Rosa Arctica Lightweight Cream

1.70 fl. oz. for $ 60.00
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While there are a few qualities to like about Rose Arctica Lightweight Cream, such as the small variety of beneficial antioxidants and lighter emollients, there are far more reasons to avoid it. For all the claims Kiehl's makes about this product, the only extraordinary thing about it is how ordinary the formula is given its price tag. Many drugstore options far surpass it in quality and are available at a fraction of the cost.

Aside from its very basic formula, Kiehl's included fragrant lavender oil, which is problematic for its potential to irritate the skin (see More Info for details on just how much of an issue it is in beauty products).

Oddly enough, rather than include any number of ingredients that have significant amounts of research demonstrating their benefit for the skin, Kiehl's relied on a few that are more fad than substance. The three you will often hear about from counter reps are (1) Pro-Xylane (hydroxypropyl tetrahydropyrantriol), (2) ceramide 2-oleamido-1, 3-octadecanediol, and (3) rose arnica extract.

L'Oreal (who owns Kiehl's) includes Pro-Xylane in product in several of its lines, from Lancôme's Absolue line, La Roche-Posay, and L'Oreal Paris to their Garnier Nutritioniste line—but no matter where it's used, it's not a special ingredient. Pro-Xylane is a sugar extract that is said to help the skin's own support structure of skin-identical ingredients, but research to that effect is scant, and there are better-studied alternatives. (Perhaps those others just don't have the "wow" factor of a trade name like Pro-Xylane.)

This also contains a synthetic form of ceramide—2-oleamido-1, 3-octadecanediol—that has no published research demonstrating any benefit for the skin. It is most frequently seen in shampoos and conditioners. Even if it did have established benefit for the skin, there is only a dusting present here.

What of the rose arnica extract that Kiehl's heralds as a "rare resurrection flower"? While it does have antioxidant capability (just like many plant extracts), there isn't anything exceptional about it and no published independent scientific or medical research that corroborates Kiehl's claims that it provides skin with "regenerative" properties. Again, even if it did, it wouldn't remain stable for long in a jar package after it's opened. See More Info for details on why jar packaging is such a problem for skin-care products.

Ultimately, there is no reason to consider Rose Arctica Lightweight Cream. Instead, we recommend skipping it and looking to any of the dozens of far-better-formulated alternatives in the Best Moisturizers Without Sunscreen section of Beautypedia—none of which are packaged in a jar.

  • Contains a few plant-based fatty acids that have benefit for slightly dry skin.
  • Almost totally void of beneficial antioxidants or cell-communicating ingredients (formula as basic as it gets).
  • Contains the problematic fragrant ingredient lavender oil.
  • Embarrassingly high price for a product that's easily outperformed by many drugstore alternatives.
  • Jar packaging is a problem (even for poor formulations such as this).
More Info:

Jar Packaging: The fact that this cream is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).

Lavender Oil: Research indicates that components of lavender, specifically linalool, can be cytotoxic, which means that topical application causes skin-cell death (Source: Cell Proliferation, June 2004, pages 221–229). Lavender leaves contain camphor, which is a known skin irritant. Because the fragrance constituents in lavender oil oxidize when exposed to air, lavender oil is a pro-oxidant, and this enhanced oxidation increases its irritancy on skin (Source: Contact Dermatitis, September 2008, pages 143–150). Lavender oil is the most potent form, and even small amounts of it (0.25% or less) are problematic. Although it's fine as an aromatherapy agent for inhalation or relaxation, it is a must to avoid in skin-care products. (Sources: Psychiatry Research, February 2007, pages 89–96; and www.naturaldatabase.com).

Jar Packaging: Yes
Tested on animals: Yes

Fights the signs of skin aging over time, including lines, wrinkles and loss of elasticity, firmness and density. Delicately scented with lavender oil, known for its relaxing and soothing properties.

Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Beta Vulgaris/Beet Root Extract, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprate, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Cera Alba/Beeswax, Tocopheryl Acetate, Stearic Acid, Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, Palmitic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Phenoxyethanol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Sodium Citrate, 2-Oleamido-1, 3-Octadecanediol, Chlorphenesin, Citric Acid, Lavandila Angustofolia Oil/Lavender Oil, Xanthan Gum, Mica, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkylacrylate Crosspolymer, Laureth-7, Linalool, CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Disodium EDTA, Adenosine, Potassium Hydroxide, Faex Extract/Yeast Extract, Citral, Limonene, Geraniol, Haberlea Rhodopensis/Haberlea Rhodopensis Leaf Extract.

Kiehl's At-A-Glance

Kiehls has been around for quite some time, with its origins in a New York City-based pharmacy established in 1851. The brand is perhaps best known for its apothecary-style packaging and its best-selling (and celebrity favorite) Lip Balm #1.

Though the brand claims its products are made with the finest naturally-derived ingredients, most of its formulations include synthetically-produced ingredients as well. Like most skincare companies the line contains both good and not-so-great offerings; Kiehls main misstep is that many of its products contain fragrance ingredients that could irritate skin, particularly sensitive skin.

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 dont 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 Beautypedia Research Team.

For more information about Kiehl's, call (800) 543-4572 or visit www.kiehls.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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