Beauty is having a jelly moment

Milk Makeup’s jelly tint, Rhode Skin’s jellybean lip gloss and MAC’s jelly highlighter… we’re headed back to the ‘00s

Hero image in post
Hero image in post

Milk Makeup’s jelly tint, Rhode Skin’s jellybean lip gloss and MAC’s jelly highlighter… we’re headed back to the ‘00s

By Darshita Goyal02 Feb 2024
4 mins read time
4 mins read time

Imagine you’re scrolling through your FYP and you spot red jelly in a makeup stick. When the creator touches it, the whole product wobbles like a happy TellyTubby. Then she applies it to her skin and you realise it’s not a toy, it actually blends, builds and pigments like a regular blush. Of course, you’re hooked.

If you’ve been on #BeautyTok in the last 48 hours, you’ve probably seen several videos like this. Nope, this isn’t stolen from a doll’s house or a kid’s candy bag, it’s Milk Makeup’s new line of blushes, the Cooling Water Jelly Tint. Available in four shades – poppy pink, coral, red and berry – the blush has already entered the internet hall of fame for looking (quite literally) like a dopamine-inducing stick of jelly.

While one creator called the blush “the coolest thing” she’s ever seen, another did what we all wanted to and took a bite out of it, because how can you resist? It feels like jelly, looks like jelly, even smells like jelly but it’s not meant to be eaten. This intrigue was presumably the exact reaction Milk Makeup was hoping to cause with this launch. The beauty brand even swapped out its classic see-through, matte packaging and instead used pastel-coloured plastic for the new blushes, adding another layer of fun and games.

But Milk isn’t the only beauty brand playing with jelly. In January, M.A.C brought back its ‘90s Jelly Slime All-Over Highlighter, a hyper-pigmented, metallic formula that doubles as an eyeshadow. At the tail end of 2023, Hailey Bieber’s Rhode Skin celebrated the founder’s 27th birthday by releasing their popular peptide lip treatment in a limited edition jellybean flavour. Yet again, a horde of beauty creators received these shimmery, baby pink lip colours packaged in bubble-like jelly pouches to swatch and review.

While Bieber’s formula didn’t quite look like jelly, it smelled like it. The jellybean peptide became the first Rhode lip product to come with a fragrance and it didn’t go unnoticed. In her review, creator @Briohni said the lip gloss “smells like childhood”, while others compared it to Y2K cult fave Kissing Fruit Gloss. If Bieber’s It-girl endorsement wasn’t heady enough, the squishable candy also came front and centre in Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster’s new collection, Gentle Jelly.

Featuring five styles inspired by gummies and candy, the sunglasses collection arrived in extra-large jelly bags, taking you right back to those good old trick-or-treat days of the teenage past. Although skincare has been into jelly for a bit – think Glossier’s Milky Jelly formula and Byoma’s Creamy Jelly cleanser – this love for candy is new in the beauty space and shows no signs of waning. In its 2024 trend report, Pinterest predicted that Gen Z and Millennials will bring back the squishable aesthetic inspired by iridescent jelly. The search for “jellyfish hat” increased by 220 per cent, while “jellyfish hair” rose by 615 per cent.

So why is jelly everywhere? For starters, the wibbly, wobbly dessert makes you forget (at least momentarily) about all that’s wrong with the world. It transports people back to a dreamy childhood where the biggest decision was to pick which gummies you wanted for the day – a time of carefree innocence and joy. Jelly isn’t isolated in this return to pre-adolescence; the stratospheric rise of bows, Sonic Angels, Jellycat plushies and the Cute exhibition at Somerset House all point to the same sweet movement.

In the midst of never-ending wars and anxiety-inducing climate crises, these nostalgic, dopamine-rich strands can make the everyday feel a little easier. Let’s not forget that young people today seek engagement and interaction in every process. They work to calming videos of Lofi Girl and watch celebrities do ASMR as entertainment. So a blush that jiggles and squishes helps make the daily makeup routine feel more mindful and personal.

As Canvas8’s insights editor J’Nae Philips tells woo, “jelly formulations can be pleasing, immersive and interactive. By adding a playful sensorial element, they help brands capitalise on the intimate connection between touch and beauty.” It would be remiss not to mention the hyper-consumerist intention that informs the jelly trend. At a time when we’re inundated by products that look and feel the same, brands are counting on newness to hold a customer’s attention.

A beauty product that looks like jelly is an instant conversation starter. You want to use it but you also want to post about it, making it more shoppable. Whether you’re drawn to jelly beauty for its wobbles and dopamine or for a trip down memory lane, the return of the squish is only just beginning. Our predictions for more jelly in 2024? Squeezable jelly water bottles, jelly bean bags and more jelly jewellery.