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Expert Reviews

If you're new to the world (and hype) of BB creams, you should know that they're not as revolutionary as they're made out to be. There are many good ones, but in essence, BB creams are just a twist on tinted moisturizers with sunscreen. Sometimes BB creams treat skin to other beneficial ingredients, but sometimes not. In short, a product labeled BB cream isn't necessarily any better than your regular tinted moisturizer or liquid foundation.

Kiehl's contribution to the explosion of BB creams has a thin, lotion-like texture that must be blended quickly because it sets to a matte finish within 10 seconds or so. Despite the light texture, this can feel somewhat heavy on skin, and its finish gets progressively drier while being tacky to the touch. This undesirable trait makes applying other makeup (like blush or concealer) over this more difficult.

As for coverage, this is on the sheer side, just like many tinted moisturizers (though the formula isn't what most with the slightest hint of dry skin would consider moisturizing).

There are four shades, two of which (Fair and Fair/Light) are quite light and workable for their intended skin tones. The Fair/Light shade is slightly peach but acceptable while Medium has a warm, golden tone that is workable but not universally flattering to all medium skin tones.

Getting back to the formulary issues, the company makes a big deal about the vitamin C (in the form of ascorbyl glucoside) this contains, yet this contains more alcohol than vitamin C, and there's little of anything else to make this the BB cream to choose. The amount of alcohol is likely too low to pose a problem for skin, but it's not good news to see it commingling with active sunscreen ingredients that can be sensitizing on their own.

  • Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
  • Long-wearing matte finish.
  • Formula contains more alcohol than its touted vitamin C.
  • Formula lacks an impressive mix of beneficial ingredients that are supposed to be part of what makes BB creams special.
  • Matte finish feels surprisingly heavy and makes skin feel drier as the day goes on.
More Info:

PA followed by plus signs (PA+++, for example) is a designation used in Japan for rating the UVA protection of a sunscreen. The SPF number is about the sun's UVB rays; there are very few countries that have a UVA rating reference. Three plus symbols after the "PA" indicate the highest level of UVA protection, which can be as low as PA+, which means some UVA protection.

The PA standard is not accepted or used in other countries, but some brands have begun to include it on the labeling. The concept is interesting, but ultimately the SPF rating and the active ingredients matter far more because the method of assessing UVA protection is not widely accepted, primarily because it is very difficult to get agreement from scientists on what tests to use and what they mean.

Last Updated:12.18.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Community Reviews
Active Ingredients: Homosalate 10%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 5%, Titanium Dioxide 4.5%; Inactive Ingredients: Water, Dicaprylyl Ether, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Silica, Nylon-12, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Tribehenin, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Adenosine, Aluminum Hydroxide. May Contain: Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide
Brand Overview

Kiehl's At-A-Glance

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

About the Experts

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.

Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!