Kiehl's At-A-Glance

Strengths: Kiehl's staff is generous when it comes to providing samples and product information; some good cleansers; a worthwhile selection of sunscreens with avobenzone for UVA protection; a reliable lip balm; many fragrance-free items.

Weaknesses: Expensive for what you get; the Blue Herbal products are terrible for acne; no products to successfully address skin discolorations; the toners; the self-tanner; some jar packaging.

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

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+ Rating Product Brand Category Price Size
Average Drawing Paste (Discontinued) Kiehl's Oil-Absorbent Masks  $17.00 0.50 fl. oz.
Poor Abyssine Serum + (Discontinued) Kiehl's Serums  $45.00 1.70 fl. oz.
Poor Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution Kiehl's Lighteners Without Hydroquinone  $49.50 1.00 fl. oz.
Poor Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion Kiehl's Toners  $18.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Average Ultra Facial Toner, For All Skin Types Kiehl's Toners  $16.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Poor Acai Damage-Fighting Serum Kiehl's Serums  $49.00 1.70 fl. oz.
Average Ultra Facial Oil-Free Toner Kiehl's Toners  $16.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Poor Eye Alert Kiehl's Eye Moisturizers  $21.50 0.50 fl. oz.
Good Vital Sun Protection Lotion SPF 40 (Discontinued) Kiehl's SPF 30-49 Sunscreen  $19.50 5.00 fl. oz.
Poor Facial Fuel Anti Wrinkle Cream Kiehl's Face/Eye Moisturizer  $36.00 1.69 fl. oz.
Average Cryste Marine Firming Eye Treatment Kiehl's Eye Moisturizers  $40.00 0.50 fl. oz.
Average Photo-Age Activated Toner Kiehl's Toners  $26.00 6.00 fl. oz.
Average Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer Kiehl's Eye Moisturizers  $20.00 0.17 fl. oz.
Good Ultra Moisturizing Eye Stick SPF 30 (Discontinued) Kiehl's Moisturizer with Sunscreen  $20.00 0.18 fl. oz.
Poor Acai Damage-Protecting Toning Mist (Discontinued) Kiehl's Toners  $26.00 6.00 fl. oz.
Poor Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, Alcohol-Free, for a Normal to Oily Skin Type Kiehl's Toners  $35.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Good Vital Sun Protection Lotion SPF 30 (Discontinued) Kiehl's SPF 30-49 Sunscreen  $19.50 5.00 fl. oz.
Poor Facial Fuel No-Shine Moisturizing Lip Balm Kiehl's Lip Balm Without Sunscreen  $9.00 0.17 fl. oz.
Average Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado Kiehl's Eye Moisturizers  $28.50 0.50 fl. oz.
Poor Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash Kiehl's Face/Body Cleansers  $8.00 2.50 fl. oz.
Poor Facial Fuel SPF 15 Kiehl's Face/Eye Moisturizer  $25.00 2.50 fl. oz.
Poor Facial Fuel Kiehl's Face/Eye Moisturizer  $25.00 2.50 fl. oz.
Poor Lip Balm SPF 15 (Discontinued) Kiehl's Lip Balm With Sunscreen  $9.50 0.50 fl. oz.
Good Supremely Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover Kiehl's Eye Makeup Removers  $16.50 4.20 fl. oz.
Good Vital Sun Protection Lotion SPF 15 (Discontinued) Kiehl's SPF 15-29 Sunscreen  $19.50 5.00 fl. oz.
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