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Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum Ingredients Explained

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Published on July 13, 2020

Overview

What it is

Serum with 21 ingredients that contains hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C

Cool Features

It is reef safe

Suited For

It has ingredients that are good for anti aging, dry skin, brightening skin, scar healing, dark spots and better texture

Free From

It doesn't contain any harsh alcohols, parabens or sulfates

Fun facts

Kiehl's is from United States. This product is used in 55 routines created by our community.

We independently verify ingredients and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Does this product need an update? Let us know.

You should know

Here's our breakdown of the notable ingredients, benefits, and concerns we determined from the ingredients in this product. Click any item to learn more.

Notable Ingredients

Vitamin C (2)
Hyaluronic Acid

Benefits

Hydrating
Redness Reducing (2)
Skin Texture (2)
Anti-Aging (3)
Dark Spots (2)
Scar Healing (3)
Brightening (3)

Concerns

May Worsen Oily Skin
Acne Trigger
Eczema

Ingredient Info

Click any item below to learn more and view relevant ingredients.
alcohol-free
silicon-free
fragrance-free
sulfate-free
paraben-free
oil-free
fungal-acne safe
reef-safe
eu-allergen-free
vegan
cruelty-free

Ingredients Overview

Here's our quick-to-read summary of the ingredients in this product. Keep scrolling if you'd like to learn more about what each ingredient does!
Ingredient
Features
1
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
0 / 0
May worsen Eczema Icon
2
Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
1 / 0
Silicon Icon
3
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
0 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
4
Antioxidant, Buffering, Masking, Skin Conditioning
Vitamin C IconAntioxidant IconHelps reduce Skin Redness IconGood for Skin Texture IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps brighten skin Icon
5
Emollient
2-3 / 0
May worsen Oily Skin IconBad for Acne Prone Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
6
Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning
Silicon Icon
7
Emulsion Stabilising
8
Antioxidant
Vitamin C IconAntioxidant IconHelps reduce Skin Redness IconGood for Skin Texture IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps brighten skin Icon
9
Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Silicon Icon
10
Buffering
11
Skin Conditioning
12
13
14
Skin Conditioning
Helps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Scar Healing Icon
15
Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Hyaluronic Acid Icon
16
Perfuming, Solvent
Fragrance Icon
17
18
Masking, Skin Conditioning
Oil Icon
19
Masking, Perfuming, Skin Conditioning
Fragrance IconOil IconEU Allergen Icon
20
Perfuming
Fragrance IconEU Allergen Icon
21
Antioxidant
Antioxidant Icon

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 21 ingredients. Click on any ingredient to learn more about it
1
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Propylene Glycol is an odorless, colorless liquid. As a humectant, it helps skin retain moisture. It also aids in delivering active ingredients.

Another role of this ingredient is preventing a product from melting or freezing. Propylene glycol also adds antimicrobrial properties to a product, elongating product lifespan.

This ingredient is considered an organic alcohol and commonly added into both cosmetics and foods.

Those with sensitive skin or conditions may deliver a rash when using this ingredient.

Learn more about Propylene Glycol
2
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Dimethicone is a silicone used for making products smooth and silky. It also has the added benefit of sealing in hydration. The amount of dimethicone found in beauty products is considered safe and non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores.

Dimethicone has been found increase absorption in skin, boosting the benefits of other ingredients. While there is concern for the safety of dimethicone, the levels used in skincare are safe for use.

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What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

A study from 2016 found glycerin to be more effective as a humectant than AHAs and hyaluronic acid.

As a humectant, it helps the skin stay hydrated by pulling moisture to your skin. The low molecular weight of glycerin allows it to pull moisture into the deeper layers of your skin.

Hydrated skin improves your skin barrier; Your skin barrier helps protect against irritants and bacteria.

Glycerin has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Due to these properties, glycerin is often used in wound and burn treatments.

In cosmetics, glycerin is usually derived from plants such as soybean or palm. However, it can also be sourced from animals, such as tallow or animal fat.

This ingredient is organic, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic.

Glycerin is the name for this ingredient in American English. British English uses Glycerol/Glycerine.

Learn more about Glycerin
4
What it does: Antioxidant, Buffering, Masking, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Ascorbic Acid is is pure Vitamin C. This form makes up the largest amount of vitamin C found naturally in our skin.

Not only is vitamin C great for your overall health and immune system, it also has plenty of benefits on your skin.

Vitamin C is best used for brightening skin. It improves dark spots, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation. This is because it blocks the process of skin darkening when exposed to UV.

Remember: Vitamin C should not replace sunscreen!

Your skin uses vitamin C to build collagen. Collagen is one key component in having a strong skin barrier and plump skin. Vitamin C also plays a role in regulating collagen, thus making it effective in improving wrinkles and fine lines.

Ascorbic acid shows potent antioxidant activity. As an antioxidant, it helps fight free-radicals. Free-radicals are molecules that may damage your skin cells. These antioxidants also protect skin against UV damage.

The best formulations include Vitamin E and/or ferulic acid. These two ingredients help stabilize and provide a boost in the benefits of ascorbic acid. This is because ascorbic acid becomes unstable when exposed to UV and air. In fact, you can tell your ascorbic acid has oxidized when it turns an orange-yellow color.

Ascorbic acid is generally compatible with other ingredients. However, using ascorbic acid with other active ingredients might cause irritation. Two ingredients: copper ions and benzoyl peroxide, will inactivate ascorbic acid completely.

Read more about other types of Vitamin C:

Foods rich with vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, broccoli, bell peppers, and more. When consuming Vitamin C, your skin receives a portion of the nutrients.

Learn more about Ascorbic Acid
5
What it does: Emollient
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Ethylhexyl Palmitate is created from 2-ethylhexyl alcohol and palmitic acid. It is a fatty acid ester.

The fatty acid content of Ethylhexyl Palmitate makes it an emollient. Emollients help soften and hydrate your skin by trapping moisture within.

Ethylhexyl Palmitate is also used to help improve the texture of cosmetics. It helps other ingredient dissolve in products and help disperse ingredients more evenly. In fact, it is commonly used to evenly mix sunscreen ingredients such as avobenzone and ethylhexyl triazone. It can also help stabilize the fragrances in a product as a fragrance fixative.

Ethylhexyl Palmitate can be used to substitute mineral oil.

Learn more about Ethylhexyl Palmitate
6
What it does: Emulsifying, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Disliked

This ingredient is a high molecular weight silicone. It has emulsifying and skin conditioning properties.

7
What it does: Emulsion Stabilising
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Dimethicone Crosspolymer is a silicone created by modifying dimethicone with hydrocarbon side chains. Due to its large size, it does not penetrate skin. It is considered non-occlusive.

Dimethicone Crosspolymer is used to stabilize and thicken products. It also helps give products a silky feel.

8
What it does: Antioxidant
Community Rating: Liked

Ascorbyl Glucoside is a stable form of Vitamin C. It is created by combining glucose from starch.

When applied to skin, Ascorbyl Glucoside turns into Ascorbic Acid.

Ascorbyl Glucoside is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free-radicals, or molecules that may damage skin cells.

It can help to reduce redness, improve skin texture, reduce the effects of aging, reduce the visibility of dark spots, and brighten skin.

Read more about other types of Vitamin C:

Learn more about Ascorbyl Glucoside
9
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Disliked

Cyclohexasiloxane is a type of silicone more commonly known as D6. It is an emollient and solvent.

Cyclohexasiloxane is used to evenly distribute ingredients throughout the product. When applied to the skin, Cyclohexasiloxane evaporates and leaves behind a silky feel.

As an emollient, it can help the skin feel soft and hydrated. It is also used to reduce frizz in hair products.

Learn more about Cyclohexasiloxane
10
What it does: Buffering
Community Rating: Liked

We don't have a description for Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid.

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What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Very Disliked

This ingredient comes from a fatty acid (lauric acid) and amino acid (lysine). It is used to add a silky feel to cosmetics.

According to a manufacturer, its fatty acid base leaves a silky feeling on the skin. It also has emollient properties because of this. Emollients help soften skin by preventing water from evaporating.

Lauroyl lysine is barely soluble in water.

Learn more about Lauroyl Lysine

We don't have a description for Acrylonitrile/Methyl Methacrylate/Vinylidene Chloride Copolymer.

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What it does:
Community Rating: Disliked

We don't have a description for Polysilicone-11.

14
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Adenosine is in every living organism. It is one of four components in nucleic acids that helps store our DNA.

Adenosine has many benefits when used. These benefits include hydrating the skin, smoothing skin, and reducing wrinkles. Once applied, adenosine increases collagen production. It also helps with improving firmness and tissue repair.

Studies have found adenosine may also help with wound healing.

In skincare products, Adenosine is usually derived from yeast.

Learn more about Adenosine
15
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid is a form of hyaluronic acid. It is created by the hydrolysis of hyaluronic acid with a high molecular weight. Once created, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid has a low molecular weight.

Low molecular weight HA has been shown to hydrate and increase elasticity of the skin. Increasing elasticity is also associated with reduction of wrinkle depth.

One study found topical low molecular weight hyaluronic acid may be considered for the treatment of rosacea in the adult population. However, we always recommend speaking with a professional about your skin concerns.

Hyaluronic acids are a humectant. This means they draw moisture from the air. Hyaluronic acids help moisturize, soothe, and protect the skin.

Read more about other common forms of hyaluronic acid:

Learn more about Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid
16
What it does: Perfuming, Solvent
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Limonene is a fragrance that adds scent and taste to a formulation.

It's found in the peel oil of citrus fruits and other plants such as lavender and eucalyptus. The scent of limonene is generally described as "sweet citrus".

Limonene acts as an antioxidant, meaning it helps neutralize free radicals.

When exposed to air, oxidized limonene may sensitize the skin. Because of this, limonene is often avoided by people with sensitive skin.

The term 'fragrance' is not regulated in many countries. In many cases, it is up to the brand to define this term. For instance, many brands choose to label themselves as "fragrance-free" because they are not using synthetic fragrances. However, their products may still contain ingredients such as essential oils that are considered a fragrance.

Learn more about Limonene
17
What it does:

We don't have a description for Isobutane.

18
What it does: Masking, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil is oil from the peel of an orange fruit.

Limonene and linalool make up the majority of oils from citrus peels. Limonene has a "citrus" fragrance. Citrus peels also contain flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Citrus peel is also a rich source of flavonoids. Flavonoids are natural antioxidants and help protect your skin against damage. Flavonoids are a group of compounds naturally found in vegetables and fruits.

The term 'fragrance' is not regulated in many countries. In many cases, it is up to the brand to define this term. For instance, many brands choose to label themselves as "fragrance-free" because they are not using synthetic fragrances. However, their products may still contain ingredients such as essential oils that are considered a fragrance.

Learn more about Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil
19
What it does: Masking, Perfuming, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Citrus Limon Peel Oil is created from the peels of the lemon. It is used to add a lemon-scent to products. Lemon peel oil also has antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. However, it may also cause phototoxicity and sensitize skin.

Lemon peel oil contains limonene, a skin sensitizing ingredient. Another component is furanocoumarin, which induces phototoxicity in skin.

Furanocoumarins bind and destabilize your DNA to increase the rate of sunburn.

Most reputable companies will remove furanocoumarins from their formulations.

Learn more about Citrus Limon Peel Oil
20
What it does: Perfuming

Citral is a fragrance and used to add a lemon-like scent to products. It is both naturally found in plants and created synthetically. In plants, it is commonly occurring in lemon myrtle, lemongrass, lemon tea-tree, lemon verbena, and other citruses.

The EU mandates Citral be listed separately as a fragrance. It is a known allergen and may cause contact dermatitis. Citral can also used as a masking ingredient.

The term 'fragrance' is not regulated in many countries. In many cases, it is up to the brand to define this term. For instance, many brands choose to label themselves as "fragrance-free" because they are not using synthetic fragrances. However, their products may still contain ingredients such as essential oils that are considered a fragrance.

The term 'citral' is a collective term for two geometric isomers: geranial/Citral A and neral/Citral B.

Learn more about Citral
21
What it does: Antioxidant
Community Rating: Liked

Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate (long name, huh?) is a synthetic antioxidant.

It is used to help stabilize other antioxidants or prevent the color from changing in a product.

As an antioxidant, it helps fight free-radical molecules. Free-radical molecules are capable of damaging our cells and other genetic material. Thus, antioxidants may reduce the signs of aging.

This ingredient is oil-soluble.

Learn more about Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate
Embed Ingredients

Here's what our community thinks of the 21 ingredients in this product ✨

33% are loved or liked
0% have mixed ratings
52% are disliked or very disliked
14% have no rating yet

When to use

We've created a guide with info on when you should use Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum. We've also included some recommended products to use it with, as well as some routine inspiration!

Read our guide on when to use Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum ->
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