Why this weird K-beauty jelly face primer is my new HG

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with silicone-y primers for the longest time. They either leave my skin feeling like it’s been covered in fast food grease, or cause me to break out into tiny hives on the same day I use them. I recently experienced a bout of  hormonal acne and extra oily skin due to my PCOS though, so I was once again in the market for a primer that didn’t feel like an extra thicc coat of french fry grease.

The Red Jelly Pack was added to the J.One Jelly line just last year. Though the SoKor brand is pretty new to me, it has become a fave among actors and idols alike, including Blackpink’s very own Jisoo! While the original Jelly Pack was marketed as a multi-tasking serum, mask, and makeup primer in one, its red counterpart promises a bouncy, rosy, my-skin-but-better glow with a formula that is PACKED with ceramides and equipped with both pore tightening and complexion brightening properties.

Thus, I began the obsessive careful practice of first researching about my new potential primer partner, precisely because it sounded WAY too good to be true! To add to my skepticism, there wasn’t a lot of material to go on - only a handful of beauty Youtubers have reviewed the red variant. As a member of #TeamOily, I know the first instinct is usually to reach for the most mattifying formula out there. But I found myself coveting that gorgeous #glassskin finish that always seemed out of reach so after a few days of sulking and asking myself if I really needed this, I hit up BeautyMNL where I had spotted this ruby red pump bottle.

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Priced at P1700 for 50ml, I was honestly a little intimidated. There were only 2 reviews on the site, but both were stellar! Described as “a hard-working, versatile formula that primes, brightens, and protects skin”, BeautyMNL goes on to list its notable features and ingredients:

Acts as an ampoule and primer that deeply nourishes as it preps your skin for lasting pigment wear; enriched with powerful, antioxidant-rich red algae (astaxanthin) to combat the signs of aging; purifies, refines, and fortifies with hibiscus, papaya, and raspberry extracts; lightens, smoothens, and soothes with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and moringa seed oil; unique jelly texture plumps up your complexion for improved makeup application.

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I find that a pump and a half is enough for patting onto my face for a full beat. And I deliberately say “patting”, because upon first application, you’ll soon realize that doing it any other way will PROBABLY cause it to pill. The J.One Red Jelly Pack feels oddly like the translucent blue Elmer’s Glue that I used at school as a kid. It’s a strangely nostalgic texture. The clear, almost pinkish gel dries down pretty quickly, creating a clean, tight feeling that I feel helps with the bouncy skin finish. The primer is also hydrating enough that I can skip applying moisturizer before I do my makeup. But I actually wear the J. One Red Jelly Pack both on its own and under foundation!

Bare face

Bare face

On its own, the primer leaves my skin looking significantly brighter - arguably shinier even, but in a way that casts a radiant glow. Despite leaving the house with little to no foundation, I can confidently layer on the rest of my makeup for a subtle, natural look. Powder products like blush and contour don’t cling onto my dry patches either. With this under my favorite Fenty Pro Longwear foundation, it goes on smoothly and blends into a more natural finish despite the foundation’s very matte coverage. This perfect matte-but-not-flat look is something I’ve always wanted, but never fully achieved, until the J.One Red Jelly Pack!

Freshly applied makeup using full coverage matte foundation

Freshly applied makeup using full coverage matte foundation

Before I found this primer, even a trusty foundation like Fenty would still show some signs of wear and tear by my 5th hour of wear. My base would typically fade and crease around my eyes and on my T-zone. However, because of the J.One primer’s glue-like texture, any foundation I use on top just seems to adhere way better! It creates a smooth base for products to layer over, while helping them to last longer against oil and sweat. Even when I use less product and apply lightly, my skin looks so much better!

I definitely recommend the J.One Red Jelly Pack to anyone looking to up the ante of their primer game, or are in the market for a multitasking primer that doubles as skin care. This primer would also be a good pick for anyone who prefers a formula that makes skin look healthier without looking like it has a pore-blurring filter. The price may make it seem like a splurge, but I have zero regrets about this purchase. I love it enough to say that no primer has ever made my skin feel as effortlessly fresh, radiant, and bouncy! Though far from being a mainstream pick, I can understand why this particular primer has earned cult status in Korea. And honestly? I don’t see myself picking up another brand any time soon.

Product photography by Nicole Quindara