Photo-Age High Potency Spot Treatment
1 fl. oz. for $50
Last Updated:11.18.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This specialty product makes claims that are beyond this formula’s capacity. It contains mostly water, followed by slip agents, silicone, thickeners, and the antioxidant ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is a potent antioxidant compound present in pomegranate and in most berries. Research has shown that, like many other antioxidants, it can reduce the signs of sun damage, including keeping collagen intact when skin is exposed to UVB light.

There is also limited research showing that ellagic acid (again, like many other plant extracts) can interrupt the process that causes excess melanin formation in skin (Sources: Experimental Dermatology, August 2010, pages 182–190; and International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2000, pages 291–303).

The problem with this formula is that ellagic acid is the only worthwhile ingredient that’s present in any appreciable amount. Your skin needs an array of beneficial ingredients to truly fight sun damage and wrinkling—there isn’t any single miracle ingredient. If this were the best ingredient, why doesn’t Kiehl include it in all their Photo-Age products, or other antiwrinkle products for that matter?

Your skin won’t be happy with the fragrance and peppermint leaf extract this product contains because of the irritation they can cause.


Our Photo-Age High-Potency Spot Treatment powerfully reverses UV Damage three ways: provides instant luminosity & radiance, reverses visible damage on skin surface, and inhibits invisible damage from rising to the surface.


Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isononyl Isononanoate, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearic Acid, Ellagic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Polyacrylamide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetrasodium EDTA, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Calcium Pantetheine Sulfonate, Laureth-7, Tocopherol, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ginkgo Biloba Extract / Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Extract / Licorice Root Extract, Mentha Piperita Extract / Peppermint Leaf Extract, Rosa Centifolia Extract / Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Extract / Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Morus Alba Root Extract

Brand Overview

Kiehl's At-A-Glance

Strengths: Kiehl's staff is generous when it comes to providing samples and product information; some good cleansers; a couple worthwhile serums.

Weaknesses: Expensive for what you get; the Blue Herbal and Facial Fuel products are terrible; no products to successfully address skin discolorations; the toners are disappointing; the self-tanner should be avoided; jar packaging weakens several of the formulas.

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.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

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