Kiehl's

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 www.kiehls.com.

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+ Rating Product Brand Category Price Size
Average Lip Balm #1 Kiehl's Lip Balm With Sunscreen  $7.00 0.50 fl. oz.
Poor Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash Kiehl's Face/Body Cleansers  $8.00 2.50 fl. oz.
Poor Facial Fuel No-Shine Moisturizing Lip Balm Kiehl's Lip Balm Without Sunscreen  $9.00 0.17 fl. oz.
Poor Lip Balm SPF 15 (Discontinued) Kiehl's Lip Balm With Sunscreen  $9.50 0.50 fl. oz.
Good Lip Gloss (Discontinued) Kiehl's Lip Gloss  $14.50
Average Unusually Rich But Not Greasy At All Hand Cream with SPF 10 (Discontinued) Kiehl's Hand Creams with Sunscreen  $16.00 3.40 fl. oz.
Average Ultra Facial Oil-Free Toner Kiehl's Toners  $16.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Poor Rosewater Facial Freshener-Toner, for Normal to Oily Skin (Discontinued) Kiehl's Toners  $16.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Average Ultra Facial Toner, For All Skin Types Kiehl's Toners  $16.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Poor Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner, for Dry or Sensitive Skin Kiehl's Toners  $16.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Good Supremely Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover Kiehl's Eye Makeup Removers  $16.50 4.20 fl. oz.
Average Drawing Paste (Discontinued) Kiehl's Oil-Absorbent Masks  $17.00 0.50 fl. oz.
Poor Foaming Non-Detergent Washable Cleanser, for Combination or Oily Skin (Discontinued) Kiehl's Cleansers/Soaps  $17.50 8.40 fl. oz.
Good Washable Cleansing Milk, for Dry, Normal to Dry or Sensitive Skin Types Kiehl's Cleansers/Soaps  $17.50 8.40 fl. oz.
Poor Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion Kiehl's Toners  $18.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Poor Blue Herbal Spot Treatment Kiehl's BHA  $18.00 0.50 fl. oz.
Poor Facial Fuel Energizing Tonic for Men Kiehl's Toners  $18.00 8.40 fl. oz.
Good Vital Sun Protection Spray SPF 25 (Discontinued) Kiehl's Water-Resistant Sunscreen  $18.50 4.20 fl. oz.
Average Ultra Facial Moisturizer Kiehl's Moisturizer without Sunscreen  $18.50 2.50 fl. oz.
Poor Concealing Stick for Blemishes (Discontinued) Kiehl's Specialty Skin Care Products  $19.00 0.18 fl. oz.
Poor Facial Fuel Sky Flyin’ Foaming Multi-Gel Kiehl's Shaving Creams/Lotions/Gels  $19.00 5.00 fl. oz.
Poor Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser Kiehl's Cleansers/Soaps  $19.50 5.00 fl. oz.
Good Vital Sun Protection Lotion SPF 30 (Discontinued) Kiehl's SPF 30-49 Sunscreen  $19.50 5.00 fl. oz.
Best Ultra Facial Cleanser, For All Skin Types Kiehl's Cleansers/Soaps  $19.50 5.00 fl. oz.
Poor Men's Alcohol-Free Herbal Toner Kiehl's After Shaves  $19.50 8.40 fl. oz.
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