it is meant for people with large pores, it kind of just gunks up and “fills up” your pores to create a smooth surface, and leaves me feeling pretty gross after.

Glossier’s primer on the other hand, while providing a smooth finish, doesn’t literally fill up my pores with product. My skin feels light and breathable!

My only complain about the product is that it contains no SPF. I think this is really odd, considering that sun protection is generally accepted as crucial to long term skin health. I find it annoying that I have to have a separate product to give me sun protection, and hope Glossier moves to having SPF in their priming moisturizer in the future.

I would buy this product again, though it is somewhat expensive given its volume.

Perfecting Skin Tint (usually $26)

This light-weight liquid is very sheer and meant to provide minimal coverage. On their website, Glossier describes the skin tint’s functions as something that”Evens out discoloration and leaves your face looking toned, smooth, and dewy” but it is a pretty minimal product. It is very sheer and certainly won’t cover up any blemishes.

I found this product to be pretty average.  This product is so sheer, I’m not even sure it really does anything to improve the skin’s appearance.

I probably won’t buy more of the skin tint when I run out.


I was only really impressed by the priming moisturizer, though I hesitate to buy anything again just because of the prices. While I do believe that skincare is something one should really “invest” in, I don’t really see these products as investments, more like something cute and trendy. Like the brand itself, Glossier’s products are simply too young and trendy for me to feel secure in purchasing them in the long term.

Especially when so much money is involved, I think it’s really important to evaluate whether a product makes you feel good, actually looks good, and is something you feel good about buying. While the packaging and branding of Glossier looks really really good, Glossier, for the most part, their products didn’t leave me feeling “wow” in the same way my current beauty products do.

So in my mind, Glossier is currently mostly hype. I really hope that for their next iterations they improve– and since they are a young brand I am sure they are constantly innovating. I look forward to seeing the products they may release in the years to come.