The Story Behind Cult Skincare Favorite Kiehl’s

For over 170 years, the Kiehl’s brand has been a beloved favorite for quality skincare. Known for its no-fuss packaging and straight-forward products, this brand offers effective skincare rooted in tradition and innovation.

Kiehl’s was founded as an apothecary in 1851 by John Kiehl. At his shop on Third Avenue in New York City, Kiehl created customized herbal remedies and skincare preparations. He passed on his passion for skincare to the next generation, who continued expanding the business.

In the 1960s, Kiehl’s notoriety grew when its iconic Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion became a staple for celebrities and style icons like Andy Warhol. The unisex product, with its light herbal scent, was a favorite to soothe skin after shaving. Kiehl’s has since createdspecially beloved skincare products that withstand the test of time, gaining a devoted cult following.

What sets Kiehl’s apart is its focus on high concentrations of quality natural ingredients paired with scientific innovation. One of Kiehl’s standout natural ingredients is calendula, a bright orange flower with soothing properties. Featured in products like the Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, calendula from Kiehl’s family farm imparts deep hydration.

Another Kiehl’s hero ingredient is ultra-fine glacial glycoprotein, harvested from icebergs off the coast of Greenland. This natural extract helps skin create more moisture, plumping the complexion. It’s the star of Midnight Recovery Concentrate, one of Kiehl’s all-time bestsellers.

In recent years, Kiehl’s has focused on sustainable and ethical sourcing for its natural ingredients. The brand partners with non-profits like REDD+ to support reforestation efforts that restore ingredients like shea butter. Kiehl’s is also part of the L’Oreal corporate sustainability program Sharing Beauty with All.

At the same time, Kiehl’s remains dedicated to scientific innovation in skincare. The brand holds the distinction of being one of the first to formulate skincare products with ingredients like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid long before they were trendy.

Balancing natural, sustainable ingredients with skincare science gives Kiehl’s an edge. Products like the Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution combine vitamin C from citrus peel with white birch extract for visibly more even skin tone.

Packaging is also central to the Kiehl’s experience. The brand favors simple, unfussy bottles and jars with clean, pharmacy-inspired labels. Vintage Kiehl’s packaging in seafoam green or bold red looks just as fresh today as decades ago.

Minimalist packaging allows the products to be the star. Shoppers can sample testers without extra packaging or perfumes getting in the way of the actual skincare experience. Generous samples encourage customers to try products first before committing.

This no-frills packaging approach mirrors Kiehl’s in-store aesthetic. Dark wood, white walls and sliding ladders create an old-world apothecary feel. Friendly, experienced staff offer personalized consultations to find the right products for each customer’s needs.

From its start as a single NYC apothecary, Kiehl’s has expanded globally while retaining its heritage. The brand now has over 250 stores worldwide, including flagships in Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo and Sydney. Yet all the stores aim to replicate the original no-fuss Kiehl’s experience.

Part of what keeps Kiehl’s so popular is this consistency paired with innovation. The brand stays committed to its roots of quality ingredients, approachable skincare and personable service. At the same time, new products and fresh collaborations keep Kiehl’s feeling current.

Recent partnerships include lines with streetwear label PRIDE and a sustainability-focused collection for Earth Day. Limited editions that celebrate Kiehl’s history, like products in retro packaging, delight longtime fans.

From best-selling favorites to the latest skincare innovations, Kiehl’s continues making cult classics after over 170 years. With its natural ingredients, science-backed formulas and classic apothecary feel, Kiehl’s delivers skincare that simply works.

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