Ultra Facial Cream Intense Hydration

1.70 fl. oz. for $ 26.50
Expert Rating

Expert Reviews

Community Reviews



Brand Overview

Ultra Facial Cream Intense Hydration is a confusing product. From Kiehl's marketing claims, you'd expect its formula to be chockfull of skin-repairing, antioxidant, and other helpful ingredients to comfort those with dry, dull skin. While this does contain ingredients that can moisturize, such as two non-fragrant plant oils, it's otherwise shockingly basic—composed of thickeners, a tiny amount of antioxidants, and a lot of alcohol.

Alcohol-based skin-care or makeup products are problematic due to the damaging, drying impact they have on the skin's barrier. If you're trying to heal a dry, dull complexion, what you're really trying to do is repair your skin's barrier so it can retain the lipids and other beneficial substances that keep it healthy. The last thing you need is a boozy beauty product like this chipping away at your efforts! See More Info for additional details on alcohol-based products like this.

The second red flag is the near total lack of ingredients that can moisturize, repair, and protect the skin—namely antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and emollients. What you get in the Ultra Facial Cream Intense Hydration is a formula that doesn't hold a candle to those at the drugstore, from lines like CeraVe and Olay (actually, plain Aquaphor is a better choice than this misguided moisturizer).

Although it's almost inconsequential given the near total lack of helpful ingredients, the fact that this is packaged in a jar renders what slight amount of antioxidants are present inactive due to the exposure to air and light that occurs during daily use. See More Info for details on jar packaging.

We recommend skipping the type of "Intensive Hydration" this product offers and looking to any of the dozens of far-better-formulated alternatives in the Best Moisturizers Without Sunscreen section of Beautypedia.

  • Contains two non-fragrant plant oils helpful for dry skin.
  • Nearly void of antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients you would expect in a product that makes such claims.
  • Contains a high amount of denatured alcohol, which can dry and increase inflammation in the skin.
  • Jar packaging is a problem.
More Info:

Alcohol in Skin Care: There is a significant amount of research showing alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels. Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products use amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol causes skin cells to self-destruct. The research also showed that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer exposure to alcohol occurred two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day and that's at only a 3% concentration. (Sources: Journal of Investigative Dermatology, August 2009, pages 20–24; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; Alcohol, Volume 26, Issue 3, April 2002, pages 179–190; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, April 2001, pages 109–166; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).

For more on alcohol's (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) effects on skin, see our article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.

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).

Jar Packaging: Yes
Tested on animals: Yes

Ultra light skin quenching daily face moisturizer; Instantly smoothes and softens dry skin while improving skins radiance; Locks in moisture for 24-hour hydration.

Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol Denatured, Betaine, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Phenoxyethanol, CI 77891 Titanium Dioxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Chlorphenesin, Carbomer, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyl Taurate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Isopropyl Myristate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Acetate Butyrate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyphosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Sodium Chloride, Vitis Vinifera Extract/Grape Fruit 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.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our terms of use here.