First came those white sheet face masks that every influencer worth their salt was wearing in 2018. Now the latest Korean beauty trend has arrived: jelly products. Like sheet masks, they’re fun and they take us right back to our E-number infused childhoods, although these jellies are good for your skin, and rely on water (not gelatine) to deliver their bounce.
But do they work? We tested three of the most popular jelly flavours – sorry, products – to find out.
“It was gentle and effective, and it didn’t ignite my hypersensitive skin”
“I’ve had a 25-year hiatus from jelly, so it was a strange coincidence that at the same time I was writing this story my son was recovering from having had his tonsils removed. It’s safe to say I was well and truly immersed in jelly research.
Tiffany Masterson’s cult ‘clean clinical’ brand Drunk Elephant is a personal favourite (especially the C-Firma Day Serum). All of the brand’s products are free of the ‘suspicious six’: essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical screens, fragrance/dyes and SLSs. The innovative Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser is no different, but it’s the first non-bar cleanser within the range.
I trialled it daily for two weeks, squeezing out an amount the size of a five-cent piece and applying it to my face, on to both wet and dry skin. The coconut-based surfactants (rich in fatty acids) create a foamy lather upon application that dissolves light make up, sunscreen and oils.
All of the brand’s products are free of the ‘suspicious six’
The brand’s hero ingredient, marula oil – which is high in antioxidants and omegas 6 and 9 – boosts the cleaning power while glycerin helps to replenish hydration levels.
The jelly texture reminded me more of a gel and perhaps if the ingredient wasn’t so buzzy in the beauty world at the moment, that’s what it would have been marketed as. Either way, it was gentle and effective, and it didn’t ignite my hypersensitive skin.
My complexion was clean and clear; but after the few occasions I wore heavier make-up, I did need an extra swipe of make-up remover to get rid of every last bit. And while it’s difficult to fault, the cleanser did leave my skin feeling tight post-wash and craving moisture within minutes of cleansing – a feeling I’m not used to with my regular cleanser.”
“As the weather warmed up, so did my feelings about jelly”
PRIMER co-founder Felicity Robinson tested Clinique’s Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly, $49
“Because I’m a conscientious person (some would say obsessive), I started trialling Clinique’s new Hydrating Jelly last October. The weather was cooler in Melbourne back then, with a drying edge to the wind, and I was still using my regular, rich moisturiser morning and night.
This product was very different. Firstly, it’s definitely a jelly – squeeze a centimetre drop onto your hand, move it around, wave and twirl, and the drop stays exactly where it is, bar a slight wobble. (I said I was thorough.)
Rubbed in to the skin, it feels light and cooling, and absorbs quickly. But while I loved it on the delicate skin on my neck, on days I’d been outside for a couple of hours I needed to ‘top up’ with a heavier moisturiser on the dryer areas of my face.
However, as the weather warmed up, so did my feelings towards jelly. Suddenly, the clear formula felt appropriately lightweight and I didn’t get as many breakouts as I sometimes do in summer, probably because it’s oil-free.
Other ingredients include moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid (which is in everything at the moment) and cucumber extract, along with that lesser-known skin-care essential, sunflower seed cake…
You’re meant to use the hydrating jelly as the third step in Clinique’s three-step daily skincare regimen (in this case, following the brand’s Facial Soap and Clarifying Lotion). I didn’t, and perhaps that was a mistake. Perhaps I could have been even more glowing? However, I’m really happy with my jelly-as-moisturiser and I’m sticking with it for the rest of the summer. Down here, that could be two weeks or two months.”
“It left my skin feeling nourished”
PRIMER co-founder Anna Saunders tried Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, $52
“Washing your face with Glow Recipe’s Blueberry Bounce will take you right back to the days of Strawberry Shortcake dolls, winegums and scratch-and-sniff stickers.
In theory a blueberry-scented cleanser that’s reminiscent of middle school should be off-putting. In reality, I loved it.
Glow is known for its Instagram-friendly fruit-powered products (you may have come across Glow’s Watermelon mask once or 2000 times on social media). This cleanser is designed to be a make-up remover and cleanser that doesn’t leave your skin feeling dry, which is no small claim.
I generally avoid any kind of foaming cleanser as they’re too harsh for my skin, but over the fortnight that I used Blueberry Bounce it left my skin feeling nourished rather than stripped and tight. (And it successfully removed even the most difficult-to-budge mascara).
A couple of times a week I followed up with a second multi-tasking jelly product – the Dior Hydra Life Glow Better Jelly Mask, which doubles as a peel and a scrub. Even better, you only have to leave it on for three minutes. Best of all… it worked, bestowing a pleasing radiance, without irritating my skin.
Neither product is cheap – Blueberry Bounce is $52, while Dior’s Hydra Life is $98 – and many people (ahem, our beauty editor, Sherine) might frown on the idea of spending $52 on a cleanser that stays on your face for all of 20 seconds. But if you’re looking to treat yourself (or someone else), I can attest that both worked (at least on me!).”
Photographer: Georgina Egan
Stylist: Jack Milenkovic