Originally published 9 December 2016; updated 1 June 2017.
I’ve been promising to review everything made by Glossier for some time — here’s the mega review, at last! I own all of it, not out of particular interest in the brand or products, but due to readers here using referral links to become new Glossier customers (thank you!). Hopefully this review can help Glossier customers new and existing decide where to drop their dollars for maximum effect.
I’m writing this as a person who is obsessed with skincare, particularly Korean skincare. It’s my feeling that if you’re reading this blog, you might also be into skincare. Keep in mind that if your skincare routine currently consists of, say, just cleansing occasionally with something that resembles as baby wipe, these products could all…pretty much…be massive steps forward for your routine. That said, I don’t think it’s necessary to go wild and buy everything made by a single brand just because you’re new; you can easily get a great Asian Beauty skincare routine that I think is better for well under $100 on Amazon (here’s my post on that), so…
This review, like all reviews here, is based on my personal opinion and preferences. As always, seek out other opinions and test things yourself — we may feel very differently about products.
I’ve arranged this roundup starting with the stuff I like least then the stuff I think is redundant followed by products I find good but not revolutionary and finishing with products that I find really special and unique despite owning a shitton of cosmetics.
Glossier should be commended for firing up a conversation about daily sunscreen use that has the potential to save lives (from cancer) and skin (from premature aging). That such a productive and useful conversation is centered around the launch of a pretty lacking product is disappointing. While Invisible Shield really is invisible on skin due to using chemical filters that don’t cause a white cast, skincare fans have raised a number of valid questions about the formula. The first is why the product is only SPF 35 when similar formulas legally sold in the US offer SPF 50 protection. Sunscreen fans have also inquired about the lack of certain “helper” ingredients necessary to stabilize the chemical sunscreen filters and wondered why a sunscreen that will obviously be exposed to light contains an essential oil; these potential formula errors can lead to the release of free radicals. Then there’s the cost of the product. At 30ml, one would need to buy more than one $34 bottle per month if using the recommended amount of about 1/4 teaspoon per day. That’s more than $1 per day for a sunscreen that’s not waterproof or water-resistant. On my oily skin, the ‘cone-rich formula slid easily across my face and served as a good slippery primer in dry areas, but resulted in a major oil slick effect overall by the end of the day. I could set my base with powder, but vastly cheaper sunscreens with better formulations don’t require that, so…why. WHY. I’m also concerned that the price and texture will result in people using less than the recommended amount, slicing the SPF 35 protection down to almost nothingness (you don’t get the stated amount of protection unless you’re using the recommended amount of product). If you love the formula of Invisible Shield, Make P:rem Capsule Sun Gel is virtually the same, but costs much less and doesn’t have the free-radical-releasing formula issues. I’m having a love affair with Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel SPF 50/PA+++, which is cheap, has a pump, and dries down fantastically on my oily skin. Even the downgraded (in my opinion) 2017 (teal tube) version of Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+/PA++++ is a step up due to price, competent formula, and water resistance. I think you can do better on so many levels.
This cream (ingredient breakdown) is absolutely not made for normal-to-oily skin like mine, so I wasn’t expecting to love it. Even then, yikes, it really didn’t impress me. It’s a product so thick and weirdly slippery that I didn’t even enjoy having it on my dry hands; it feels somehow unnatural and like it just sits on top of skin rather than sinking in. I tested it on my face for one day and tapped out. Look for it in an upcoming “hell no that’s not going on my face: instant skincare rejections” post. I’ll be interested to hear what experienced skincare fans with dry skin have to say about this one; the limited early feedback I’ve heard from them hasn’t been favorable.
This wash-off moisturizing mask is heavy on emollients (ingredient breakdown), which I find take a bit to sink in. But the mask is supposed to be washed off after 20 minutes. On my normal-to-oily skin, this literally felt like nothingness. It’s a performance of *・゜ﾟ・* masking *・゜ﾟ・* for the sake of feeling like you’ve self-cared (and for the ‘gram, let’s be honest) rather than a truly effective skincare treatment. If I HAD to use this, I’d try it as an overnight mask. But I think there’s a greater chance that I’ll get a lapdance from Kim Jongin than use this again.
Again, this is an example of performative masking minus the major punch I’m looking for from skincare. The ingredients make this mask seem like a more expensive, more skincaretainment-y dupe of Queen Helene’s beloved and very cheap Mint Julep Masque, but it packs nowhere near the shit-sucking punch. Keep in mind that ingredients in the US are listed according to overall concentration and phenoxyethanol is usually at 1% concentration, so all of those fancy extracts listed after it? Not much of them in the product. I’ll stick with the cheap classic.
Glossier claims to have made a new version of these lip tints/lipsticks, but the ones I tried were a mess. Zero moisture, clung to dry flakes. If Glossier is about minimalist makeup, I shouldn’t need a three-step lip care routine to make a simple tint look ok. The matte finish was interesting and the colors were bright as opposed to the nudes we see so much from Western makeup brands, so I think there’s potential. The packaging, which is usually really well-thought-out seemed cheap and prototype-ish for these. I could buy two Generation Gs or one Dior lipstick and pay about the same amount…NO FUCKING CONTEST, GIVE ME THE DIOR (Rouge Baume lipsticks are moisturizing and feel so nice).
Someone needs to say it: if you wear base makeup and especially if you set it with powder, how the fuck are you able to use a stick highlighter without destroying it? I’ve dabbed-dabbed this on and it looks like nothingness; at least Pat McGrath’s Skin Fetish stick highlighter has enough firepower that it shows up. Maybe you like a subtle highlight. I want to look like I found a stolen bag of gold flakes face-first.
You probably already own exactly this
Lip Gloss (no longer available)
This is literally clear fucking lip gloss. If you’re into lip gloss, you probably have three already. I tried this and tossed it aside, meanwhile I’ve been using the shit out of the By Terry Baume de Rose Flaconnette that arrived in my Cult Beauty Goody Bag, which is somewhat similar but has a vastly better formula and nice rose smell. The main claim of this product is that it’s not sticky. Debatable.
No. 1 Pencil (no longer available)
This eyeliner reminds me of the drugstore liners I’d buy when I was a grad student: I’d end up with dark gray liner because they didn’t have the pigmentation necessary to look black. And that was fine; if I screwed up I could smudge them and the results would be just about the same in the end anyway. It’s just…not that exciting and totally buyable at cheaper prices from drugstore brands. On my skin it looks like half-assed black liner. If you subscribe to beauty boxes, you probably already own one or twelve better versions of the classic black or nearly black liner.
Isn’t this just a lotion/moisturizer? Are other ones made in the West somehow different? I’m genuinely confused. It does moisturize and it’s not disgusting, so if your routine is totally lacking in moisturizers this could be good. The ingredients are probably going to be fine for most skin and the price isn’t totally ridiculous, but it’s a lotion? Fellow hoarder: don’t you have at least three already in your collection?
I half-face tested Super Glow (ingredient analysis) and Super Pure (ingredient analysis) for weeks and whole face tested Super Bounce (ingredient analysis). We need to come to skincare jesus: I find these to be expensive deliverers of watery moisture. They feel great: they absorb quickly for serums/essences of this type and don’t have any sort of gross or sticky finish. I didn’t notice these doing anything particularly astounding for my skin outside of delivering more moisture, but that could be because my skin is fed a hardcore diet of acids and prescription medication that handle PIH removal, pore cleaning, and glow giving. Finally, at $28 for 15ml, these are pretty stunningly expensive compared to comparable skincare from Korea. You could buy Mizon ampoules for half the cost and double the volume and get the same results imo.
Good, but not game-changing
This mist is a bit irritating to my skin (it could be the citric acid, here’s the full ingredient analysis) and my nozzle is a bit off-balance, leading to one side of my face getting hit more than the other — BUT the rose scent is delicious and the formula is legitimately hydrating while drying fast. I’d skip this is you have sensitive or very exfoliated skin.
These balms are like a small amount of Vaseline in a tube, some with added color and scent (the regular Balm Dotcom, pictured here, isn’t scented), for a lot more than the cost of Vaseline. THAT SAID, the tube packaging is really nice and convenient, they have some interesting ingredients that Vaseline doesn’t, and they smell really fantastic.
The Boy Brow formula is fine if a bit goopy compared to similar products, but I found that the lightest shade was way too warm for my ash blonde brows. The limited shades are a problem for those looking to get a good match, but Boy Brow could really work well for those who match one of the three shades (I’ve meanwhile found Benefit’s Gimme Brow in 01 useful for doing the same thing minus the too-warm problem).
Nail Polish (no longer available)
It’s a #glossierpink nail polish that’s not hard to use. It looks nice. It’s quite durable. I’d go a little milkier on the pink to make it more office-appropriate for more people, but that would also make it harder to only need two coats.
This is a legitimate step forward, nice, actually really like
Freaking juicy, ultra-pigmented gel-cream that creates the sort of blush I can otherwise only get when reading tentacle porn. One tiny dot is enough (on my NC15 skin) to create a major bloom. Even better, the pigmentation is lasting and the formula plays great with base makeup, even bb cream set with powder. I never thought I’d like a liquidy blush, but this is fantastic.
I think that Stretch Concealer is like a more blendable, even more natural-looking version of the famous RMS Un Cover-Up concealer. It doesn’t offer much in the way of camouflage, but if you want/need a little coverage and never want to have your concealer looking cakey or too thick, this is great. For $18, it’s totally worth the price imo.
If you have great or almost great skin and don’t want to cover it up, ding fucking dong, Perfecting Skin Tint is the shiiiit. It really doesn’t hide much of anything, just provides a super subtle filter to blur imperfections a little, but like the Stretch Concealer, it’s virtually impossible to end up looking like a makeupy mess while wearing this. If you’ve worked your ass off to achieve gorgeous skin but still want a little base makeup, give this a try. Stretch Concealer plus Perfecting Skin Tint plus wet n wild’s legendary Reserve Your Cabana are my workday jam.
A legitimately good, low-pH morning cleanser that my skin can handle in any condition whatsoever. Full review.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Clicking those links before you shop means that fan-b receives a small commission or store credit, which helps to support the blog. The products reviewed in this post with the exception of one were “purchased” at no cost using Glossier referral credit. Please see my full disclosure for more information.