Highly Efficient Skin Tone Corrector (Discontinued)

by Kiehl's  
$50 - 1 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > AHA Exfoliants > AHA
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Just how “highly efficient” this product is depends on what your expectations are. Kiehl’s maintains it is able to reduce the appearance of brown spots and an uneven skin tone, both of which are signs of sun damage. The ingredient that could possibly have some impact on this problem is glycolic acid, and this product’s pH of 3.8 means it will function as an exfoliant. The thing is, you don’t need to spend this much money (not even close to it) for an effective AHA exfoliant. Besides, the percentage of glycolic acid in this product is likely less than 5%—Kiehl’s Customer Service told me that the exact percentage is proprietary, a line we hear over and over again, even though there’s no reason to not be forthcoming about this information—so it’s actually not as potent as many other well-formulated AHA moisturizers, from Alpha Hydrox, Neutrogena Healthy Skin, and Paula’s Choice, among others. Using this fragrance-free product along with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 15 or greater will likely improve your skin, but the bottom line is you can achieve better (at least more reliable) results for a lot less money. Those loyal to Kiehl’s and wishing to try this product should know it is suitable for all skin types. By the way, there is absolutely nothing natural about this product in any way, shape, or form.

Clinically demonstrated to help reduce the appearance of brown spots and uneven skin tone.

Water, Glycerin, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycolic Acid, PPPG-2 Myristyl Ether Propionate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Isopropyl Palmitate, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-75 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Ammonium Hydroxide, Ceteth-20, Argilla/Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Steareth-20, Methylparaben, Xanthan Gum, Propylparaben, BHT, Grapefruit Fruit Extract, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Red 4, Citric Acid

This line has been around for quite some time, and has its origins in a family-owned pharmacy based in New York City. Perhaps its neighborly beginnings with a big-city heritage are what propelled Kiehl's to its long-standing status as a popular product line. Considering that Kiehl's doesn't advertise (at least not in the traditional sense, though their products get frequent press), their brand identity and status in the minds of consumers are impressive.

What gets lost in all the fashion magazine hype and company claims of "excellence" and "quality ingredients" is that almost all of the Kiehl's products hardly warrant excitement or even mild enthusiasm. Most of them are surprisingly ordinary, with a dusting of natural ingredients almost always at the very end of the ingredient list, well after the preservatives. That amounts to little more than a token attempt to make the products appear more natural to those who want to believe a plant or vitamin must somehow be better for the skin than something that sounds more chemical. Nevertheless, that token amount is enough to allow Kiehl's to brag about how its products nourish the skin or are more environmentally friendly, when they're not.

Aside from the allure of the natural, this line consists of totally ordinary and often completely unnatural ingredients. More disheartening for skin is that many of the ingredients are of questionable benefit for those with sensitive, oily, or blemish-prone skin. In some instances product ingredients are irritating for any skin type, while half of the sunscreen products are a serious problem for reliable sun protection. If you can't resist the allure of Kiehl's, just know that the product assembly will work best for those with dry to very dry skin and that, for the money, most of the formulas aren't knock-your-socks-off thrilling.

Note: Kiehl's is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because its products are sold in China. Although Kiehl's does not conduct animal testing for its products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law.” Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Paula’s Choice Research Team.

For more information about Kiehl's, owned by L'Oreal, call (800) 543-4572 or visit www.kiehls.com.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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