Like most beauty bloggers, I assumed Glossier was about due for a "more full-on" makeup range, and I figured Glossier Play would be it. When they launched a range that prompted some excitement and a slew of criticisms, my initial feelings toward the four new cosmetics and two new tools were relatively mild. Yes, I was excited for the highlighters, but my reaction to highlighters is as instinctual and simple as my two-year-old niece's response to french fries. The lack of professional swatches on multiple skintones--something Glossier has been relatively good about for the past few years--leads me to believe that the launch was a little rushed.
All of this said, I received a slew of Instagram messages and emails when this line was announced, so clearly there's been some hype and interest surrounding the range. And frankly, a fun, colorful cache of products I could buy with the store credit you lovely people have earned me (thanks!) couldn't have at come at a better time. Between Kirby fighting a nasty bout of shingles and me being whacked with the depression hammer, the first half of March reminded me just how important fun and relaxation are.
Now, a lot of people have complained that this launch doesn't suit the "Glossier look." I can't entirely agree. For starters, there's a reason why they're launching these products under a sub-brand: they know it's not their usual no-makeup-makeup. But more importantly, this strikes me as "cool girl" party makeup, the kind of stuff naturally pretty people slap on their faces when they go out and want to try something a little different. None of it is designed for precise cut creases or stage-worthy Instaglam looks, and in my opinion, that's very Glossier.
There's also been a lot of debate about the design and environmental impact of these products. This delightful post from Auxiliary Beauty sums up most of my feelings about this. I'll add that I thought the 1970s-as-seen-by-Y2K-teenagers fonts and boxes were very cute. They hit me right in the "oh fuck that was middle school" nostalgia. However, like most people, I think wrapping each product in an extra piece of foil, then putting in to a box, is a wee bit excessive. It's also suspicious to me that Glossier claims they spent two years preparing this brand, yet they didn't think to use biodegradable glitter. Their consumer base is almost all Gen Z and Millenials, and we're groups that tend to worry about climate change and plastic consumption. To their credit, Glossier has listened to the criticisms; they will phase out the foil packets and plan on reformulating their products with biodegradable glitter.
Since I'm ranting, may I also point out that Glossier is STILL doing that "this is so unique and there's nothing like it" marketing, and it just doesn't work for them? Colorful pencil eyeliners and glitter gel have been around for decades, but they're releasing ad copy like this:
For the millionth time: there are more marketing tactics than the appeal to novelty. Customers like me are drawn to how easy and effortless Glossier's range is, and some are drawn to the "cool factor." But I'm not seeing a single, not-a-Glossier-rep person gushing over how "new" and "original" these products are. Play to your strengths, Glossier.
Enough complaining; let's get on to the swatches, looks, and reviews!
As mentioned, Glossier Play was launched with four new makeup products and two tools. The first makeup product is Colorslide, a range of colorful eyeliners. I got five shades: Adult Swim and Disaster Class for day-to-day wear, and Early Girl, Nectar, and Jumbo for experimentation and fun. All of these shades are matte, but there are metallic colors in the range, if that's more your gig. The Colorslide pencils are $15 each.
I've also sharpened them with the Blade sharpener. I get that a sharpener isn't something most people are going to lose their shit over, but this is a pretty nice one at an agreeable $4. It comes with a purple "cleaning stick" that you can twist in the sharpener to clean out the blade.
Next, we have those not-yet-biodegradable Glitter Gelees. I have three of the four shades: Glass Bonsai, Phantasm, and Firewalk. They're all technically suspended in a clear base and are, therefore, meant to be layered or used as sparkle rather than as full-on eyeshadows. But you can see that some of the shades contain a bit more of the fine shimmer, which makes the base seem less clear; this is most obvious with Firewalk. Phantasm, meanwhile, contains no fine shimmer and is all larger, more obvious holographic glitter shapes. Glass Bonsai is somewhere in the middle as far as opacity goes.
The product I was least excited for, shocker of shockers, was the Vinylic Lip. Yes, a liquid lip product in a click pen with a spongey applicator takes me right back to my first order from ELF, I'm not gonna lie. But I'm not a huge gloss person, and I find clicky pens a bit of a pain to use. It took me 41 clicks to get product out of Pony, and a whopping 71 clicks with Baby. I also find Glossier's color descriptions a little weird: Pony is less "taupe" to me and more mauve, and "Baby" reads more like a strawberry pink than a saturated, blue-based red.
By contrast, I was beyond hyped to see that they were releasing more full-on highlighters, because...highlighters. I purchased the two lightest Niteshine shades, the yellow-based Pale Pearl and the pink-based Platinum Rose.
Here are two looks I created with my Glossier Play products. (The only one not shown here is the Glitter Gelee in Glass Bonsai.) On the left, we have my attempt at something a little more full-on. I used the Jumbo and Disaster Class liners as bases, then added Glossier Lidstar in Cub to the center of my eye and topped it with two layers of Firewalk Glitter Gelee. I lined my lower lashline with Nectar. On the whole, I enjoy the eye look:
Yeah, that's frustrating.
In short, you can use these as eyeshadow bases, but it's a real pain in the ass, and some of the shades work better than others. These also take a little more effort to transfer to your waterline as compared to a true gel or khol-type pencil. If you're going to get these, go for the more pastel, interesting shades, like Nectar and Easy Girl, which are perfectly serviceable and can be tough to get in a decent formula. As a whole, though, I don't think these eyeliners are particularly special.
I had much better luck with the Glitter Gelees. Now, some people have complained these glitter gels made a huge mess on their face and left a ton of fallout all over their cheeks. In video reviews that stated this, I noticed that the person would apply the glitter to their eyelid, then immediately start blinking and moving their eyes all over the place. A product like this needs a minute to dry, so just be patient and keep your eye as still as you can right after application. I had absolutely zero glitter fallout or movement from all three Glitter Gelee shades after they'd dried, which sort of stunned me.
For the second, more natural look, I used Easy Girl and Adult Swim on my upper lashline to create a simple, slightly winged eyeliner, then lined my upper waterline with Adult Swim and tapped a bit of Phantasm Glitter Gelee at the corner of my eye. Phantasm is the glitter most people are excited about, and I can see why; it's just really fun and pretty.
For both looks, I used their Detailer to apply the glitter. A silicone applicator is definitely the best way to apply these, since it gives you more control and limits the mess, but you don't have to buy this one. Plenty of other brands make cheap silicone applicators.
Both the Colorslides and Glitter Gelees had great staying power; there was no fallout and minimal fading/smearing throughout the day. I use baby oil and cottons to remove them. The glitter is especially tenacious and should be kept out of your plumbing as much as possible, so you'll probably want to hold the oil-soaked cotton on your skin for a while to loosen it up.
For the more dramatic look, I wanted a super-shiny, very bold, definitely red lip, but I didn't get that with the Vinylic Lip in Baby. In fact, when I tried to layer it, I got only slightly more color, but I also noticed flakes on my lips that I didn't see before--see above. And it still never became "high shine" like Glossier promised. It's a thin, lightweight, decently comfortable formula with a faint strawberry smell. Nothing terrible, nothing to write home about. Frankly, I think Glossier should have produced colored versions of their regular gloss instead, since it is far shinier and more full-on than this formula.
I'll definitely get more use out of Pony, which I used for the softer look. One layer gave me that wearable, work-appropriate mauve shade that's perfect for work.
Last, but not least, we have the Niteshine Highlighter Concentrate. In terms of payoff and shine, I'd say these are like Glossier Haloscopes and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors had a baby: they're shinier and more obvious than the Haloscope, but they manage to do it without being sparkly a la the SSP. It's a nice product with a thin, liquid formula that can be built up. Just make sure you blend them out fast, because they dry within seconds. I'm wearing Platinum Rose on my cheekbones in the full-on look, Pale Pearl on my cheekbones and under my brows in the more natural look.
While I really enjoy these and will get good use out of them, I have two quibbles. First, the shade range is just plain dumb. Platinum Rose and Pale Pearl are almost identical on your skin, and the two darker shades look similarly close. If you're releasing glitter gel and colorful eyeliner, and if your ads are full of disco and rave-inspired shots, you should probably come out with some more interesting colors. A lavender, for instance, would've been an on-trend option. Second, these suffer from the same packaging problems as the Lidstars: the lids are small, smooth, and difficult to turn. Anybody with limited hand mobility is going to have a rough time opening these highlighters.
When it's all said and done, I don't think this launch is as terrible as some people are making it out to be, but I also don't think it's full of products you have to rush out and buy. True, I really love the Glitter Gelees, and I'll use the Niteshine Highlighters regularly. But one of each, tops, will probably be more than enough for most people. And while the Colorslide pencils and Vinylic lips aren't dreadful, they certainly aren't worth it when you have brands like Colourpop producing better stuff at a lower price. If Glossier wants to improve this range, I suggest that they:
- Fulfill their promise to use biodegradable glitter in the Glitter Gelee,
- Improve the shade ranges for several of the products, and
- Focus on creating what their fans have actually been asking for, like a cream bronzer or a tinted moisturizer/foundation with a bit more coverage.
PPS: WHERE IS THAT GODDAMN CANDLE YOU PROMISED, GLOSSIER?!
Note: All of these products were purchased with Glossier store credit earned via an affiliate link. I have not been paid to test, photograph, or write about anything in this post. My reviews are always honest. Actually, Glossier is probably a bit sick of sending me so much free shit, given how poorly I've rated some of their releases. Sorry, guys.