Tested on animals:Yes
Ultra Facial Cream Intense Hydration is a confusing product. From Kiehl's marketing claims, you'd expect its formula to be chockfull of skin-repairing, antioxidant, and other helpful ingredients to comfort those with dry, dull skin. While this does contain ingredients that can moisturize, such as two non-fragrant plant oils, it's otherwise shockingly basic—composed of thickeners, a tiny amount of antioxidants, and a lot of alcohol.
Alcohol-based skin-care or makeup products are problematic due to the damaging, drying impact they have on the skin's barrier. If you're trying to heal a dry, dull complexion, what you're really trying to do is repair your skin's barrier so it can retain the lipids and other beneficial substances that keep it healthy. The last thing you need is a boozy beauty product like this chipping away at your efforts! See More Info for additional details on alcohol-based products like this.
The second red flag is the near total lack of ingredients that can moisturize, repair, and protect the skin—namely antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and emollients. What you get in the Ultra Facial Cream Intense Hydration is a formula that doesn't hold a candle to those at the drugstore, from lines like CeraVe and Olay (actually, plain Aquaphor is a better choice than this misguided moisturizer).
Although it's almost inconsequential given the near total lack of helpful ingredients, the fact that this is packaged in a jar renders what slight amount of antioxidants are present inactive due to the exposure to air and light that occurs during daily use. See More Info for details on jar packaging.
We recommend skipping the type of "Intensive Hydration" this product offers and looking to any of the dozens of far-better-formulated alternatives in the Best Moisturizers Without Sunscreen section of Beautypedia.
- Contains two non-fragrant plant oils helpful for dry skin.
- Nearly void of antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients you would expect in a product that makes such claims.
- Contains a high amount of denatured alcohol, which can dry and increase inflammation in the skin.
- Jar packaging is a problem.
Alcohol in Skin Care: There is a significant amount of research showing alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels. Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products use amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol causes skin cells to self-destruct. The research also showed that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer exposure to alcohol occurred two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day and that's at only a 3% concentration. (Sources: Journal of Investigative Dermatology, August 2009, pages 20–24; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; Alcohol, Volume 26, Issue 3, April 2002, pages 179–190; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, April 2001, pages 109–166; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
For more on alcohol's (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) effects on skin, see our article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.
Jar Packaging: The fact that this cream is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).