Kiehl's offers a unique approach to skin care

The firm that began in 1851 in New York has two outlets in Prague

There is a big difference between cosmetics and skin care products. Cosmetics just cover over problems, while skin care products work to keep skin healthy.

Kiehl's deals exclusively in skin care. The brand began in New York City's Lower East Side as a single shop in 1851, and moved into developing its own skin care products in 1921. It opened in the Czech Republic in 2014 and now has two locations in Prague, at malls in Nový Smíchov and Chodov, as well as online sales.

Nina Kožešníková, manager of the Nový Smíchov store, says the brand largely uses natural ingredients and for the most part does not use added perfumes.

Kiehl's products for both men and women are not divided by age, but by skin type. “When a new customer comes here we ask a lot of questions about their skin, whether it is dry or oily, or if there are any problems, and then we chose the products based on that,” she said. Dry and dehydrated skin are among the most common complaints, followed by concerns over aging. They also have products for acne and other common skin problems.

Kiehl's most popular item for women is Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which helps the face repair itself from daily damage. “It is for all skin types and is made from essential oils. Two or three drops is enough. It is the total best seller everywhere,” she said. It is 99.8 percent from natural oils and botanical sources.

The counterpart to that is Daily Reviving Concentrate, for use all the time. It is 100 percent from natural sources. “It is anti-aging and contains ginger root, sunflower and tamanu oils,” she said.

Other customer-favorite products are Ultra Facial Cream, which helps reduce moisture loss, and Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. “Those are very hydrating, almost for everyone,” she said.

Anti-aging products are also quite popular. Rosa Arctica Lightweight Cream, a recent introduction to the product line, is designed to fight skin lines in the long-term. “It is for drier skin and really nourishing,” she said. It is made in part from the regeneration flower (Haberlea rhodopensis), which can survive over 30 months without water.

A similar product is Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, which contains 10.5 percent vitamin C. “It is a really strong anti-oxidant,” she said, adding that it exfoliates skin to reveal healthier-looking skin underneath.

Creams and serums take up most of the popular items for women, but a facial mask manages to make its way into the top 10. Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque, made with Amazonian White Clay, draws out oil, dirt and toxins that clog pores. It stays on for five or 10 minutes. Kiehl's also has overnight masks like Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque, made with glacial proteins and desert plants.

While women make up the vast majority of clients, men account for some 5 percent, which is high for a cosmetics shop. The men's market has also been expanding. Kiehl's was one of the first companies to introduce skincare specifically designed for men.

The brand offers several products for shaving and after shaving, as well as anti-aging creams and eye care. “Czech men are not used to taking care of their skin. But men who have traveled have become familiar with the ideas,” she said. Young executives and other people who have to make a good impression are among the customers. Women sometimes buy the initial products like face wash and cream for men they know.

For men, Facial Fuel is the most popular item. It is a moisturizer that comes as a light-textured gel with no coloring or perfume, so it does not look like makeup when a man wears it.

Shaving products are mostly creams for use with a razor blade, which has been making a comeback. They also have aftershave gel with aloe vera and peppermint to repair damage to the face from shaving. The men's line also has unscented deodorants, body scrub soap made with bran and oatmeal, and body gels. More men's products for beard care will be coming in the future.

US-based Kiehl's was bought by French-based L'Oréal in 2000 and has been expanding internationally.

Kiehl's is known for its straight-forward approach and distinctive plain labels on its products, which is unusual in the skin care industry. Some products developed back in the 1920s are still in its portfolio. Among the store's celebrity clients in the 1960s was artist Andy Warhol, who used the Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion.

Kiehl's Czech Republic www.kiehls.cz (CZ)

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