7 Days of Glossier, Day 3: Milky Jelly Cleanser

I purchased this product with store credit earned through my Glossier referral link. Thank you to everyone who has clicked my link and helped me buy products to review!

Having tried a range of Glossier products over the past three years, I feel comfortable making a pretty bold generalization: their makeup is better than their skincare. For a brand whose motto is “skin first, makeup second,” Glossier sure has released an underwhelming series of skincare products, and I’m far from the first blogger to express this opinion. I’ve read many reviews that criticize Glossier’s masks, moisturizers, serums, and $18 rosewater. But reviewers always seem to mention one exception to this rule: Milky Jelly Cleanser. Even people who want to hate Milky Jelly seem to love it. So I was pretty excited to try it for myself. I was especially curious how it would stand up to my usual cleanser, CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, which also has a translucent gel formula. This post will be partly a review of Milky Jelly on its own terms and partly a comparison with CeraVe. I find skincare reviews more helpful when a new product is assessed against a familiar, widely available product, and I hope others feel the same!

When I removed Milky Jelly from the jumbo bubble pouch in which it was shipped (it doesn’t come in a box), what struck me first was its smallness. It’s one thing to read that a cleanser is 6 fl. oz., and another thing to see it. In the photo below, it looks barely larger than the makeup!

Clockwise from top: Milky Jelly, Cloud Paint in Haze, Haloscope in Quartz, Perfecting Skin Tint in Light.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser is about $13 (depending on the store) for 12 fl. oz, or just over $1 per ounce. Milky Jelly is $18 for 6 fl. oz.: that’s $3 per ounce, or three times the price of CeraVe by volume. However, I can safely say that the Milky Jelly bottle is at least three times more attractive. I wish CeraVe would realize that “developed with dermatologists” doesn’t have to mean “aggressively ugly.”

Whereas the plastic of the CeraVe bottle is very rigid, the Milky Jelly bottle has a bit more give. Both bottles have locking pumps, but the Milky Jelly pump is awkwardly short. Instead of pumping the product into my hand while the bottle is on a flat surface, I have to lift the bottle and hold it over my hand. Not a big deal; just a little inconvenient.

Formula-wise, Milky Jelly is more different from the CeraVe cleanser than I expected. CeraVe is runnier and more opaque, while Milky Jelly is cloudier and squishier. It has a really pleasing texture. Here’s a dollop of Milky Jelly (left) next to one of CeraVe (right):

Milky Jelly’s most impressive attribute is its fragrance. I love rose scents in general, but this one is especially addictive. It’s not very strong, but it smells distinctly like Indian sweets: natural rosewater with the faintest hint of almond. I can’t get enough.

I bought these at Mithaas in Edison, NJ.

I use the CeraVe cleanser twice a day: on its own in the morning, and as a second cleanse in the evening, after I remove my makeup with an oil cleanser. I intended to use Milky Jelly for the same purpose and didn’t expect it to take off my makeup on its own. Glossier once posted an unintentionally hilarious Instagram ad for Milky Jelly: a video of someone using the cleanser to remove eyeliner, but the eyeliner was on her hand, and she really had to scrub to remove it. Dozens of followers called out Glossier on their bullshit, and the ad disappeared. But Glossier still advertises Milky Jelly as “the ultimate face wash…to dissolve away makeup and grime.” Yeah, no. My everyday makeup is more Glossier-style than Insta-glam, but a water-based cleanser isn’t enough to remove my eyeshadow and pencil eyeliner. I wish Glossier would stop making this claim, because Milky Jelly functions perfectly well as a morning and second cleanse.

Well, I thought it functioned perfectly well for that purpose. I looked forward to washing my face every morning, which was no small thing in late January, when everything felt bleak and it seemed that winter would never end. Then, after a week of twice-daily use, I noticed that my skin was breaking out. Now, I can’t be completely sure that Milky Jelly caused the breakout, since it was around the time of the month when I usually get a couple of hormonal pimples. But this breakout was more severe than usual, and Milky Jelly was the only possible skincare culprit. (I’d also been testing Glossier Solution on one side of my face, but the breakout was all over.) I stopped using Milky Jelly and my skin cleared up within a few days. This was heartbreaking, guys. I’d bonded with Milky Jelly! I’d planned to give it 4.5/5 stars (minus a half-star for size)! But it was not to be.

Luckily, this story has a happy ending. Glossier’s excellent customer service came through yet again: I sent them an email asking if I could return Milky Jelly for a refund in store credit, and they immediately refunded the price of the cleanser to my credit card, no questions asked. As much as I snark on Glossier, I’m consistently impressed with their customer service—this is how you keep people coming back! Plus, I discovered yesterday that Milky Jelly makes a decent substitute for shaving cream, so perhaps I’ll finish this bottle yet.

Would I repurchase this product at full price? No, but I seem to be very much in the minority in my adverse reaction.

Grade: 2/5 fresh-faced Danish models.

12 thoughts on “7 Days of Glossier, Day 3: Milky Jelly Cleanser

  1. Another wonderful review! I agree with your complaints about CeraVe’s packaging being aggressively ugly haha. It’s a shame that it seems to have caused breakouts, but I honestly much prefer Glossier’s makeup to their skincare as well so it doesn’t surprise me too much.


  2. Thanks for the comparison photos! I had no idea how small it was, either. I mean, I can read, but I always gloss over (heh heh) product sizes or don't totally recognize them until I see something in person or next to another product.


  3. Ooh, yeah, that pump does look way too short. I mean, I'm fine with squeezing cleanser out of a tube or whatever, but isn't half the point of a pump that you can do it one-handed? That seems like a very poor packaging choice!I also had no idea that this cleanser was so small. I admit that in the first wave of hype after it was released I really wanted it, but now I'm glad I skipped out. I'll stick to my Marcelle gel cleanser, which is $13 CAD for twice the size…. and I totally repurpose stuff I don't like as shaving cream. Conditioner that made my hair greasy? Great, I will use it on my legs. No use in wasting things!


  4. I recently went to the Glossier showroom for the first time. I left still not particularly interested in buying any of their products, but very impressed with the cohesiveness of their brand and attention to detail. You could maybe steam the label off the CeraVe and put stickers on it? I use the Cosrx Good Morning face cleanser and the colors of the tube always make me happy. Good packaging is so important imo.


  5. I wonder if the people in charge of graphic design at CeraVe think their products look more \”respectable\” or \”scientific\” with those ugly labels. I mean, that probably does help CeraVe maintain its status as the drugstore brand for discerning skincare geeks, but there HAS to be a better way.


  6. Isn't Glossier's whole THING that they put each product through a zillion trials and solicit lots of consumer feedback? I can't imagine no one objected to the shortness of the pump. How much more expensive could it be to add, like, two centimeters of plastic to each pump??I can't remember the last time I bought actual shaving cream. I think it's more of a racket than eye cream (though I don't have much hair on my legs to begin with, so).


  7. Can you believe I've still never been to the Glossier showroom (just call it a \”store,\” guys)? I need to do it at some point, since I think Glossier encapsulates millennial consumer culture just as Biba encapsulated '70s consumer culture, and I want to say I was there, you know? But then I think, ehhhh, I'm just going to be creeped out by the blush-pink cult-like vibe and the hordes of college girls taking selfies, and I tell myself I'll go next time I'm in NYC.I swear I'll go next time I'm in NYC, though! I swear.I might decant my CeraVe into a pretty glass pump bottle. It really lifts my mood when the packaging on my everyday beauty products is pretty as well as functional, which is one of the reasons I was so sad when Milky Jelly didn't work out!


  8. I found it really drying too. I didn’t get breakouts but my skin felt tight and a bit irritated and it stung my eyes. I have oily combo skin but it’s sensitive so I think it was just irritation.


  9. Man I wish they would remove any of the ridiculous claims that it'll break down makeup. Glossier Milky Jelly doesn't even remove other Glossier products! As a rose-hating individual, I wasn't keen on the scent but I did like the feel of the squishy milky gel. It was hype that did me in, definitely not a repurchase.


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