Kiehl’s was created in 1851 by apothecary owner John Kiehl, who opened the flagship store in New York’s East Village and doled out intense old world remedies such as blood-sucking leeches and “attraction powder”. In the early 20th century, herbologist Irving A. Morse began to work with Kiehl, formulating preparations of herbal remedies and medicines derived from botanicals. He would eventually take over when Kiehl retired.

Kiehl's is now owned by cosmetic giant L’Oréal.

The Good:

The brand is best known for the amount of time staff lavishes on its customers, sticking to its pharmacy style heritage of dispensing advice. An eagerness to give out samples adheres to the Kiehl’s “try before you buy” sampling philosophy, which is still in practice.

The company’s dedication to various causes has drawn big names; in 2008, with the collaboration of celeb-do-gooder Brad Pitt, the brand introduced “Aloe Vera” Biodegradable Liquid Body Cleanser. All the net profits from the sale of this formulation would benefit JPF Eco Systems, a charity to support global environmental initiatives.

Due in part to it’s storied history (and perhaps unwavering success), the brand has had 103 of its products and artifacts inducted into the Smithsonian Museum’s permanent collection of American pharmacological products.

The Bad:

Ingredients don’t always stack up unfortunately and you’ll be paying a lot for products that aren’t really all that. Essentially you’ll be paying for a fancy brand that’s trying to hold on to vintage ideals and not a lot else.

The Truth:

While the brand’s attempts at eco-friendly skincare has star power backing, we aren’t sure the ingredients are up to par. Their recyclable packaging and recent gold Cradle to Cradle certification for minimal waste from start to finish deserve definite kudos, but the company’s inclusion of parabens in its older products (the sodium PCA moisturizer and calendula toner) make us cringe in disappointment (the Close Shaver’s Squadron shave cream being a case in point). It also seems to us that the brand overprices products that are, well, mediocre. For example, Kiehl’s lip balm barely conveys any benefits beyond a mundane jar of Vaseline.

In a face off with Epionce’s eye cream, Kiehl’s eye cream failed to impress. In fact, Kiehl’s enveloped our reviewer’s eyes in an irritating vapor and formed a gooey barrier that suffocated and clogged pores. She concluded that she Kiehl’s tub around just in case her eye skin suddenly craves some S&M.

On the other hand, Jimmy confesses to being a secret admirer and reviewed and recommended the Facial Fuel moisturizer with SPF.