Good morning! Yesterday I discussed how companies use dangerous/questionable ingredients in their products, for which they are never held accountable. Today, I want to teach you about a practice the industry uses to part you from your $$ in a particularly dastardly way. I am going to use a product from Kiehl’s to do so, but just like yesterday, it’s important to remember that ALL companies do this. Kiehl’s is not more evil than Philosophy, or Origins, or Lancome, or even La Mer. The industry turns on profit margins, not safety or honesty.

I want to take a good look at Kiehl’s Calendula Serum-infused Water Cream. (What the hell is with that name? Literal gobbledygook.) For $48/1.7 oz, this product claims to ‘boost skin radiance and even out skin tone’ while providing ‘24 hour hydration.’ It claims to be able to lower redness in only 2 weeks. Sounds great, right? Now let’s look at the ingredients. The FDA requires that labels list ingredients in descending order of concentration, so the ingredients at the top of the list are present in the highest concentrations. The lower limit for an ingredient to be on the label is a concentration of 0.5%. We see water, then Dimethicone, a silicone with a long track record of being irritating to skin, but it’s cheap and stable, so there it is. Next we have glycerin and propylene glycol. Both of these ingredients pull moisture from lower skin layers to plump the top layers, which leads to increased skin dryness over time. These two ingredients serve to plump skin, making it appear hydrated, so there is your ‘24 hour hydration.’ So far, this $48 moisturizer has mostly silicone to leave a soft after-feel and two ingredients that hijack your own skin’s moisture to give the appearance of hydration. Yet, in their slickly produced marketing, they claim all these benefits are from the awesome ‘micronized calendula’.

Now I want you to look at the bottom of the ingredient list. See ‘bisabolol’? Bisabolol is a really great anti-inflammatory active that is added to formulas at a 0.5% MAXIMUM concentration. That means that everything below bisabolol on the list is also present at or below a 0.5% concentration in the formula. Notice how everything that resembles the botanicals they’ve been hyping in this product is below bisabolol? This means that in your $48 jar of moisturizer, all the good stuff is present at extremely low concentrations. So what, right? Well, not so much. Skin’s whole purpose in life is to be a barrier to prevent things from harming you. It isn’t easy to get actives into skin cells. They have to be fairly small, at a high concentration in the formula so a concentration gradient occurs where the actives are forced into a cell by virtue of the system trying to reach equilibrium, or a penetration enhancer needs to be added (sometimes all 3). A concentration of 0.5% will not do ANYTHING good for your skin. Companies do this all the time, where they make all these claims about benefits from whatever the latest fad active is, all the while using silicones and humectants that are super-cheap to make you think the product is working. Again, remember that profit is the driving force in this industry, not human health.

While I don’t expect you to be able to determine this information by yourself, I wanted to show you in detail the kind of f**kery the industry engages in to take your money. Again, EVERY company does this, not just Kiehl’s. So before you drop $$$ on some product, understand that 90% of the big companies out there are lying their asses off and assuming you’re too stupid to know they’re fleecing you. Chances are you’re buying a really expensive jar of nothing.


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