We'll give Kiehl's this when it comes to Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser: It is oil-free, which is good for the acne-prone skin it's designed to help. Unfortunately that's the only positive about this product, which otherwise gets a lot wrong when it comes to fighting blemishes!
First is the inclusion of a number of potent skin-sensitizing ingredients. They include methol, camphor, ginger, and cinnamon extract. While this is a product that's rinsed off skin (thank goodness!), these still have the potential to aggravate skin even if left on for a little bit, particularly if you use it daily. That's bad news especially if you have acne (see More Info for details on why sensitizing ingredients aren't good for acne-prone skin).
The other big issue is that while this does contain salicylic acid, it can't act as an exfoliant in this product. That’s because it's rinsed off before it can begin to work. If you are hoping for this cleanser to provide exfoliating benefits, think again.
Because of its lack of benefits for acne-prone skin, we say skip this, and choose one of the far gentler options on our list of Best Cleansers.
Contains potent skin sensitizers like menthol, camphor, and cinnamon oil.
Salicylic acid can't clear acne as claimed in this formula.
Not Being Gentle to Skin Can Increase Oily Skin & Breakouts: Whether you can see it on the surface of skin or not, using harsh, skin-aggravating ingredients or cleansing brushes with stiff bristles, is a serious problem for all skin types but uniquely so for those with oily, combination, and blemish-prone skin.
Research has clearly established that when skin is aggravated the oil gland is stimulated by nerve endings to make more oil creating a perfect environment for blemishes, breakouts, and clogged pores to get worse.
Using any product that’s gentle and completely non-irritating is without question the only approach to taking the best care of your skin; doing otherwise hurts your skin.
It’s also vitally important to use appropriate products that research has shown are beneficial for oily skin and blemishes. The two gold standard ingredients are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
References for this information:
Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology, January 2016, issue 1, pages 25-30
Journal of European Dermatology and Venerology, May 2014, issue 5, pages 527-532
Journal of Dermatology, May 2012, issue 5, pages 433-438
Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, April 2011, pages 41-53
Dermato-Endocrinology, January-March 2011, issue 1, pages 41–49.
European Journal of Dermatology, September-October 2002, pages 422-427
Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2004, issue 6, page 764
Dermatology, January 2003, issue 1, pages 17-23
Skin-Sensitizing Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these types of skin-aggravating ingredients is a major way we unknowingly do our skin a disservice!
Sensitizing ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems that include redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increases in oil production, clogged pores, and contribute to making signs of aging worse.
Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating skincare products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin without any volatility, including those present in natural fragrant ingredients.
A surprising fact: Even though you might not see the negative influence of using products that contain sensitizing ingredients, skin the damage will still be taking place. It doesn’t need to be evident on the surface! Research has demonstrated that you don’t always need to see or feel the effects on your skin for your skin to be suffering the impact and the visible damage may not become apparent for a long time.
For this reason, it’s best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that can be sensitizing on skin. There are many products that contain effective ingredients that are also completely non-irritating so there’s no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.
References for this information
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, issue 1, pages 28-36.
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, issue 4, pages 379-385
Journal of Clinical Dermatology, November 2014, issue 5, online access
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, issue 3, pages 257-262
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446—475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, issue 11, pages 789-798
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, issue 4, pages 191-202
Aging, March 2012, pages 166-175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77-80
Thoroughly cleans pores and removes traces of dirt, residue and oil, which can lead to acne break-outs. Contains Salicylic Acid to help keep skin clear of acne blemishes.
Water, Coco-Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Triethanolamine, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Chloride, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Menthol, Methylparaben, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Benzophone-4, Disodium EDTA, Dipropylene Glycol, Camphor, Zinc PCA, Aloe Barbadensis/Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Boswelia Serrata Extract/Boswellia Serrata Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Blue 1, Poterium Officinale Root Extract, Zingiber Officinale Root Extract, Ginger Root Extract, Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract, Hamaelis Viginiana Leaf Extract/Witch Hazel Leaf Extract.
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.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!