When I worked at Sephora no one had heard of Boscia – that is until Sephora started carrying their blotting paper. I remember getting a free package of their green tea blotting papers and wondered why anyone would pay $10 for their blotting paper when you could just go to your local drugstore and pick up the little blue blotting papers for a fraction of the cost.
Then, I used them. Very quickly they became my go-to for all my blotting needs and I wouldn't even blink before handing $10 of my paycheck back to Sephora (if we're being honest, most of my checks were spent there anyway).
Boscia has come a long way since then. Today, Boscia has an extensive range of products and have become a well-known name in the skincare industry, focusing on combining Japanese skincare with science, while using a more natural approach when it come to their ingredients and removing the use of harsh preservatives.
One of Boscia's most common ingredients in their product lineup is charcoal. Charcoal has become a celebrity in of itself over the last few years – popping up everywhere from skincare, oral care, deodorants, and even smoothie recipes – due to it's proposed detoxifying properties.
Boscia's latest addition to their product line? The Charcoal Jelly Ball Cleanser.
Yes, I said jelly ball...and yes, I had to try it!
What is it?
The Boscia Charcoal Jelly Ball Cleanser ($20) is a face cleanser in a gelatinous ball form. The slightly transparent smokey grey ball is formulated with activated black bamboo charcoal, hinoki oil, and tamarindus indica seed gum.
It claims to gently remove impurities, refine the appearance of pores, and calm, soothe, and hydrate the skin with Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
To cleanse your skin with this cleanser you have a few options: rub the ball on your skin, rub the ball in your hands to create a lather and then apply to your skin, or rub the ball into a cleansing cloth.
The ball itself comes encased in a latex balloon inside of a clear plastic box and rests inside a thin plastic blister pack type of holder. It's basic to the max.
For something so unique to have such underwhelming packaging is incredibly disappointing. Boscia managed to make a product that is meant to feel special look and feel run-of-the-mill.
The jelly ball also comes with a white pick which is meant to pop the protective balloon to release the jelly ball. Well, it didn't work for me. I couldn't get the pick to puncture the balloon and I feared I was going to end up puncturing the jelly ball itself and ruining it. I ended up having to cut the balloon with scissors, all while liquid surrounding the jelly ball began oozing out, bubbling up and making the whole situation a slippery mess.
When the balloon finally popped off, my jelly ball went flying into my sink and bounced around until I caught it. Awesome.
Glad to be done with that, I then pulled out the “holder” from the box which has a little tab at the bottom to expose a hole. This is meant to create a drainage so the jelly ball can dry in the holder and not just sit in a wet puddle.
I hate the packaging. I do. I think this ball sitting in this blister pack plastic looks terrible sitting on my counter and the jelly ball may not be sitting in a puddle, but it sure leaves one on my counter.
I don't love the fact that my jelly ball sits out exposed and even though they say you can put the other half of the blister pack on top, I don't think that one hole at the bottom is adequate to dry the jelly ball without bacteria accumulating. I did try it and the jelly ball took forever to dry. All in all, the entire thing is not exactly sanitary and that really bothers me.
Using the Jelly Ball
I've tried my jelly ball a few ways. I found what works for me is to wet my face, wet the jelly ball, then rub the jelly ball on my skin to get a lather going and then put the jelly ball in it's holder and continue cleansing with my hands.
The jelly ball feels ultra weird when you're rubbing it on your face. It's cooling and fun and there's a novelty to it that I've never experienced before. It feels a little unstable though as you swish it around because it feels like your jelly ball could potentially fall at any moment. It's very slick and there is absolutely no friction to make it feel secure in your hands.
The scent is bizarre to me. It's not a bad scent but it's not fantastic either. It's a little earthy, a little rubbery, and a little herbal all at the same time.
It takes a bit to get a lather going and when it does it's not a bubbly soft lather. It's a little dense and reminds me of a cream gel hybrid cleanser.
To my sensitive skin peeps out there, take note: It does sting a little bit on my irritated chin. I used something that tore my chin up (not sure what it was yet...there's a few contenders) and when I apply this cleanser to that area it stung very noticeably. The jelly ball cleanser has stung less and less as my chin has been healing, but if you have any irritation I'd be cautious about trying this on those areas. I will say though that it hasn't caused more irritation.
It rinses really well, leaving no residue or makeup behind when I've removed my makeup beforehand. I did try it on a full face of makeup and I could see makeup left behind on my towel after drying. So, with the jelly ball I'd recommend using a makeup remover beforehand.
I'm not going to lie, it took a few uses for me to warm up to this cleanser. The first few uses were underwhelming but it has definitely started to grow on me. It leaves my combination skin feeling squeaky clean without feeling too dry. I don't feel like it strips the moisture from my skin which is a huge bonus. Overall, my skin looks pretty bright and fresh after cleansing with the jelly ball.
I haven't noticed a significant change in blackheads or enlarged pores, but I have noticed that my oil production seems to be chilling out. I also think that this cleanser may have accelerated the healing process of my chin and for that I'm extremely grateful.
The most noticeable issue that I have with the jelly ball is not it's effects on my skin (or the packaging), but is the shrinkage. Yep. It shrinks...and quickly. I didn't realize it was happening at first, but after a week of use it's about half the size it was when I first opened it. The ball itself not only gets smaller with use, but it evaporates a little bit every time it dries. Every time I notice it has become smaller than it was before, I am filled with conflicting emotions of annoyance and sadness.
Worth the Hype?
The Boscia Charcoal Jelly Ball Cleanser is a decent cleanser. It performs effectively, my skin responds well to it, and overall it gets the job done.
Is it a life-changing must buy cleanser? No. Even though my skin has started to respond well to it, I don't feel it out performs my go-to cleansers. I haven't seen enough of a difference in pores or blackheads for me to say it lives up to it's claims.
Is it fun to use? Sometimes. I feel like the novelty wore off pretty quickly and the inconvenience of having to deal with the ball itself as an added step, as well the mess it leaves on my counter, prevents me from enjoying it over a length of time.
Would I buy it again? Probably not. As it is, I'd choose not to deal with it again. If Boscia put this cleanser in a tube I'd be more inclined to consider repurchasing. The shrinkage and the exposure aspects are an issue for me. I prefer to use products on my face that aren't potentially exposed to dust or bacteria accumulation.
I don't think it's a practical product as it stands. It's not something you could travel with as it would probably end up smooshed and gross. The plastic holder isn't a sufficient protective barrier to keep it safe from damage either.
It is a gimmicky product but it's also incredibly interesting and different. I enjoy brands that think outside the box and come up with new and exciting ways of using products. I appreciate that the jelly ball is something I've never seen or done before and it's been interesting to use. For what it's worth, I don't regret trying it out at all.
I'm more inclined to recommend it to those with combination and oily skin types as I think it might be a little too stripping for those with dry skin. It's definitely an experience and I completely recommend checking it out if you want to try something new and weird, but I wouldn't say you need to drop what you're doing to go pick it up either.
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Brigid Anderson has been a makeup addict for over 15 years and has worked as a freelance makeup artist and stylist for fashion labels and music videos. When she isn't writing about and using beauty products, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog Ivan, hoarding vintage clothing and vinyl records, and binge watching 'Game of Thrones'...repeatedly.