REVIEW: Kiehl’s Glow Formula Skin Hydrator

Fresh launch alert: Kiehl’s recently released their Glow Formula Skin Hydrator, a quite unique product within their extensive range. They generously sent me a bottle to try nearly a month ago, and I’d argue that nearly a month of twice daily use is a solid base for a review. Allow me to break it all down for you!

I was sent the full size 50ml bottle (and a lovely bar of chocolate which, would definitely repurchase) with a short introduction on a picture card, and not much was known about the product at the time. I saw some articles mentioning it being used as a makeup product, an area Kiehl’s hasn’t really touched before aside from their BB cream.

Multipurpose Bottle Of Glow

It’s not exactly a makeup product, but it’s still quite a special addition to the current Kiehl’s lineup. It’s a hydrating cream that is suited for all skin types and boasts the most beautiful subtle glow. This brand usually focuses on a more clinical approach, so seeing them branch into this is lovely.

There are multiple ways to use this: by itself as a hydrating cream that will add some visible glow, applied over your moisturizer (if you have dry skin par example) or mixed in with your foundation to make it more luminous and less drying. I’d even suggest to use it as a primer or illuminator, like the MAC Strobe Creams.

It has a salmoney tint to it and a shimmer that is almost undetectable until the sun catches it. The tint hardly shows up on the skin (so don’t worry if you’re deeper toned,) and the illuminating minerals that give the product its glow were well chosen. It’s a product you apply over your entire face, to have it be shimmery all over would have been a disaster.

My Experience

After opening the unexpected package I immediately applied some to my face out of curiosity about the appearance. Later that day just being lazy around the house, I noticed a distinct difference when feeling the area I had applied it to. My skin is prone to dryness and dehydration, and it had (despite me not having had washed off my layers of daytime skincare at the time) absorbed into my skin and softened it.

I’m not going to pretend you can’t get a good hydrating product for a fraction of the price, or that this effect is unique to this luxury product, but it did provide me with excellent hydration and was well absorbed by my skin.
I continued using it twice daily in addition to my moisturizer. There were some sunny days where my skin didn’t feel as parched as usual, and I enjoyed wearing it by itself with only sunscreen over top. It just made me look the exact opposite of dull.

I developed no major new thoughts simply by continued use. It was doing its job well but there needs to be more to it for me to recommend it to you. So I dug deeper.

Ingredient Breakdown

Too much reading for you? Just skip ahead!

KIEHL’S GLOW FORMULA SKIN HYDRATOR: Aqua/Water, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Octyldodecanol, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Squalane, Glyceryl Stearate, Propanediol, Salix Alba Bark Extract/Willow Bark Extract, Mica, Arachidyl Alcohol, CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Tocopherol, Behenyl Alcohol, Parfum/Fragrance**, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Arachidyl Glucoside, Limonene, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, CI 77491/Iron Oxides, Potassium Sorbate, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Glycine Soja Oil/Soybean Oil, Phytic Acid, Citral, Sodium Benzoate, Linalool, Punica Granatum Fruit Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia Fruit Extract/Acerola Fruit Extract.

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredient list. Bear in mind I’m in no way a qualified expert, but I can definitely tell you a little more about what it means.

Right off the bat, this product is free from sulfates and parabens and contains no simple alcohols. Simple alcohols can be sensitizing and drying, a lot of people benefit from avoiding them.

What is in this?

Dicprylyl Carbonate, Octyldodecanol, Glycerin, Capric Triglyceride, Squalane, Glyceryl Stearate, Propanediol, Arachidyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucose, Xanthan Gum: I get that they sound intimidating. These, however, are all high quality ingredients that make the product hydrating and moisturizing, and a well absorbed cream with a good texture.
It’s actually quite an impressive little group, all of them have good reputations. It’s also clear from the listing that they focused on having an effectively hydrating and cosmetically elegant product. None of them are flagged as particularly comedogenic or irritating, they score high in rating systems.

Soybean oil is also among this group, but I seperated it to mention this is an ingredient that could maybe, potentially, be a little clogging if you have oily and acne-prone skin. This ingredient is quite low in the list however, which means it’s only a tiny portion of the product. It’s nothing to worry about too much, but good to know in exceptionally sensitive cases.

CI 77491/Iron Oxides is the ingredient that gives the product its soft orange color, and mica is the mineral that’s probably most responsible for the shimmer of the product. CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide is most likely also used as a colorant in here, as I see no mention of any sun protection (which Titanium Dioxide is also capable of.)

Willow Bark Extract is used as a soothing ingredient. Phytic Acid, Soybean Oil, Malus Domestica (Apple) Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract and Acerola Fruit Extract are the antioxidants that provide the protection they mention.
Antioxidants protect your skin from free radical damage, which can cause sun damage, signs of aging and cell damage. Incorporating antioxidants can be beneficial for anyone regardless of age/sex/skin tone: it’s not about cosmetic benefit, we’re talking about continuous cell damage that you can slow down and counter.

While antioxidants are universally beneficial for the skin we don’t know for sure what concentrations we’re looking at. I can therefore say this product supports the long term maintenance of the radiance and health of your skin, but I can’t guarantee that it’s a good targeted treatment or defense system.

They market this as a pomegranate product, but unfortunately it’s the second to last ingredient in the list.The pomegranate theme is definitely attractive, but the ingredient in this concentration is of little impact in the formulation. Let’s just call it a beautiful source of inspiration from nature as they use the colors, textures and scent to create a radiant and fresh formula.
The phytic acid higher up in the ingredients may be derived from pomegranates as well, unfortunately I can’t prove that.

The other ingredients are either fragrance, pH-balancing or preservatives. The only concerns I have within the ingredient list are Linalool, Citral, Limonene and “Fragrance.” These citrusy scents are incredibly common, but they might be sensitizing for people who tend to react to fragranced products. If you have a high sensitivity to skin care products they might be part of your problem. For the average person they do no harm.

So what does that mean?

Overall? Pretty impressed. When looking at this ingredient list there are no major red flags apart from maybe fragrance (which you almost can’t avoid these days.) It doesn’t have any crazy transformative active ingredients, but it’s also not formulated with sensitizing garbage or too many ingredients. There’s a clear focus on providing a comfortable deep hydration with the added bonus of antioxidants.

So: Do You Need This?

As I mentioned when breaking down the ingredients, this product doesn’t have any insanely transformative active ingredients. Its main purpose is hydrating and it does that very well. But does that really justify such a hefty price tag? What distinguishes this from any other hydrating product on the market right now?

Like I said, there needs to be more to it before I tell you to run out and buy something. I started analyzing it more and concluded that there is something special to it.

Here the product is spread out over my hand and arm. Peep the subtlest glow.
There’s two things: the formula and the glowy sheen.

First of all, the texture is very lightweight and the product absorbs and delivers well, leaving the skin feeling softened. It doesn’t leave you feeling sticky, slippery-siliconey or suffocated. It’s the perfect balance of deep hydration and cosmetic elegance, and that sweet spot can definitely be worth it for many.
I am easy with choosing impact over cosmetic elegance, so I hadn’t really thought about how valuable it can be to have something just apply and wear comfortably. In this formula the comfortable use does not take away from the effectiveness. Props to Kiehl’s for that.

Moving on to the subtle sheen of it: it adds a soft touch of radiance. Its low intensity is flattering, making you look fresh and healthy instead of wet or greasy. It only really becomes intense with direct sunlight. The formula of it plus the glow make it a flattering product to wear, living up to the expectations of instant glow they’re marketing it as.

The antioxidants, they are a great added bonus, but a serum would (for example) be a more efficient delivery system if you’re specifically looking for those. It’s still great that they’re part of it, though!

My final conclusion is therefore that the formula and glow of it make it worthwhile.

It just makes your skin feel like skin. Soft, supple, hydrated and radiant, but yours. It doesn’t leave you feeling coated. It’s not a clogging or suffocating layer of product at all, make up applies over it nicely and there is an immediate perceived difference after application. That’s what makes it stand out to me, along with its universal and multi purpose nature.

So, if that makes a difference to you, this will be worth it. Keep in mind the only thing it will majorly alter is the hydration levels of your skin: it targets dullness and dryness. Don’t expect anything else!

Kiehl’s, as a proper skincare brand, is generous with their samples. I always advise to try samples or sample sizes to ensure a product doesn’t cause a reaction and see whether it fits into your routine. Go hit up your local Kiehl’s counter and find out if it works for you! It might be your next summer obsession.

It retails for $38 and €35.

Disclaimer: Always think realistically about your budget and where your financial priorities should be. I received this product in PR, but that does not influence my opinion. Kiehl’s is active in mainland China and therefore not suitable for vegans.

One Reply to “REVIEW: Kiehl’s Glow Formula Skin Hydrator”

  1. I have been refreshing Diphylleia in anticipation for far too long to not leave this comment. Jaz, I just have to say I really enjoy the content you put out. Not only am I inspired by the obvious amount of care you put into your content, but in all honesty, you´re a bit of my icon fashion-wise too (thank you, Twitter).

    In the world of make-up it´s rather difficult not to get swept away by all the promo-chit-chat. Your content has provided some clarity for me on which make-up to purchase and which skincare routine to follow, and, more importantly, why. I also commend you for not just recommending one product and saying ´oh yeah, this product is great, this will definitely work´, but actually acknowledging that everyone is different – so naturally, your make-up and skincare needs differ too. In my experience, that´s very rare to come across.

    As your Youtube and Diphylleia have been quiet for a few weeks now, I just thought I´d let you know that I haven´t forgotten this place exists. In any case, I hope you´re doing okay. And I´m really looking forward to see what you´ll come up with next!

    Lots of love.

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