Kiehl’s Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream retails at $95. The 50ml moisturiser – for day and/or night use, and any skin type/ condition – promises a more hydrated, radiant and smoother complexion.
Kiehl’s take: healing Manuka honey + immunity-boosting Korean red ginseng = increased resilience.
“Healthy-looking skin is characterised by radiance, vibrancy, and smooth, supple texture,” says Dr Geoff Genesky, Kiehl’s head chemist. But how does one tell if skin is of good health? “It is defined by a capacity to resist and recover from damage. Healthy skin is more resistant to damage and environmental factors because its barrier and defence systems are strong.
“The skin’s natural immunity and its ability to function optimally are reduced from as early as our 20s. The renewal cycle slows, which weakens the barrier, making it more permeable, less resistant and less able to recognise irritants and neutralise them. That’s how sensitivity is increased.” With the goal of helping skin behave optimally – the way healthy skin naturally does – Kiehl’s chemists focused on a more macro approach to the look and feel of the skin, as opposed to tackling the typical antiageing attributes, for its latest product, Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream, a moisturiser.
That focus led the American brand’s chemists to ingredients that are known for their reported ability to increase skin’s resistance and recovery from damage: New Zealand’s Manuka honey and Korean red ginseng root. “These are true powerhouse ingredients with strong scientific profiles,” says Dr Genesky.
“New Zealand Manuka honey is no ordinary honey. For over 30 years, it has been known for its strong efficacy, and physicians today still value it as a potent skin treatment. Korean red ginseng root has been used for thousands of years in traditional Asian medicine, and has been demonstrated to be the most powerful ginseng in the world in terms of biological actives.”
Manuka honey, a dark, creamy mono-floral honey (its nectar comes from one plant species), is valued in medicine for its antiin flammatory and antimicrobial properties and ability to treat skin wounds, even post-surgery. “Compared to any other form of honey, it has four times more minerals and the highest polyphenol level, which helps protect the skin from oxidative damage such as pollution and UV,” says Dr Genesky.
“It is also known to stimulate collagenproducing fibroblasts and keratinocytes, helping to repair damage and maintain skin barrier hydration due to its high sugar content.” For skin to respond to damage quickly, its cellular turnover rate has to be at the healthy pace of every 28 days. “The rate in less healthy skin is slower.
Our research suggests that it’s associated with the malfunction or slowing down of skin’s energy pathways.” This is where Korean red ginseng root comes in. “It has been linked to the stimulation and protection of the energy pathways. This highly potent form of ginseng protects the cell’s battery pack from oxidative stress and increases the production of energy.”
Studies on it have reportedly shown aged, dull skin recovering some of its youthful radiance, an increase in skin hydration, barrier function and collagen production, and an ability to prevent UV-induced roughness.
In line with Kiehl’s standing to giving back to the communities and to source sustainably, the American brand has partnered Watson & Son, a 100 per cent Maori- and New Zealand-owned company that specialises in producing the premium Manuka honey in Kiehl’s new Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream.
Natural is hard to do
“Ingredients from nature have always inspired our formulation process, as the earth is such an amazing resource,” says Roberta Weiss, Kiehl’s head of product innovation. “Formulating with natural ingredients can be challenging, though.” By removing synthetic ingredients, Kiehl’s chemists had a smaller “palette” of active ingredients to choose from.
The efficacy of natural ingredients is harder to validate because they have a multitude of active components compared to synthetic ingredients, which typically only have one. The lack of synthetic ingredients also compromises the aesthetics of a formula. “To build a cream structure, we typically formulate with emulsifiers, thickeners, emollients and powders,” says Dr Genesky.
“For Pure Vitality, we made the decision to use only natural, plant-derived versions of these ingredients.” That took 68 trials – apparently the most in Kiehl’s history – to achieve the perfect balance of each ingredient in a formula that is also aesthetically appealing, and elegant. “Pure Vitality Skin Renewing Cream is 99.6 per cent naturally derived, and has clinically demonstrated efficacy,” says Weiss.
“It’s a true industry achievement.” Kiehl’s recommends pairing Pure Vitality with the brand’s Calendula HerbalExtract Toner ($59) and Dermatologist Solutions Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution ($92) for more radiant skin.