“I’ll do anything to have good packaging for the way that it looks on my shelf. It makes me so happy and makes my bathroom look fancier,” says freelance stylist Summer Miller in a New York Times featurette on the rise of boujee soap. She’s not alone — Miller is one of many millennials who has both grown up in the digital age and become enamored with capturing the perfect aesthetic. Pretty soap is just one facet of this obsession. As social media influencer Alexander Atkins suggests, his generation “seems to be more aesthetically driven [than previous ones].”
Perhaps the most tangible manifestation of this sentiment is the success of Glossier, a startup makeup and skincare brand founded by the formidable Emily Weiss. A millennial herself, Weiss distilled key aspects of the millennial aesthetic into a brand that has the golden touch when it comes to beauty and skincare.
Glossier ships its products in iconic pink bubble wrap ziplock bags with minimalist pink-and-white packaging, which influencers often feature in their Instagram posts alongside Chanel perfume and Louis Vuitton handbags. Weiss first launched the brand as an offshoot company of her blog, “Into the Gloss,” and since its founding in 2010, Glossier has gained a worldwide cult following, primarily comprised of young millennials. As of today, the company has acquired a total of $86.4 million over four rounds of funding, and just recently launched an offshoot brand called Glossier Play.
The success of Glossier can largely be attributed to the brand’s unique marketing strategies. Glossier partners with social media influencers to generate advertisements described as social media content. Their most successful “commercials” are disguised as “Get Ready With Me” morning routine videos, where influencers, models, Glossier employees, and other Glossier partners talk through their morning routines while using their favorite Glossier products.
Published on YouTube among thousands of other “daily morning routine” videos posted by beauty vloggers and social influencers, Glossier’s advertisements seamlessly blend in with the rest of the Internet’s beauty-related video content. The company capitalizes on the casual way in which everyday women talk about their favorite beauty products, marketing their brand as a beauty company focused on enhancing the natural, unique, beauty of each individual woman.
Additionally, unlike most corporate-level beauty brands, Glossier is completely consumer-driven. During her time working for Vogue, W Magazine, and Ralph Lauren, Emily Weiss observed how large, corporate beauty companies operated from the top down, and realized that many of the problems associated with makeup products would be solved if beauty brands actually listened to their consumers. In contrast to companies like Maybelline and MAC, Glossier develops products based on customer feedback from comments on social media, surveys, and other platforms. In this way, Glossier can tailor its products to the needs and desires of its customers, thus democratizing beauty and making it appear more accessible.
Needless to say, Glossier is rapidly changing the landscape for cosmetics by reshaping the aesthetics of beauty and reimagining the definition of success in the beauty industry. In a global enterprise where beauty is often highly exclusionary, from the public perspective Glossier serves as an antidote to the exclusiveness of beauty. But is it worth the hype? Is the Glossier Boy Brow truly as volumizing as everyone says? Do the Cloud Paints really look as natural in real life as they seem online? Below, I take you through my experience with every Glossier product I’ve tried and either approve or debunk the hype, rating each product on its function and aesthetic.
1. Milky Jelly Cleanser: 10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND! 😍(starting positive)
Prior to buying the full-size version of the Milky Jelly Cleanser, I had sampled it a few times but just never felt like I needed to replace my Cetaphil cleanser, which was cheap, gentle on my skin, and got the job done. However, a few weekends ago on a short day-trip to NYC, I decided to bite the bullet and finally purchase the Glossier cleanser after a year of hemming and hawing. And let me tell you: there is a REASON why this cleanser is a cult favorite. I have troubled combination skin, but after I began using the Milky Jelly Cleanser, my skin has become smooth and almost 100 percent blemish-free. On top of that, the cleanser itself is a luxurious product that makes washing your face in the morning feel like a rose-infused anointment from the heavens.
2. Lidstar in “Fawn”: 8/10 SOLID 👌
The Glossier Lidstar is a creamy, metallic, and neutral eyeshadow formula that has the consistency of a light moisturizer. You apply the product with a fuzzy-tip applicator and massage the creamy pigment into your eyelid to spread the color. I’ve only purchased Lidstar in “Fawn,” which is a dusty rose-mauve color that complements my skin tone, and usually wear it alone or with a NARS chubby stick. I love the convenience of the Glossier Lidstar — you don’t need a brush to apply the product, you only use your fingers — and the creamy base means that the eyeshadow has the luminescence of glitter eyeshadow without the fallout or smudging. Personally, I don’t find the packaging very attractive — but overall, it’s a solid product that I would most likely purchase again.
3. Boy Brow in “Black”: 5/10 THANK U, NEXT 💃🏻
Boy Brow, one of Glossier’s most hyped and highly rated products, is an eyebrow gel that you apply to your brow hairs just like mascara. Glossier recommends purchasing the tint that matches your hair color, so I chose the shade “Black.” Unfortunately, Boy Brow did not give me the results that I was expecting, and so, given the hype, I was pretty disappointed. The brow gel made my Asian brow hairs darker and more defined, but my hairs are already dark enough. I much prefer Anastasia’s Brow Definer, which gives me the right combination of definition and softness. Maybe the clear brow gel would work better for taming my brow hairs, but in all honestly I think I would just purchase the Maybelline clear mascara instead.
4. Generation G in “Cake” and “Like”: 9/10 EXCELLENT COLOR, MEDIUM PIGMENT QUALITY 💋
The Glossier Generation G is a matte, MLBB (my-lips-but-better) lipstick that complements all skin tones. I purchased Generation G in “Cake” and “Like,” but my favorite shade is by far “Cake” (fun fact: Emily Weiss also reportedly wore “Cake” during her wedding). “Cake” is a beautiful, natural lip shade reminiscent of the “Dusk” Cloud Paint, and the color goes with everything I wear. The lipstick itself isn’t drying at all — I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s moisturizing, but a qualm that I have with many matte lipsticks (@NARS …) is that they dry out my lips and make them all cracked and gross and very un-kissable. I’ve never had this issue with Generation G. However, I will say that the pigment does not seem to be of the highest quality, as the color does wear off quite easily compared to lipsticks by higher-end brands. The packaging is modern and chic — definitely worth purchasing again!
5. Cloud Paint in “Dusk” and “Storm”: 10/10 THE BEST BLUSH. 😍
This has to be my favorite Glossier product, and probably my favorite blush of all time. It’s a liquidy, cream-type blush that I apply by squeezing onto the back of my hand and using my fingers to gently dab it into my skin. Because the blush is quite pigmented, a little goes a long way, and even though I use my Cloud Paint every day, it lasts me an entire year. “Dusk” is a peachy brown-nude color that almost looks as if it could be bronzer. However, the shade works perfectly on my skin as a blush, giving me just a hint of natural color. The product is very buildable as well, so I can regulate the saturation of the blush by adding more or less depending on what I want. This shade would work well with most skin tones, as it’s the most neutral color of all the Cloud Paints.
6. Lip Gloss: 6/10 SOMETHING ARIANA GRANDE WOULD USE 💫
The Glossier Lip Gloss is pretty much everything you would expect from a lip gloss … Glossier claims that their lip gloss gives lips a “cushiony, crystal clear shine—no gluey feeling, no stickiness, no grittiness, no glitter.” While the lip gloss is as good as lip gloss is ever going to get, there really isn’t anything that separates it from other similar products, and it still has the sticky, gooey consistency of all other lip glosses. However, I appreciate that it’s a clear gloss, because I can layer it over pigmented lipsticks and lip tints if I want more of a “wet look.” Additionally, it does feel moisturizing (as Glossier claims), and, coupled with the thickness of the formula, it adds a protective layer over my lips in a manner similar to Vaseline. The packaging is absolutely stellar — crystal-clear, minimalist, simple — and makes the product that much more worth it.
7. Balm Dotcom in “Coconut” and “Mint”: 8/10 MOISTEN THOSE LIPS 💦
The Balm Dotcom comes in a toothpaste-like tube, moisturizing the lips with beeswax and castor seed oil while adding a glossy sheen. The formula is a bit thicker than traditional stick lip balms, but not as balmy as a pot of Vaseline. I enjoy the coconut flavor much more than the mint, as I’ve never tasted or smelled anything like it before. The mint also gives your lips a bit of a tingling effect. Personally, I prefer thicker balms, but I still love this product and use it on my lips, face, cuticles, hands — whatever needs a bit of love. With all the bright pastel colors and fruity flavors, the packaging and branding of Balm Dotcom is a bit reminiscent of Lip Smackers lip balms, but much more sophisticated and hip.
8. Stretch Concealer in “G8”: 7/10 IN ALL THE SHADES 🌈
For as long as I can remember, I’ve used the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in “Custard.” It blends so seamlessly, feels heavenly creamy, and can conceal practically anything, so I never felt the need to splurge on an alternative option. But recently, I found myself itching to try a pot concealer, so I figured that I’d take a leap of faith on the Glossier Stretch Concealer. It’s a bit thinner than I’m used to, and takes some warming up to really extract a good amount of product, but has buildable coverage that looks quite natural on the skin. My main qualm is that I chose a shade a touch too dark for my skin right now, but I think that it will be perfect in the summertime when I acquire a slight tan. I don’t know if I would necessarily rate it higher than the NARS concealer, but I like that I can use my fingers to directly apply the product, and it feels very moisturizing. As always, the packaging is sleek and minimalist with white and silver accents.
9. Super Pure: 3/10 AESTHETIC PACKAGING BUT PRETTY MEDIUM EXECUTION 👾
Glossier claims that their Super Pure serum serves to “soothe redness and help calm blemishes,” indicating that it’s intended for acne-prone skin. Back when I still had troubled skin, I decided to try the Super Pure serum because it had decent reviews. Most acne-treatment products don’t work well on my skin, because the “acne” areas of my face are abnormally dry and acne treatments typically dry out the skin. However, Super Pure doesn’t have salicylic acid and some of the other traditional acne-attacking ingredients, so I hoped the serum might be different. Instead, it dried out my skin even more, making my acne even worse. Super Pure failed me, but this may just be because of my wack skin type. The packaging looks like an adorable, clear baby milk bottle with pink detailing.