Skin Rescuer
2.5 fl. oz. for $40
Last Updated:12.02.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Skin Rescuer isn't quite the salvation those with sensitive, blotchy skin are seeking, but in some ways it's one of the better facial moisturizers Kiehl's offers (regrettably, that isn't saying much). The creamy lotion formula contains an impressive mix of glycerin, emollients (including antioxidant-rich shea butter), and some intriguing barrier-repair ingredients, including tiny, but potentially effective, amounts of ceramides and similar substances.

Skin Rescuer doesn't claim to be fragrance-free, which is good because it does contain p-anisic acid, an ingredient whose chief function is fragrance, and rose extract, which adds more scent, and that's not the best for rescuing sensitive skin—that's for sure. Kiehl's maintains that the rose extract minimizes the skin's response to stress. (We always wonder what "stressed skin" means—acne? wrinkles? sensitive, blotchy skin? hormonal stress? something else?), but there's no research proving it does anything of the sort.

However, if your skin needs to be rescued from dryness, then this moisturizer is worth exploring. Again, it's one of the better options from this brand, and it's packaged to keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use.

Last, keep in mind that one way all of us can keep our skin from looking stressed is to protect it every day—whether rainy, cloudy, or sunny—with a product rated SPF 15 or greater (and greater is better). Sun damage is a major source of what many would label "stressed-out" skin! It's also critical to make sure that every product you use is brilliantly formulated, doesn't contain irritants, and is packaged to keep the important ingredients stable, which is something Kiehl's rarely brings to the table.

  • Lightweight cream texture contains some very good emollients.
  • Shea butter is a good source of antioxidants, and this contains other antioxidants, too.
  • Contains a good mix of skin-repairing ingredients (although it would be nice to see greater amounts of them).
  • The selling tactic of being for "stressed skin" is open to interpretation and doesn't change the fact that this is merely a good moisturizer.
  • Contains some fragrant ingredients that make it a problem for sensitive skin (the fragrant rose extract doesn't have research supporting Kiehl's claims).

The selling tactic of being for “stressed skin” is open to interpretation and doesn’t change the fact that this is merely a good moisturizer. Contains some fragrant ingredients that make it a problem for sensitive skin (the fragrant rose extract doesn’t have research supporting Kiehl’s claims).


Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Squalane, Propanediol, Undecane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter/Shea Butter, Tridecane, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-20 Stearate, Mannose, Lauroyl Lysine, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide/Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Tocopherol, P-Anisic Acid, Ectoin, Centella Asiatica Extract, Xanthan Gum, Ceteareth-25, Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester, Rosa Gallica Extract/Rose Gallica Flower Extract, Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine, Ceramide NP, Behenic Acid, Cholesterol, Ceramide NS, Chamomilla Recutita Extract/Matricaria Flower Extract, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Ceramide EOS, Caprooyl Phytosphingosine, Caprooyl Sphingosine, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide Fmla 685607 18 F.I.L.

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.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Not worth it

This winter in Winnipeg has really taken a toll on my face. I had never tried Kiehl's products before, but succumbed to the fancy boutique look and high-end price tag. I was hoping this moisturizer would help hydrate and even out skin tone for my dry, acne-prone/combination skin, but it stayed greasy and shiny on my skin and aggravated acne even more. Fortunately Kiehl's has a generous return policy. This was too expensive for it not to work well.

Reviewed by
Kelly M.
Great basic lightweight moisturizer

So glad to finally see a Paula review on this. I bought it about 2 weeks ago and with daily use it seems to be great. As a guy with oily skin this seems to be not too greasy but keeps my skin looking fresh. Is it worth 40 bucks? probably no,t but it seems to be working for me. seeing the GOOD review this got is reassuring that i made a good choice

Reviewed by
Gregory H.
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