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The Kiehl's appeal

Cat Johnson on why the 157-year-old brand is still her best beauty buy

Published on December 11th 2008.

The Kiehl's appeal

I haven’t been very kind to my skin over the years. At the ripe old age of 31 it’s a small miracle that my face doesn’t resemble the skin of an avocado. A Marlboro Light smoking adolescence, occasional nights spent sleeping in full MAC and a decade of tanorexia courtesy of my local solarium, have presented some challenging dermatological issues.

Thankfully, I’ve emerged from these crimes against beauty relatively unscathed, but I take none of the credit for it. To assuage the sins of my callow youth, a brand established in 1851 came to the rescue.

Kiehl’s have been trading for 157 years, yes 157 years, a remarkable feat in the notoriously fickle beauty industry, where the turnover of new brands and miracle products is staggering in its frequency. And from those humble beginnings as an apothecary in New York’s East Village, to its current incarnation of globally recognised brand, it’s picked up a doting customer base.

It’s enduring appeal lies in the progressive attitude to its formulations. Whilst some company’s are myopic in their approach, Kiehl’s are more open-minded and source the best ingredients from whichever field most benefits a product, whether it be cosmetic, pharmaceutical, herbal, or medicinal. This combination results in high performance creations that really deliver on the hyperbole, It's refreshing in an industry where company’s often rely on gimmicky marketing and cutesy packaging to sell products that just don’t perform.

And I speak with some authority on this, having spent a large slice of my twenties loitering in Space NK on Saturday afternoons, chewing the fat with the assistants about the myriad of weird and wonderful products on display. I, like other women when presented with this world of choice, spent an obscene amount of money on creams and potions that promised the Earth, looked pretty on my bathroom cabinet, but never worked. Because Space NK is to women, what a pick and mix counter is to small children. You just can’t help yourself.

What’s also impressive is that despite diversifying into male, baby and pet care products (yep, even your Labrador can get in on the act) they haven’t diluted the brand ethos and have continued to offer the same quality and value throughout. Perhaps this is why, after years of flirting with other brands, I always returned to Kiehl’s. The number of their products that could claim cult status is pretty impressive and they regularly top industry polls with their products. In Style magazine voted Crème du corps body lotion tops in 2008 and as a devotee of this rich and luxurious wonder lotion I’d be inclined to agree with them.

Aside from loving their products (my bathroom shelf is buckling under the weight of various bottles and tubs), I also applaud their philanthropic stance. Currently their lip balm (another cult buy) is being sold with all profits going to the Terence Higgins trust. They’ve also teamed up with THT to produce a selections of canvas shoppers, designed exclusively by celebrities and filled with Kiehl's products which were auctioned between November 22nd and December 1st in support of World AIDS Day. Products that deliver and worthy to boot, what’s not to like?

Locally we’re blessed, with a number of outlets stocking the brand; Harvey Nichols and Space NK being amongst them. But I personally favour the site in House of Fraser. Managed by Anthony, formerly of Space NK in St Ann’s Square and owner of the bluest eyes in Manchester, he brings his formidable expertise to the brand, imparting clear and honest advice. The concession, only 6 months old, is spacious and funky in the style of a doctors waiting room (and I‘m talking BUPA not NHS walk-in centre). Anthony and his team are always on hand with an impressive knowledge of their product range. Best of all, they aren’t pushy and sniffy as some top-end beauty concessions can be, and the atmosphere is informal and relaxed. But please don’t take my word for this. Another Kiehl’s policy is to offer generous samples, allowing you to road test the products before committing your hard-earned cash. So with money too tight to mention and people looking for value in their beauty pound, Kiehl’s might be just the thing you’re looking for?

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fraggle rocketteDecember 11th 2008.

I bet you get loads of freebies! I want some ;(

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