Since it launched in 2014, Glossier has become synonymous with effortless, cool-girl make-up. Its style is almost anarchically minimalist – slicked up brows, bitten lips and freckled complexions – as is its range: around 35 products for a brand that’s seven years old is unusually limited in the beauty industry.
It’s also unusual, for such a popular brand, in being sold purely through its website – there is no middle man here – and with its fairly low prices, Glossier makes a point of trying to be accessible and not exclusive.
The brand also taps into the trend for a skincare-first, celebrate-your-flaws approach to make-up: it champions natural texture and imperfections, and a fresh, unfussy finish. It’s an appealing philosophy, and it’s easy to see why Glossier’s pink-and-white packaging has come to dominate both Instagram and our bathrooms.
But these are big aims and claims, so we’ve spent weeks testing the brand’s offering to sort out what is worthwhile cult from what is merely hype.
Glossier caught the big-brow trend just right with the launch of boy brow, which launched in 2015. It’s a soft, non-crispy gel that gives volume to brows, keeps them in the shape you like (recommended: spiking towards your temples) and adds weight and definition to tiny hairs, giving you fuller-looking brows. It’s available in five cool shades, including clear, if you prefer to fill in your brows first with a pencil and a coloured gel is all a bit too much.
This is one of our absolute favourite Glossier products. It has a light cream consistency, so neither a traditional pot cream blush nor a cheek tint, that’s incredibly highly pigmented, so you only need a tiny bit to build up a good flush. Pat it on to cheeks with your fingertips, either on the apples of your cheeks or on the cheekbones towards the outside of your face; it stays put very well for a liquid formula. On no-eyeshadow days, we love to drag whatever’s left on our fingers just under the eyebrows, for a natural but matching flush. Try it in the rosy shade “storm” or bright coral “dawn”.
This is a truly low-maintenance lipstick. It has a moisturising texture and is relatively light in pigment; we’d say it’s closer to a tinted balm than a lipstick. As the colour is light and buildable, you can go with quite a smudgy finish (no need for clean lines around the edges of the lips), and build up the intensity of colour in the centre of your mouth, for that just-bitten, stained look. A natural, your-lips-but-better choice.
Milky jelly cleanser
This cleanser has a gel texture that goes a little milky when water is added (hence the name) and is non-foaming so isn’t drying. We’d recommend it for a second cleanse if you’re wearing make-up (it’s not strong enough to tackle foundation and heavy eye make-up), or – our favourite – as a morning cleanse. There are no revelatory ingredients here, but it’s a good cleanser and a bit of a bargain; we’d especially recommend it for teens’ first forays into skincare.
This is quite a light mascara by our standards: it adds colour to the lighter tips of your lashes and catches every little hair, but doesn’t pile on the volume. A couple of coats gives a natural, everyday look – enough to open and define your eyes, but no clumping or spideriness – and it locks in shape well, so your lashes stay lifted. We love the flexible, dainty wand too, for getting right into the base of lashes.
It might be less well-known than its sister product, boy brow, but brow flick is our favourite of the two. A brow pen gives a more natural yet striking finish to a pencil: its fine pen tip allows you to draw on individual hairs, rather than simply filling in a block colour. This performs like many of our more expensive favourites, from brands such as Anastasia Beverly Hills and Kevyn Aucoin, but is much more affordable.
Skywash was a new launch for Glossier last year, and we much prefer it to the brand’s cult, glossy Lidstar. It’s a fairly sheer, matte liquid eyeshadow that you run over your lids with a doe foot applicator and blend out with your fingers. It goes on a little glossy but soon dries down a light, almost powdery finish. Go for the brights – “lawn”, a yellowy green, or “pool”, a lavender blue – or for the warm peach, “valley”, which gives a healthy, summer-holiday glow. Better yet, blend two: we like to wash our lids with “valley” and then run the mid-brown “echo” along the lash line, smudging the two together.
Those who love Dr Paw Paw’s do-it-all balm will be similarly drawn to this, a thick, sticky balm that is incredibly handy to throw in your handbag. Use it on lips, elbows, cuticles, even dry knuckles, for immediate and long-lasting relief from dryness and flaking. The clear, original version is the most versatile, but there’s also flavoured, tinted options if you prefer to use it solely on your lips. The jammy “berry burst” shade is our favourite.
This is another great choice for teens – though not so budget – as it contains ingredients we’d look for when greasiness and congestion are the main skin concerns: marine extract, which helps minimise shine, niacinamide for clarity, and smoothing willow bark and bamboo. It’s a lightweight, unfussy, fragrance-free formula that absorbs quickly leaving a smooth finish and minimal tackiness – a great base for make-up.
The verdict: Best of Glossier
When it comes to skincare, there are better places to spend your money than Glossier, though we would recommend it as a great entry-level brand, particularly for teens or those who want zero-research simplicity. The real winners here are the make-up products, and there are some that are truly deserving of their cult status for being far cheaper than luxe competitor brands. Cloud paint is our favourite, for a low-maintenance, all-day flush. Pair it with the strong brow duo of boy brow and brow flick for striking but still natural brows, and forgo the rest for that barely there, effortless look that Glossier is known for.
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For more beauty favourites from cult brands, read our round-up of the best Pat McGrath Labs products
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