I Was Tired of Cleansers Irritating My Skin—Until This One Changed My Mind

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser Hero

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

We purchased Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.

Finding the right face wash for my reactive, sensitive skin has been an ongoing challenge. In my teen years, I wasn't trying nearly as many new products as I am now, and thanks to genetics, I had zero breakouts until I hit my mid-twenties (hello, hormonal acne). Given this development, I was trying new products weekly, if not daily, to get rid of the breakouts that were making me want to hide. I always started by switching my face wash, but several of the ones I tried contained harsh chemicals like benzoyl peroxide—which ultimately left my skin dry, scaly, and more irritated.

When it comes to choosing a cleanser, it's advised that you take into account your own skin sensitivities and allergies, and, of course, this differs from person to person. "Most cleansers on the market are actually very safe, but people who have sensitive skin should avoid those with lots of surfactant or foaming," according to Dr. Rachel Nazarian, a board-certified dermatologist. "This tends to strip too much of our natural hydrators and can make skin too dry."

So when I heard about Glossier's bestselling Milky Jelly Cleanser, I was intrigued, to say the least. One of the brand's buzziest launches, beauty editors and influencers alike swear by its ability to cleanse the skin and remove makeup without irritating the skin. But did it really live up to the hype? Read on to find out.

Meet the Expert

Rachel Nazarian, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. She specializes in cosmetic treatments, skin cancer, and dermatologic surgery.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

Star Rating: 4.8 / 5

Best for: All skin types

Uses: Cleansing, removing facial makeup 

Active Ingredients: Poloxamer, rose water, comfrey root extract, aquaxyl, pro-vitamin B5

Byrdie Clean?: Yes

Price: $18

About the Brand: Glossier is known for its millennial-friendly skincare and cosmetic products that give you an effortless, no-makeup look.

About My Skin: Hormonal acne, reactive, and combination 

I've already talked a little about my skin's hormonal breakouts, but one other issue I have is that my skin tends to react to new products. (As I write this, I'm having an adverse reaction to a facial oil I added to my routine.)

Since you have a snapshot of my skincare habits, you know, I had to add a new cleanser to the mix. I do know that with a face wash, I should always be on the lookout for these terms: pH-balanced, non-comedogenic, and soothing—and Glossier's cleanser checks all those boxes.

Milky Jelly Cleanser
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser $18
Shop

Ingredients: Packed with skin-soothers

Poloxamer: The hero ingredient of this formula is poloxamer, which is a gentle cleansing agent usually found in contact lens solution. Translation: It's safe for the eye area (and the formula is ophthalmologist-tested, too).

Allantoin: This ingredient is naturally found in the body but can be extracted from comfrey (which is Glossier's source) and is used topically to soothe dry, irritated skin.

Pro-Vitamin B5: If you see pantothenic acid on the ingredients list, be prepared to absorb the benefits—pun intended. "Pantothenic is simply a form of Vitamin B5," according to Dr. Nazarian. "When used topically it can offset some of the drying effects by cleansers, and help maintain the integrity of the skin barrier."

Rose water: Rose water has been a beauty staple in cultures around the world for centuries. The benefits include balancing and hydrating the skin; it's also soothing, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Aquaxyl: Simply put, aquaxyl, which you might also see listed as xylitylglucoside, is an ingredient that is commonly used in moisterizers. The Milky Jelly Cleanser is formulated with this water-friendly ingredient to ensure skin doesn't get dehydrated.

The Feel: The texture is creamy and light 

With this jelly, a little goes a long way, so you can start with one pump and apply more as you need it. One other thing that pleasantly surprised me was how clean it rinsed. There was no oily residue left behind. 

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
 Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

The Scent: A hint of rose

Dr. Nazarian usually recommends that all her patients use unscented cleansers. "Added perfumes and scents do nothing to make the cleanser more effective, and only increase the risk of irritation and allergy," she says.

While this product doesn't contain artificial fragrance, it does have a nice light rose scent, thanks to the rose water. I loved this because it didn't bother my skin or allergies yet still smelled nice and fresh.

The Results: Clean skin sans irritation

On my first wash, I started with two pumps on dry skin. I massaged it in for a couple of minutes, and let it sit as I brushed my teeth to help break up the full-coverage foundation I'd applied that morning. Since the Milky Jelly formula is made with poloxamer, the same cleansing agent used in contact lens solution, I opened my eyes to see if the jelly would burn my eyes. I felt no burn, which was a pleasant surprise.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
 Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

Next, I rinsed it off with my hands, rubbing as I rinsed, like Emily Weiss, Glossier's founder, suggested in her how-to video on YouTube. Now it was time for a white cloth check. I was on the road and didn't have a fresh white cloth handy, so I used a cotton pad, and to my surprise, most of the makeup was gone! I am a double cleanser, so I did one more wash, and my skin was clean, but without a tight feeling. 

The Packaging: Pretty but not sustainable (yet) 

Climate change is real—and sadly, in some ways, the beauty industry is negatively impacting our planet. With that in mind, I am now more mindful of product packaging. Glossier's packaging has been controversial as its pink bubble wrap mailers and stickers aren't recyclable. However, the company has been listening to its consumers and has added a "less packaging" option stating that orders won't include a pink pouch, seasonal sticker, or any extras. (Personally, my take on this might be hot, but I enjoy the pink bubble mailer. I have repurposed it as storage for my computer, camera, and phone chargers.)

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
 Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

The Value: Worth it

After just a week of using the Milky Jelly Cleanser on my dehydrated, inflamed skin, I understand why it has so many stellar reviews. A cleanser can't change your skin overnight, but the calming ingredients in the Milky Jelly were essential to getting my skin back on track while cleansing and removing my makeup at the same time.

What I love about this product in particular, though, is you can give it a try before splurging on the full-size bottle—the brand offers both a 2-ounce mini bottle for $9 and a 6-ounce full-size option for $18. Not to mention, a little jelly goes a long way, even on a full face of makeup. I needed two pumps max to get my full-coverage foundation off with the help of a warm white towel.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
 Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

Similar Products: You have options

e.l.f. Cosmetics Bounce Back Jelly Cleanser: I understand that $18 can feel like a hefty investment for a cleanser, so dupes are always a welcome option. This jelly cleanser, which retails for $6, is a budget-friendly cleanser and is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. But, if you're sensitive to fragrance, you may want to spot-test this formula since fragrance is an added ingredient. 

Bliss Makeup Melt Jelly Cleanser: Like the Milky Jelly Cleanser, Bliss' Melt Jelly ($13) is a universal cleanser that can cleanse the skin while removing makeup—and best of all, it's fragrance-free. 

Our Verdict: It's worth it

The Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser is a product that looks great on the bathroom sink and leaves even the most sensitive skin feeling clean and balanced.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Savić VLj, Nikolić VD, Arsić IA, et al. Comparative study of the biological activity of allantoin and aqueous extract of the comfrey rootPhytother Res. 2015;29(8):1117-1122. doi:10.1002/ptr.5356

  2. Stettler H, Kurka P, Wagner C, et al. A new topical panthenol-containing emollient: skin-moisturizing effect following single and prolonged usage in healthy adults, and tolerability in healthy infantsJ Dermatolog Treat. 2017;28(3):251-257. doi:10.1080/09546634.2016.1218417

  3. Boskabady MH, Shafei MN, Saberi Z, Amini S. Pharmacological effects of rosa damascenaIran J Basic Med Sci. 2011;14(4):295-307.

Related Stories