Review: Kiehl’s anti-acne skincare

At the opening of the new Kiehl’s store in Ghent in December, I got the chance to pick 3 products I would like to try out. I chose the Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser, the alcohol-free Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner and The Ultra Light Daily UV Defense to take care of my oily skin and (exam) acne. You can read why and how here.

Because these are actually my first Kiehl’s products, I wanted to test them thorougly. Meaning really use the products during my daily skin treatement routine instead of just using them once and a while. Especially since I know a lot of the youngsters out there have the same problem with oily skin as me and I think I’m not the only one who’s sick and tired of having tried so many different products and brands and none of them seem to be working. Well, some do but after a while the skin becomes used to it and they fail to help you in the long run.

Therefore, I’m pleased to say that your search for a great anti-acne and oily skin product line might be over. At least it is for me. I decided to start using the products when my acne was at its worst point, right before my exams. I’ve noticed that, no matter what I eat or how many make-up I use, it doesn’t have any effect on how bad the acne is, but when it comes to periods where my body experiences a lot of stress, it has a huge impact on my skin. So what better time to test a product when the ‘problem’ you want to solve is at its worst, right?


(I apologize for the bad picture. I’ve been waiting for days to get great light, but the sun just won’t show its pretty face)

The Products

I start my morning routine with the Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser. It’s a blue liquid gel that contains salicylic acid and extracts of cinnamon bark and ginger root. It has a pleasant fresh scent that reminds me of mint or Eucalyptus. I put a bit in the palm of my hand and add a little bit of water. Then I gently wash my face with it for a couple of minutes. Be sure not to go too close to your eyes, because the freshness is quite strong. I’m lucky enough to wear contacts, so it doesn’t bother me that much. After that it is extremely important to wash all of the soap off. The acids that are in it are quite powerful, so I can immediately feel my skin is a bit unflexible, meaning it needs water. My skin feels great otherwhise. It’s completely oil free and it has a nice fresh feeling.

Next up is the alcohol-free Calendula Herbal-Extact Toner. Idris Henry (from Kiehl’s) advised this toner because I use the Neo Strata product (not available at Kiehl’s), which is based on fruit acids, afterwards. This is a pharmaceutical product that was advised by my dermatologist and which is also really strong. For other people, Idris recommended the Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion. The Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner is a transparent yellow-brown toner and has pieces of flowers and roots in it. It has a herbal scent. I apply the toner with a small cotton and gently press it onto my face (no rubbing!). After that my skin feels a bit stingy and even more thirsty.

Then I use my Neo Strata product from my dermatologist. This baby is so strong I need to wear sunblock afterwards. That’s also why I picked the Ultra Light Daily UV Defense and not the Blue Herbal Moisturizer. I only use this once and a while, depending on how bad the situation is. Up to max 3 times a week.

After the Neo Strata acid gel, I use the Ultra Light Daily UV Defense sunblock. Seriously the best sunblock for the face ever. It’s creamy but its texture is so light that the skin immediately absorbs it. And it doesn’t make my skin feel oily at all. The scent is nice, but not overruling, so nobody will notice you’re wearing sunblock. Even for peeps who are not using fruit acid gels, the Ultra Light Daily UV Defense is perfect to protect your skin from the sun without fearing that your skin will become oily. An absolute must for the summer!

And to add the final touch: the moisturizer. Currently I use an oil-free moisturizer from Shiseido. Moisturing your face might be the final step, but it’s also the most important one. The products above are pretty strong, so it’s really important to keep your face hydrated and protect your skin from bacteria. Because when you wash your face, you take away your special protection foil that’s around your skin. People with oily skin produce a little bit more of the protection layer than people with normal skin. So when you remove the layer by washing your face, your skin tries harder to replace it, which can create even more oils. If you apply an oil-free moisturizer instead, you help your skin balance the oil production. Your skin will create less oils, but you still stay protected from bacteria.



I’ve been using these products from Kiehl’s for a little over a month now (twice a day) and it’s amazing what they have done for my skin. Of course I’m not completely acne-free, since it’s not magic in a jar and there is not a single product out there today that can guarantee that. But still, I’m very happy with the result. My exams are over now and I only have a couple of inflammations left. My skin feels fresh, it takes longer to become oily and the wounds (red blemishes) heal faster. What more do you need?

I started to use them on January 3rd and stopped using them on February 9th because the worst period is behind me and I’ve noticed my skin started to become dry and on some parts, flaky. My advice here is that, when this happens, it might be time to let your skin take a break and use your other products for a while. You might not notice it right away when you’re looking at your skin, but when you try to put on makeup and the foundation is flaky on some parts, it’s time to let your skin take a breather. Again, these products are highly effective for very oily skin, so it’s better to use them in a way to suit your skin’s needs. For example, if you have an oily T-zone, only apply the products there.

Nevertheless, the Kiehl’s products did their job extremely well, so I would definitely recommend them to anyone with oily skin or acne. The 250ml bottles will help you for about 2 months if you’re using them every day twice a day. I have about 25% left. But like I said, you probably won’t be needing them that long in a row anyway. They’re not cheap, but I think they’re worth their price. An expensive product that works is ten times better that a lot of cheap products that don’t work, I always say!

Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser 250ml €29,50
Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner (alcohol-free) 250ml €37,50
Ultra Light Daily UV Defense 30ml €29



  1. March 9, 2011 / 5:07 pm

    The Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser worked well for me as well. I have very oily skin and this cleans it better than anything else I have seen!!

  2. March 9, 2011 / 9:02 pm

    The Ultra Light Daily UV Defense sounds like something I would be interested in.. UV blocks I have been using are so greasy I have a hard time making myself use them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *