If you're new to the world (and hype) of BB creams, you should know that they're not as revolutionary as they're made out to be. There are many good ones, but in essence, BB creams are just a twist on tinted moisturizers with sunscreen. Sometimes BB creams treat skin to other beneficial ingredients, but sometimes not. In short, a product labeled BB cream isn't necessarily any better than your regular tinted moisturizer or liquid foundation.
Kiehl's contribution to the explosion of BB creams has a thin, lotion-like texture that must be blended quickly because it sets to a matte finish within 10 seconds or so. Despite the light texture, this can feel somewhat heavy on skin, and its finish gets progressively drier while being tacky to the touch. This undesirable trait makes applying other makeup (like blush or concealer) over this more difficult.
As for coverage, this is on the sheer side, just like many tinted moisturizers (though the formula isn't what most with the slightest hint of dry skin would consider moisturizing).
There are four shades, two of which (Fair and Fair/Light) are quite light and workable for their intended skin tones. The Fair/Light shade is slightly peach but acceptable while Medium has a warm, golden tone that is workable but not universally flattering to all medium skin tones.
Getting back to the formulary issues, the company makes a big deal about the vitamin C (in the form of ascorbyl glucoside) this contains, yet this contains more alcohol than vitamin C, and there's little of anything else to make this the BB cream to choose. The amount of alcohol is likely too low to pose a problem for skin, but it's not good news to see it commingling with active sunscreen ingredients that can be sensitizing on their own.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Long-wearing matte finish.
- Formula contains more alcohol than its touted vitamin C.
- Formula lacks an impressive mix of beneficial ingredients that are supposed to be part of what makes BB creams special.
- Matte finish feels surprisingly heavy and makes skin feel drier as the day goes on.
PA followed by plus signs (PA+++, for example) is a designation used in Japan for rating the UVA protection of a sunscreen. The SPF number is about the sun's UVB rays; there are very few countries that have a UVA rating reference. Three plus symbols after the "PA" indicate the highest level of UVA protection, which can be as low as PA+, which means some UVA protection.
The PA standard is not accepted or used in other countries, but because NARS is owned by Japan-based Shiseido, some of their products have begun to include it on the labeling. The concept is interesting, but ultimately the SPF rating and the active ingredients matter far more because the method of assessing UVA protection is not widely accepted, primarily because it is very difficult to get agreement from scientists on what tests to use and what they mean.
Active Ingredients: Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 5%, Titanium Dioxide 4.5%; Inactive Ingredients: Water, Dicaprylyl Ether, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Silica, Nylon-12, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Tribehenin, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Adenosine, Aluminum Hydroxide.
May Contain: Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide
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.