I’ve got to be honest: the Glossier aesthetic does not do it for me. It’s all about effortless natural beauty and I…man, I somehow ended up more asymmetrical than late-life Abraham Lincoln, so I need all the unnatural tricks I can get. I was kicked in the face while playing goalie, I have two earlobes on my left ear (let’s keep pretending that’s a piercing accident tho), and my teeth don’t manage to line up. I was never destined to be a great natural beauty, to put it mildly. In addition, Glossier’s “best tumblr pale blog of 2013” look doesn’t get me hype, just sayin’.
That said, I like good skincare products, and I think this is a good product. I’ve reviewed a lot of cleansers: from 15 first-step oil cleansers to 8 low-pH water-soluble cleansers, even comparing the CosRx Good Morning Cleanser to Dante’s journey into Hell (I like the CosRx cleanser almost as much as I like Inferno, by the way).
What attracted me to the Milky Jelly Cleanser is the fact that the pH level is super low (which is great for skin) and it doesn’t foam. My skin is generally pretty resilient, but it crumbles like an amateur when confronted with certain surfactants. Milky Jelly uses mild surfactants and doesn’t foam, so I thought I’d try it.
How I tested Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
It’s been almost three months since I bought this cleanser, and I’ve used the crap out of it–I have only about an inch left. That may not sound impressive to you, but I only hit empty on a few products each year due to my massive collection of just about everything and refusal to use products I don’t like. After using it for a few weeks I took a massive chance: I took it on a work trip for almost a week and used it as my only cleanser.
Why I like Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
It’s so freaking gentle. I can slather this on my skin when it’s in almost any condition and it’s fine. The only exception is if my skin is so battered due to acids and my Curology prescription that my moisture barrier is compromised–at that point, my skin will sting a bit. In that condition, even tears would sting my skin. It only happens occasionally, and it actually means that the cleanser is a good litmus test for determining the health of my skin that day–if it can’t take this cleanser without complaining, my moisture barrier is compromised, my skin is over-exfoliated, and I need to scale back on my actives.
What I really appreciate about this cleanser is that my skin seems to be much calmer at times I use it consistently. Blemishes decide to be the good versions of themselves and disappear quickly. It makes sense: low pH discourages acne bacteria growth and a lack of irritation from hater surfactants could mean less blemish-provoking irritation. In any case, I’m not taking any chances–I’m about to buy another bottle to keep my good[-for-me] skin streak alive.
I also like the packaging–the nozzle switches to off and the bottle travels well. The middle part of the bottle is flexible, but the curved parts are very solid, so I felt ok just switching the pump over and throwing it in my suitcase.
What I think could be better about Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
To me, this smells like some sort of expensive version of child-safe glue with rose scent added. Maybe rather than glue it’s more like a whiff of plastic from those little fort things toddlers have–you know, the things with the slides and rounded edges? (My kids are cats, I’m struggling here.) Little Tikes. A hint of Little Tike slide with a natural rose scent layered over it. The rose scent is natural and really delicious, but there’s still the glue/slide in the background. Or foreground. I’ve sort of adjusted to it so that I smell the rose now more than the eco glue, but still…I get that Glossier avoids added fragrances and whatnot, but glue, man. In combination with the texture, I was pretty squicked out by this at first.
I feel like the makeup removal rhetoric is overdone–this isn’t a truly great makeup remover for me, but it is a great water-soluble cleanser for my skin. I use a ton of makeup and have oily skin, so an oil cleanser is perfect for slicing through the nasty and clearing my pores–Milky Jelly didn’t stand a chance against my fav.
The first pump of product is great and smooth, but after that the pump sticks a bit and pops up quite slowly. I’m always rushing and impatient, so I just push the pump back up to speed things along and that works fine, but it’s not ideal.
How to use Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
1: As an all-in-one makeup remover and cleanser
Glossier recommends applying this on dry skin, massaging it in (including into your eye makeup–it’s gentle), and rinsing to remove makeup. I guess skin is supposed to be cleansed at the same time makeup is removed. I tried it one night just to say I did and to live on the wild side–nothing horrendous happened, but that one-stepping sounds like the sort of shit I’d pull in my early 20s. Now in my 30s and dealing with hormonal acne, naw, bruh. I gave up booze and lazy cleansing a few years ago. I’m a two-stepper.
2: As a makeup remover and cleanser (two washings to get clean)
To use Milky Jelly for both makeup removal and skin cleansing, I just used it twice, back to back. That was how I cleansed my face during my work trip and it was ok. I started with two pumps on dry, oily, makeupy skin. I massaged it in and then rinsed with water. I kept rinsing until the water ran clear and then applied two more pumps on my wet face (dry if I wanted a better cleanse) to play clean-up crew with any remaining makeup that I couldn’t see and to cleanse my skin, then I rinsed. My skin felt fine, but I really prefer a very thin oil cleanser for makeup removal–it seems to get in my pores, emulsify, and rinse away most cleanly.
3: As a second-step cleanser after removing makeup
I’ve tried using this cleanser as a second step (water-soluble) cleanser after removing my makeup with an oil cleanser and it works fine. I feel like Milky Jelly works best on dry skin, so there’s the issue of needing to oil cleanse, rinse, dry, apply Milky Jelly, rinse, and dry. It’s a bit fiddly. I also don’t mind using a bubbling cleanser like CosRx Good Morning after using an oil cleanser because they just work really well together and I appreciate a bit more muscle in a cleanser that follows an oil cleanser.
4: As a morning cleanser (my favorite)
Ding freaking dong, this is where it’s at. I stumble to the sink in the morning, massage two pumps of Milky Jelly into my dry skin, hop in the shower, and rinse it off. I think of it as “silent birth” for my skin–no crazy cleanser first thing in the morning, just a nice, gentle, gluey-rosy wakeup.
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser Ingredients
Water/Aqua/Eau, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Propanediol, Isohexadecane, Poloxamer 184, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Xylitylglucoside, Betaine, Allantoin, Glycerin, Panthenol, Symphytum Officinale Root Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Anhydroxylitol, Polysorbate 80, Xylitol, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Isopropyl Myristate, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide. CosDNA analysis.
Just a note: I sometimes read people saying things like “I don’t use products with ingredients I can’t pronounce.” I don’t think that ingredients should be dismissed due to someone’s deficiencies in pronunciation ability. Most people can’t pronounce Italian food names correctly, but it certainly doesn’t hold them back from eating it. This cleanser lacks some of the dazzling skincaretainment extracts that show up in kbeauty cleansers and includes some long-name ingredients, but having tested the formula, this one is my choice for morning cleansing.
Glossier has some info about what these ingredients do, but I personally feel that when cleansers are involved, you just need to know that the ingredient list doesn’t contain any of your personal triggers and then try it. It’s a cleanser. Ideally, you put it on your skin, remove bad stuff, and rinse it off, all fairly quickly. It’s not an essence, serum, or acid–there’s only so much it can do. If you’re passionate about skincare, I suspect you have a damn fine skincare routine or are on the cusp of making one, so you don’t need your cleanser to deliver anything other than your skin in good condition at the end of the cleanse. That alone is more than 95% of cleansers can do for my skin. Milky Jelly can do that.
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser pH Level
I bought Milky Jelly due to the amazingly low pH level, so this isn’t a surprise.
Why Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser beats other contenders
Acwell is the closest thing to Milky Jelly that I’ve encountered, but the smell is not a favorite of mine and the formula somehow manages to make my skin feel strangely rough–almost like what I imagine an open hair cuticle would feel like if it were much larger and also skin on my face. uhh
Pool cleansers, cleansers that you put on dry skin and can remove makeup and do cleansing in one step supposedly, are also very similar to Milky Jelly. The big benefit of Milky Jelly is that it doesn’t drag or tug significantly on my skin (keep in mind that I use two pumps of Milky Jelly) while pretty violent friction is an essential part of the pool cleansing process.
CosRx is still my favorite cleanser for using after I’ve removed makeup and sunscreen with an oil cleanser, but the smell can be a bit much to take in the morning (it’s tea tree-ish), when I don’t need as much cleansing firepower.
These suck at removing makeup and the jars are fiddly.
Enzyme Powder Cleansers: Su:m 37 White Award Enzyme Powder Wash, Leejiham (LJH) White-P Zyme, and Tosowoong Powder Enzyme Wash
The papain and SLS in some of these cleansers irritates my skin. The best of the bunch for my skin, Su:m 37, comes in ridiculous tiny paper packages that need to be opened, saved, kept from water, and worshipped each solstice to remain in good condition.
Milky Jelly is much cheaper and the pH is lower (there has been a reformulation recently that resulted in a higher pH).
The Triumph of Crowdsourcing
I realized while writing this review that the two water-soluble cleansers I use and like most, Milky Jelly and CosRx Good Morning, were designed with input from customers and skincare fans (Fiddy from Fifty Shades of Snail asked CosRx to make a low-pH cleanser while Glossier put out a general call for input on intothegloss.com). I have no idea what this means. It could be that I’m biased for crowdsourced products without even realizing it or maybe sincere interest in what customers really want actually results in…better products. Hmm.
Buy Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
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