March 2016 Birchbox Review #3: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream

When face creams are inexplicably expensive.

I like trying different moisturizers for my nighttime routine, when I want a little more hydration. During the day, I use my holy grail Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Moisture Gel. It’s perfect for keeping my t-zone in control. But I’m still on the search for a great nighttime moisturizer. I’d just used up the Tucker Ashley sample that Ipsy had sent me, which I loved, but it’s not very readily available. I’m on the search for something at one of my regular stores.

Birchbox sent over Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream (USD $27.50, for 1.7 oz), and I was down to try it out. While not the priciest moisturizer on the market, it’s definitely way above drug store prices and you’re not even getting a full two ounces. I expect good things from you, Kiehl’s.

With moisturizers, two things matter: ingredients and packaging.

Let’s start with the good news. There are some pretty great ingredients listed. Collagen, various naturally derived (non irritating oils), squalane, and glycerin among other ingredients are great for repairing and hydrating skin. Now despite some good ingredients, this cream is missing two key ingredients I look for in all facial moisturizers: hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Now a days, any moisturizer without these two key skin repairing and moisturizing ingredients just isn’t worth your time.

Kiehl’s does claim that the magical properties of squalane and desert plant extract fortify the skin to withstand harsh conditions. Now, it did do a great job of hydrating my combination skin without leaving my t-zone feeling greasy. But in all honesty, there probably isn’t enough in the cream so you can get the same resilience as their plant sources. (Meaning, this is kind of gimmicky.)

Also of great note is that this cream doesn’t contain any irritants, including zero fragrance. This is a big plus. It means it’s pretty sensitive skin friendly. There is one paraben in the ingredients (which isn’t a big deal), but if you’re avoiding those you probably won’t want to use this.

I’d be willing to (somewhat) forgive the lack of important skin repairing ingredients if it weren’t for the biggest offender: jar packaging. I’ve ranted before about how awful jar packaging is. (TL;DR: it makes ingredients break down faster and exposes the product to bacteria and other contaminants.) It doesn’t matter how “fancy” jar packaging may make a product seem, it’s just something that skin care should avoid. Since Kiehl’s chose jar packaging for their cream, that means that in a few uses the product will be contaminated, leaving you prone to breakouts, and the delicate naturally derived ingredients will begin to break down as soon as you open the jar.

This is really too bad, because this could actually have been a decent product for sensitive skin people.

Rating: 2/5. I would have probably rated this a 3, if it weren’t for that darn jar packaging. While there are some good ingredients and this is fragrance free, I’m just not convinced that this moisturizer is worth the price. Had it included hyaluronic acid and ceramides in its formula, it would have absolutely been a great moisturizer to recommend. If they do change their packaging in the future, I would be more willing to recommend it. As it stands, save your $28 and look elsewhere.

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