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Reviewed: Glossier Priming Moisturizer (Will This Light Cream Give You Smooth, Hydrated Skin?)

Find out if it's worth the hype.
Glossier Priming Moisturizer

I'm only a few years late to the party, but I'm FINALLY reviewing Glossier Priming Moisturizer, one of the first products the brand launched with way back in 2014.

It's still a bestseller to this day—and when I realized it's actually fragrance-free and low in silicones (my two biggest skin nemeses), I knew I had to try it.

Read on to find out my honest thoughts (this was purchased by me!), and get answers to all the questions you may have about this cult-favourite cream. 

Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Glossier Priming Moisturizer is a lightweight moisturizer that doubles as primer.

Glossier describes its Priming Moisturizer as offering "light and buildable moisture for a dewy, smooth canvas."

What that means is, first of all, it's a lightweight moisturizer. 

If you've ever tried Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, that's exactly where Glossier got its inspiration. 

(Have you noticed that's the case for most of the products? Lash Slick was inspired by Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara, Stretch Concealer was inspired by RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up, Milky Jelly Cleanser was inspired by La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Gel, and so on.) 

Anyway, Embryolisse is more like a lotion, and the same goes for Glossier Priming Moisturizer. When you open the tube, it looks like a runny cream, becoming even thinner, more fluid and very spreadable as you massage it over your skin.

That said, it's surprisingly nourishing for having a lotion texture, and similar to a foundation, you can build it up in layers if you want more hydration.

What is a Priming Moisturizer?

Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Glossier Priming Moisturizer has a lotion texture.

So you might be wondering... is it a primer or is it a moisturizer?

The internet seems to be conflicted on this point, but I'd say it's more of a moisturizer. (Otherwise it would be called Glossier Moisturizing Primer, right?)

Glossier Priming Moisturizer is primarily going to give you light hydration. 

But unlike most moisturizers, it does so leaving your skin with a very smooth and slightly matte finish—that's where the "priming" part comes in. 

If you wear foundation, it's going to glide more easily over this smooth canvas. And even if you don't, it's still going to mattify and blur your pores a little bit.

You just need to let it sink in for a few minutes after you apply it. Initially, it will look shiny and feel slightly sticky, but don't worry, that goes away!

So think of it as a moisturizer first and foremost, but also as an alternative to conventional primers that are laden with slippery silicones. If you're like me and hate how they look and feel (not to mention how they can clog your pores!), Glossier Priming Moisturizer is a really great product to consider.

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Ingredients 

Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Glossier Priming Moisturizer ingredients.

Here's what's inside Glossier Priming Moisturizer:

Aqua/Water/Eau, Tridecyl Stearate, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Stearic Acid, Propanediol, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Palmitic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Tropaeolum Majus Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Phenyl Trimethicone, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract, Beeswax/Cera Alba/Cire d'Abeille, Mel/Honey Extract/Extrait de Miel, Boswellia Serrata Extract, Phospholipids, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Aspalathus Linearis Leaf Extract, Tetrapeptide-14, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin, Polyacrylamide, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Butylene Glycol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Citric Acid, Cetyl Palmitate, Betaine, Potassium Sorbate, Ceteareth-20, Laureth-7, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.

And here's what to know about the key ingredients:

  • Emollients: Tridecyl stearate, neopentyl glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, stearic acid, tridecyl trimellitate, palmitic acid, shea butter and beeswax are all emollients that moisturize and soften your skin.
  • Humectants: Propanediol, aloe vera, mushroom extract, honey and hyaluronic acid are humectants that attract and retain water. 
  • Antioxidants: Retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C) and tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E) are all antioxidants that may give you a little protection against free radical damage. However, I wouldn't consider this cream to be a substitute for a targeted antioxidant serum with L-ascorbic acid or other potent vitamin C derivatives.
  • Anti-redness complex: Tetrapeptide-14, a redness-reducing peptide, teams up with green tea and honey to calm inflammation.

Notably, Glossier Priming Moisturizer is free of fragrance, essential oils, alcohol, witch hazel and parabens.

It's also low in silicone, since the phenyl trimethicone is only the 10th ingredient. Typically, the first five ingredients represent about 80 percent of a product—anything after that is present in very minimal amounts. My skin hates silicones (they clog me and break me out), but I've had no trouble with this formula!

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Frequently Asked Questions

Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Glossier Priming Moisturizer can be worn both during the day (with sunscreen) or at night.

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From The Skincare Edit Archives

  • Is it oil-free? According to the brand, Glossier Priming Moisturizer is oil-free. However, it does contain shea butter, as well as several synthetically-derived oily emollients.
  • Does it contain retinol? No. Glossier Priming Moisturizer contains retinyl palmitate, a retinol ester. Not only is it the weakest member of the retinoid family, but dermatologists like Dr. Leslie Baumann believe it is topically ineffective. Considering that, as well as the fact that it's the 24th ingredient on the list, it won't give you any of the benefits (or side effects like purging!) that you might experience with full-fledged retinol. At best, it is only going to act as a mild antioxidant. Also, at this low concentration, you don't need to worry about increased sun-sensitivity.
  • Is it good for oily skin? Yes. Because it is so lightweight, Glossier Priming Moisturizer is an ideal moisturizer for normal to oily and combination skin. It also makes a wonderful primer for oily skin, and won't slide off your face like silicone-heavy primers often do.
  • Is it good for sensitive skin? Maybe. On the one hand, Glossier Priming Moisturizer doesn't contain fragrance, essential oils, alcohol or witch hazel—the worst culprits for skin reactions. But some customers have reported itching and burning from using this product. I believe the ceteareth-20 (an emulsifier) could be a possible trigger, as this study has linked it to minimal irritation. If this happens to you, reach out to Glossier, because they are known for having amazing customer service and will likely refund your money.
  • Is it good for acne-prone skin? Maybe. I am acne-prone, and Glossier Priming Moisturizer does not break me out, even when I apply several layers. However, I know others have experienced acne, so proceed with caution. Some customers are blaming the "retinol" (retinyl palmitate) for causing "purging," but I don't think that's the problem here. (The retinyl palmitate is too weak, and in too low a concentration to cause a purge.) I think the oily emollients or the shea butter are more likely triggers. The only way to know for sure is to do a patch test for a few days!
  • Is it cruelty-free? Yes, all Glossier products are cruelty-free.
  • What's the shelf life? Glossier generally recommends that its products be used within three years of manufacture, or within six months after opening.

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Dupes

Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Glossier Priming Moisturizer is fragrance-free, oil-free and paraben-free.

Maybe Glossier Priming Moisturizer didn't quite work for you, or maybe you're looking for a formula with a bit cleaner ingredients. 

Here are the closest dupes I've found, starting with moisturizers:

And here are some alternative primers: 

Of course, Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré is the original dupe, but I would avoid that since it is fragranced, and mineral oil is the second ingredient. Mineral oil is an occlusive petroleum byproduct that forms a barrier on top of your skin (instead of penetrating and actually moisturizing) and can trap other ingredients in your pores, leading to breakouts.

Conclusion + My Results

Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Glossier Priming Moisturizer gives your skin light hydration and a smooth finish.

So, is Glossier Priming Moisturizer worth the hype?

I came into this with low expectations, including the expectation that I would break out. (Just like my traumatic experience with Drunk Elephant not too long ago!)

Fortunately, that didn't happen—even though my skin tends to be rather finicky with creams.

In fact, my skin feels quite GOOD when I use this moisturizer. Plump, supple and hydrated! I'm not sure it does anything for the mild redness I get around my nose and chin, but it does provide just enough moisture for my relatively "normal" skin. And it doesn't feel heavy or make me look greasy.

I've even been using it around my eyes, and have had zero issues with sensitivity (which I usually get with most eye creams).

As for its priming capabilities, it certainly does make my skin feel very smooth and semi-matte, never slippery or powdery. I'm not sure it makes a huge difference with the RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up that I wear most days, but liquid foundations definitely glide on more easily. In terms of prolonging wear, though, I'd still recommend setting your foundation with a translucent powder like ILIA Soft Focus Finishing Powder or a liquid powder spray like Tatcha The Satin Skin Mist.

Best of all, the price is right. At $22 ($27 in Canada), Glossier Priming Moisturizer is cheaper than Embryolisse as well as most drugstore moisturizers with less appealing ingredients lists!

Let me know your thoughts if you try it!

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