Kiehl’s Products Review

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Yeah, I through all my Keihl’s in my sink and photographed it.  I’m artistic like that.

I’ve been on the hunt for good face products since I was, oh, about 13.  I’m one of those people who, when I find something good, I stick to it for a long time.  I can count the number of brands of face products I’ve used with consistency in the past decade on one hand, although I’ve tried dozens.  I’ll discuss another day the products I haven’t stuck with, but today I’ll do a little ‘splainin’ why I’ve been on Keihls for the past 6+ months and intend to stick with (most of) it for the time being.  I’m off the market for new stuff for a good while, but of course being the beautyslut that I am I’ll try new stuff if the sales pitch convinces me.

I always had some brand awareness about Keihl’s, but it was Zanita and Laura’s rave reviews of the brand’s various eye creams that convinced me to try it for myself.  A successful trial of their eye cream led me to expand to a full use of Keihl’s products for my face with the exception of eye makeup remover (I’ve used and loved Almay’s super inexpensive oil free eye pads for years).

In terms of the brand itself it is sold in its own quite sleek and clean looking boutiques as well as high-end department store Holts.  The salespeople present themselves on-brand by wearing crisp white pharmacist’s coats which is probably a (well thought out by PR people) throwback to Keihl’s origins as a  pharmacy 150+ years ago.  I find the products satisfy my needs.  Not only do I find the products effective, but their packaging suits my aesthetic sensibilities (and I won’t buy a product if it doesn’t because I’m a snob like that).  My experience with the service has been quite good and they throw in perks like free shit and a reward program for you heavy $pender$.  And so they should for what they charge for eye cream.   It is expensive, but no more than what one might spend on other higher-end beauty lines.  A note about price:  yes, the products are expensive, but you only need a very small amount for each application and the bottles last for ages.

The Criteria:

1.  It can’t be filled with shit (i.e. excessive chemicals, colors, fragrance etc.  These additives are not necessary if a product is actually good.  This is out of concern both for the environment and my consideration for my precious, precious skin.

2.  It has to moisturize without being greasy or heavy and at the same time not dry out my skin.

3.  Face cream has to have SPF (no wrinkles for me please).

4.  It needs to be simple.  I’m a lazy sod just like the next person, just I like to look good being said lazy sod.

5.  It has to work. This is a tricky one.   It’s really hard to empirically test this.  There is no way to tell how I’d look in ten years having used this product vs. other products vs. nothing.  Skin products can make a great effect in the short term to improve the look and feel of your skin, but it is long term where it really counts.  Using things like SPF moisturizer and eye cream are more like insurance policies for your mug that may, or may not, pay out in 10, 20 or 30 years.  So I suppose a decent working definition then is it has to make me feel like it’s working.

5. a.)  An extension to “it must work” is that is must not not work.  Meaning that it can’t cause breakouts (which are otherwise not a usual occurrence for me) or make my skin feel or look worse.

Before I wax poetic on my likes and dislikes of these products keep in mind that I am reviewing these based on how they work on my skin.  For reference I have fairly unproblematic, but sensitive skin.  I get the odd spot at seemingly inopportune times (when is it opportune?).  In the summer my skin is combination – that is normal to ever so slightly dry generally, with a propensity for an oily t zone that is oh-so-common in such environmental conditions.  All other times of the year it errs on the side of being dryer and is not oily.  It’s nothing some decent face products and a good compact can’t handle.

The Swag:

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser

The claim (or what it’s supposed to do): Clean all the shit off your face.  According to the packaging it claims to be mild, remove makeup without drying or stripping your skin.  It also says it’s pH-balanced, whatever that means (dude I just barely passed grade 10 science – work with me here).

Does it work? It does get makeup off and doesn’t make my skin feel overly dry.  It does make it feel a little tighter than a very mild cleanser like Cetaphil, although the later doesn’t remove makeup quite as well.  Although it does make my skin feel slightly tight, it’s not annoying or detrimental enough to not use the product.  It doesn’t have stupid colours or stupid scents, although it does have some slightly funky-sounding ingredients that I don’t love, but can live with.

Would I repurchase? I’m on the fence about this one, but probably likely.  It’s a fine face cleanser and likely better than 95% of what’s out there.  I do believe it does get rid of all the makeup and other suspect things that accumulates on one’s face.  I did really, really like another one I used a little while back called Fresh Soy Facial Cleanser, but I suspected, much like the Cetaphil, that it doesn’t get rid of makeup quite as well.

Tip:  Use a very, very small amount and emulsify it in your hands before applying to your mug.  A little really goes a long way here.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner

The claim: Cliffs notes from the packaging: it’s supposed to even out skin tone, remove any any surface debris (their word, not mine – ha) and remaining soap residue.  It also claims to prepares your skin for moisturizer.   It doesn’t contain alcohol, which is really important in a toner (a lot of toners do, which just strips the skin and is useless, if not harmful).  I haven’t used a toner since I was a teenager as my skin just doesn’t (and never really) needed it, but a very good Kiehl’s sales lady convinced me I totally needed it for (continued) great skin.

Does it work? It doesn’t dry out my skin and does add some moisture.  It also removes any excess makeup the soap didn’t take off.  The above cleanser doesn’t need any help, but when I was using a more mild facial soap and wearing a good smattering of makeup I found it did take all the rest off.  As I mentioned I don’t have incredibly problematic skin, but it does seem to refine to pores that are a slight bother to me.

Would I repurchase? I’d would certainly hit up some sales ladies for enough free samples to keep my stocked when I’m in to buy eye cream.  I’m on the fence about spending my own $$ on this one again, so let me explain.  It’s usually too much of a fuss to use every night, although I try to make myself use it when I wash my face at night a few times a week to refine the texture of my skin. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and the bottle will probably last over a year, so if I was going to go for anther toner I’d get this one.  It does seem to be effective at pore refining and for that reason I’ll continue to use it.  Although it often feels like too much effort at the end of a long day, I will say for those days I feel like putting a little extra effort into myself if feels luxurious to add in this extra step.  Against:  too much fuss, don’t need help with taking off makeup due to good cleanser.  For:  it works, it makes me feel extra-pampered when I use it.  Therefore, after this giant preamble explaining myself, I’ll probably buy it again after I’ve exhausted my ability to swipe free samples.

Tip:  Not everyone uses toner or knows how to, so here is an FYI just for you Dear Readers.   According to le salespeople you put a little dime-sized dollop on a cotton pad and swipe it over your face.  They say you don’t need to wash it off, but I find that it does leave a slight uncomfortable film on the skin, so after using I find it most beneficial to give it a little rinse with plain water.  I feel like you get the benefit of the product, without the extra crap left on your face.  I’m just one of those people who doesn’t like too much stuff on my face, especially before bed. 

Kiehl’s Abyssine Eye Cream

The claim: My synopsis of the packing is thus: you won’t look old as fast and it’ll hide your fatigue (i.e. your affinity for late boozy nights and loose morals).

Does it work? As I mentioned in my preamble about the criteria I look for in a product, it is very difficult to tell if this product is working as aging is a decades-long process.  Let’s just say it makes me feel like it’s doing something and makes me believe that my eyes are a little smother and brighter.  The sales lady explained to me abyssine is some kind of great anti aging thing.  Again, I was too high in science class to be able to tell you if this is bullshit or not and I’m too lazy to Google, so I’ll chose to take the sales pitch.

Would I repurchase? Hellz yeah.  This is a lovely eye cream and now I understand why so many women wax poetic about it and the brand’s other eye creams.  If nothing else it feels nice and makes me feel like I’m being proactive in combating eventually getting old.

Tip:  I also used it with success mixing it with a too-heavy and slightly dry concealer to lighten the consistency.  It made said below-par concealer workable.

Kiehl’s Abyssine Lotion SPF 15/Abbyssine Cream SPF 23

These are also swag from the Abyssine line of anti-aging products, except one is a lotion in a bottle (lighter consistency) and one a cream in a tub (thicker).

The claim: Much like the Abyssine eye cream you won’t look old or slutty (for a while at least).

Does it work? Again, this is very hard to discern and I can’t test how it’ll affect my skin over the long term.  I will say quite positively that it feels nice on the face, doesn’t contain crappy colour, smells or too much chemically shit.  However, they are not the most perfect products on earth – they both leave a little sheen on the skin and the cream is too heavy for all but the depths of winter.

Would I repurchase? I would definitely repurchase the lotion.  It does leave my face a little shiny looking in summer, but I challenge you to find a lotion that doesn’t cause a sheen in this heat (believe me when I say I’ve been there, tried that).  Although it does have this one drawback, it is the best of all of the ones I’ve tried.  For all other times of the year it’s just great and for the summer it’s workable.  I can say with some certainty I would not buy the cream tub again unless I moved to a very, very forbidding dry and icy environment (and why the hell would one do such a thing, Dear Readers?).  It’s rather too heavy for my skin for everyday use.  I am holding on to the tub of cream though for wintertime to use on those winter days that are extra harsh or for when I’m abusing my skin my skiing in the sun and icy wind at the same time.  I wouldn’t re-buy a $63 tub of this for that purpose though.

Tip:  I once read in a book by a Dr. lady, who (probably) didn’t go to science class high, that products in tubs loose their potency much faster than those in bottles.  Thus, bottles are a far better packaging choice.  Therefore, the lotion in the bottle wins again.

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

The claim: It’s a serum that will repair your skin overnight.

Does it work? I’ve noticed a discernible difference in the fine lines on my forehead (yeah I’m 23 SHUT UP – ha) the morning after I use this.  It makes my skin feel nice and like the toner adds that extra pick-me-up pampering feel.

Would I repurchase? Likely.  I find it too much for my skin to use every day, but I use a very small amount a few times a week for that extra “not gonna get old” punch.  My favorite sales lady at their Queen St. locate has given me a few samples of this stuff and even those small dropper bottles have lasted so long I’ve never needed to purchase it.   Tip:  if you are going to schmooze a salesperson to try this for free make sure you get the one with the dropper – it’s too hard to get the right small amount when they give you the small perforated plastic pouch sample.

Tip:  When the sales lady tells you to only use two drops for your entire face, she means it!  Any more and you’ll get oily face.  The right amount and it’s lovely.  Also throw some (and by some I mean, like, one drop) on your decollete to keep it looking lovely.  Ladies always overlook that they get major sun damage on the chest area.


P.s. I got a free full sized tube of Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 SPF 4 for being a loyal customer.  I got the unflavored, unscented one and ya know what?  It works and I’d repurchase it.  It’s not sticky, but it shines like it is and it makes my lips feel good.  I use it on it’s own or over a light swipe of lipstick.  Like all of Kiehl’s products, a little goes a long way.


Written by erinoffduty

July 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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