Tuesday, August 8, 2017

REVIEW: Glossier Wowder + All Shades Swatched

So Glossier tried some sneakier marketing, and I don't know if it worked out the way they expected. Between the name of the product (which has been trademarked for the past year) and the brand's usual font on their "teaser" website, the internet immediately sussed out that "Wowder" was a Glossier product. But while the tactic may not have worked the way the brand expected, it did kick up a lot of interest. The day this product launched, for example, I noticed half a dozen posts on various forums asking if anybody was buying Wowder or had tested it. And on that day, after I'd woken up and settled in with my coffee, I did indeed buy it.

I bought all three shades using my store credit.

And the brush.

And I had them shipped to me via next day air.

I was intrigued by this product and very eager to try it, despite the fact that there's only ever been one powder I've loved on my like-the-deserts-miss-the-rain skin.

Hey, I admit to being a bitch about marketing ploys, but I've never claimed that I'm totally immune to them.

Since I've mentioned the brush twice and I'm not a brush expert by any means, let's just get it out of the way. It wasn't specially designed for Wowder; it was made in China and is a basic, dense powder brush with a "G" on the end, so it's likely a private label product the company liked. The bristles are synthetic and they're very soft. For comparison, I'd say that this brush is similar in shape to the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, but it's a little less dense, and it's not as fluffy or huge as most powder brushes. Basically, it's a perfectly decent brush that's worth it if you don't have a lot of brushes and you're purchasing the Wowder duo. However, if you have a powder brush you like? You probably don't need it.

Let's move on to the powder itself. Wowder is a loose powder that Glossier claims will give you "that glowy, real-skin finish, just without all the drawbacks of other powders." In other words, it'll be mattifying without being cakey or flat, smoothing without looking white in flash photos, and workable on both bare skin and over foundation. It's $22 for 0.25 ounces of product (or $35 for the powder and the brush) housed in a plastic container with a "trampoline mesh" insert and a screwtop lid.

Some people have complained about Wowder's packaging, saying it's not as "clean" or "elegant" as their other products. The jar may look like Benefit's cash poor, hipster cousin, but I don't think it's completely off-brand. Besides, the fact that Glossier sends you stickers to slap all over their products and never seems to use a model over the age of 30 suggests that they aren't striving for that grown up, sleek-and-chic image like NARS or Lancome.

That quarter of an ounce size has raised some eyebrows as well, and justifiably so--it's kind of tiny. When I compared the cost per ounce of Wowder to a slew of other loose powders, however, I noticed that it was middle of the road. Here they are, ranked from most expensive to cheapest:

Kevyn Aucoin Gossamer Loose Setting Powder, $72 for 0.11oz = $654.55/ounce
Makeup Forever Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder, $36 for 0.29oz = $124.14/ounce
RMS Beauty Tinted Un-Powder, $34 for 0.32oz = $106.25/ounce
NARS Soft Velvet Loose Powder, $37 for 0.35oz = $105.71/ounce
Besame Brightening Setting Face Powder, $22 for 0.21oz = $104.76/ounce
Koh Gen Do Natural Lighting Powder, $42 for 0.42oz = $100/ounce
CoverFX Perfecting Setting Powder, $35 for 0.35oz = $100/ounce
Glossier Wowder, $22 for 0.25oz = $88/ounce
Armani Micro-Fil Loose Powder, $45 for 0.53oz = $84.91/ounce
Bare Minerals Mineral Veil, $23 for 0.3oz = $76.67/ounce
Kat Von D Lock-It Setting Powder, $30 for 0.67oz = $44.78/ounce
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $38/ounce
Cinema Secrets Ultralucent Setting Powder, $22 for 0.67oz = $32.84/ounce
MAC Studio Finish Face Powder, $28 for 1.4oz = $20/ounce
L'Oreal Hydra Perfecte Powder, $8.97 for 0.5oz = $17.94/ounce
CoverGirl Translucent Professional Loose Powder, $5.85 for 0.7oz = $8.34/ounce
Coty Airspun Translucent Powder, $5.90 for 2.3oz = $2.60/ounce

Obviously, Coty Airspun is cheap as fuck, Laura Mercier Translucent is a better deal than people give it credit for, and Kevyn Aucoin Gossamer will rob you of your next iPhone. Taken as a whole, though, I don't think the price for Wowder is awful. A bit higher than it probably should be? Yes. Exorbitant and completely out of touch with average makeup costs? Eh, not really.

I'll also point out that the trampoline mesh does, in all fairness, keep you from losing too much powder every time you open the jar or swirl your brush. The one exception is when you open a brand new jar and peel off the sanitary sticker; two of my three Wowder jars blew out little spurts of powder as I peeled back that sticker. But overall, you shouldn't have too much powder waste.

Wowder was produced in three shades, and you're meant to select whatever color corresponds to your Perfecting Skin Tint or Stretch Concealer shade: Light/Medium, Dark/Deep, and Rich. Again, I purchased all three colors and used Light/Medium on my own fair skin. The other two shades were swatched up against some medium-to-deep foundation and concealer samples I've collected.

 For swatching purposes, I applied the tiniest bit of Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream to my arm to get the powder to stick and marked the swatch with some Milani Liquid Eyes eyeliner. As far as I can see, this did not impact the color accuracy of the swatches. I'm very fair, so please don't judge the depth of Dark/Deep and Rich by how dark they look on my arm; use the other shades as markers instead. In all of these swatches, the natural light photo is on top and the flash photo is on the bottom.


From left to right: NARS Sheer Glow in Siberia; Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint in Sand; Colourpop No Filter Concealer in Fair 5; Glossier Wowder in Light/Medium; Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation in 001; Deciem The Ordinary Coverage Foundation in 1.0N; Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Light Warm.


From left to right: Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint in Medium; YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat in Cool Bisque; Glossier Wowder in Dark/Deep; Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Medium Light; Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation in 002 and 301.


From left to right: Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint in Deep; Colourpop No Filter Concealer in Rich 75; Glossier Wowder in Rich; Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation in 302 and 303; Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Dark Golden.

This is a fairly inclusive shade range. I do wish Rich was a hair deeper, but Jackie Aina (linked above) was able to use it as a sort of natural contour powder on her skin, so perhaps I'm being overly picky. I will say that all of the shades read very neutral to me, though the product is (as I will show in a moment) so sheer that I don't think it'll matter much.

Now the ingredients! Glossier has done their usual "IT'S REVOLUTIONARY!" marketing ploy by claiming that Wowder is "not a powder" and is "unlike any powder you've met before." (Which, if it's NOT a powder, how are you comparing it to powders you've used BEFORE? I'm being a pedant. I'll stop. Sorry.) The truth is that Wowder contains many of the usual loose powder suspects: mica, silica, and kaolin top the list, and titanium dioxide and several iron oxides pull up the rear. Yet again, I wish Glossier would stop pretending their products are fresh, top-of-the-line formulations and instead focus on how easy and no-fuss their range is for the average consumer.

The one ingredient that concerned me, personally, was kaolin, which can suck the moisture from my already parched skin. I've used this product for about a week and haven't had any problems with this drying out my face or making me itchy. Also, it doesn't contain any of my acne triggers, but keep an eye out for your problem ingredients.

Sorry about the fucked up eyebrows. I was testing out a new technique.

 To demonstrate Wowder's texture, I decided to do most of this post's photos on a no-foundation day. I used the Wowder brush to apply a dusting of Light/Medium to my forehead, nose, and chin. The above before-and-after pictures look almost identical, right? You have to click on the picture and expand it to see a difference, don't you?

Yeah, that's not shocking. While Wowder does manage to mattify and smooth the skin a bit, it's a very subtle effect. This is clearly what the company wanted, and I won't deny that I'm happy with how much my skin still looks like skin. But if you're expecting dramatic results, you're not going to get it with this powder. It's very much a Glossier product, designed to be super sheer and natural. Here's a macro shot of my skin with a layer of the powder on top so you can see how seamlessly it applied:

So yeah, it's pretty on bare skin. It also looked nice on top of my staple foundations, MAC Face & Body and Buxom Show Some Skin. Wowder sounds like a wonder product so far.

But I noticed some issues with this powder over other base products. Specifically, it seems to cake up a bit over foundations and concealers that are more matte or have thicker formulations.

In the picture above, I applied MAC Face & Body all over my face, then used my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer wherever necessary, which on this day included my chin. It's a bit tough to see, but take a peek at the section of skin I boxed in: that's Wowder clinging to, and getting flaky on, my NARS concealer. I also tested this on my mother's base products, and while Wowder looked lovely over her Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (sheer and dewy), it went weirdly ashen over the IT Cosmetics CC Cream (medium coverage and satin).

Another issue with Wowder is the staying power. It's comfortable and satin-y on the dry parts of my face for about 3-4 hours before disappearing, and it only keeps my oily nose matte for about 2 hours before I have to reapply or blot. It does layer beautifully, insofar as reapplying the powder over oil breakthrough gives you the same smooth, soft look, but let's be honest: how many people are going to carry around a loose powder for touch-ups? And even if you're like me and you keep blotting sheets in your purse, shouldn't you get more than 3 hours out of a mattifying product?

Figuring out what to rate this product was a struggle. I do really enjoy it for my skin type and the looks I usually do, and it's a nice finishing touch on my no foundation days. I can see me using up the whole jar. But giving it a high rating just didn't feel right. After mulling it over, I realized the issue: I wouldn't recommend this to a lot of other people. If you have combination or oily skin, I can't imagine Wowder beating out your other loose powders, and it may cake up over your other base products if your taste in formulas is different from mine. If you have dry skin and you want a matte powder, I'm more likely to suggest the Dolce & Gabbana powder foundation I love so much, since it gives a matte finish with more coverage, better staying power, and a consistently smooth texture.

In the end, Glossier has done worse. They've also done better. Wowder is a decent powder, but it certainly doesn't (are you ready for it?) wow me like I hoped it would.

RATING: 3 out of 5
Glossier products are available on their website.


  1. Good luck with your make-up. Greetings from the UK.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

  2. So, it's a translucent powder. Revolutionary. Their marketing is so annoying. It is nice that it comes in so many shades, though--usually translucent means just one medium-light beige color.

  3. The name and packaging really do give me Benefit vibes. Sounds like this product is pretty much what I expected - nice enough but not groundbreaking. It's funny, I thought I might make a Glossier order when they started shipping here last month, but I looked through the whole site and I was pretty "meh" on everything. Maybe the branding really has turned me completely off (though I do still love the Haloscope).

    1. If you do order, may I recommend the Cloud Paints and Milky Jelly Cleanser? They're lovely.

  4. I love this review and how detailed you are! I see that you swarched some of Colourpop's concealers. Are you going to review those? Thanks!

  5. This was such a good, detailed review!

  6. I think it's perfect for no foundation days. Gives a slightly more finished look to the face!

  7. Loving the detailed review!! I picked this up in light/ medium and have been using it to set my under eyes. I like that it does look like skin and doesn't look cakey on me. Totally agree that it's not something super revolutionary as it does have a lot of the same ingredients as regular powders.

  8. Just curious, have you tried the By Terry hydra powder yet? I remember seeing a redditor raving about it in muacjdiscussion. Similarly, I think the ITG crew raved about Moonshot powder before they released Wowder. Both the By Terry and moonshot claims to be not cakey looking.

    1. Unfortunately, By Terry is a little out of my price range at the moment.

  9. Thank you for the review. I so wanted to pick this up in 'Rich' but am now even less convinces that I want to pay the $$$ to be underwhelmed! Ha!

  10. I've been on the fence between Laura and Wowder. Thanks so much for this review!