Without question, the name for this treatment product from Kiehl’s speaks to what many people want: Smaller, tighter pores and less sagging. We wish we could report that this is finally the one product that really does improve pore size AND lifts skin, but alas, it’s not. As usual, the lifting and facial contour redefining claims are sheer fantasy (see More Info for details) and, like most of the treatment products from L’Oreal-owned Kiehl’s, the ingredient list is more yawn-inducing than revolutionary.
This water-based serum has a light, gel-like texture that leaves a visibly moist, satin-like finish that actually makes pores look bigger, at least until it sets to a slightly matte, dulled-down finish. Its texture is suitable for all skin types, though those with dry skin will want to follow with a moisturizer.
As for restoring elasticity to skin, it cannot do that. Skin becomes inelastic for many reasons, the majority of which (gravity and bone loss, for example) are not things skincare can fix. If by restoring elasticity Kiehl’s means making skin’s surface more elastic via hydration, then yes, this can do that—but so can LOTS of other serums and moisturizers, many costing considerably less and offering a much better range of anti-aging ingredients. What this absolutely cannot do is lift sagging skin or define facial contours. That’s the purview of cosmetic surgery and corrective procedures like dermal fillers. Skincare can do a lot to help skin look and act younger, but concerns of sagging is where skincare has limitations.
This does contain the film-forming agent PVP to create a tighter feel on skin, but skin feeling tighter is not the same as it actually becoming tighter. More concerning is that the amount of alcohol this contains presents a small risk of irritation, plus this contains more denatured alcohol than state of the art anti-aging ingredients—not what you want for what Kiehl’s is charging!
On balance, this product ends up being highly likely to disappoint, and the alcohol along with fragrant rosemary oil plus fragrance ingredients known to cause irritation make this an easy serum to pass on in favor of top-rated options on our list of Best Serums.
Note: This serum contains a small amount of a form of salicylic acid known as capryloyl salicylic acid. Although this derivative of salicylic acid can exfoliate, the concentration needs to be much higher than what’s present here, not to mention this product’s pH of 4.7 is above the recommended range this ingredient (and regular salicylic acid) need to exfoliate skin.
Lightweight texture is easy to apply.
The majority of claims are impossible for skincare to achieve.
Overpriced for such an ordinary formula.
Contains some ingredients (including denatured alcohol) known to irritate skin.
Many skin-care products claim they can firm and lift skin, but none of them work, at least not to the extent claimed. A face-lift-in-a-bottle isn’t possible, but with the right mix of products, you will see firmer skin that has a more lifted appearance—and that’s exciting! To gain these youthful benefits, you must protect your skin from any and all sun damage every day, use an AHA (glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant, and use products that have a wide range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. Remember, no single product can do it all; it’s the combination of products that has extensive research showing they can significantly improve many of the signs of aging, such as firming skin, reducing wrinkles and brown spots, and eliminating dullness. You’ll find them on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.
A clinically tested serum that restores elasticity for more toned, uplifted skin. Visibly lifts facial skin; tightens and reduces pores, lines, and wrinkles; re-defines facial contours.
Water, Butylene Glycol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane. Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-20, Squalane, Dimethicone, Alcohol Denat., Octyldodecanol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Lauroyl Lysine, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Pentylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Polysilicone-11, Yeast Extract, Xanthan Gum, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylates Crosspolymer, PVP, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Adenosine, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Citronellol, Geraniol, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil/Rosemary Leaf Oil, Citral, Limonene, Fmla.
Kiehl’s 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; Kiehl’s 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 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 Beautypedia Research Team.
For more information about Kiehl's, call (800) 543-4572 or visit www.kiehls.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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