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Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution — Will It Clear Any Present Danger?

When it comes to brightening skin, combating hyperpigmentation, and evening skin tone, a battle of the wills (and a barrage of contradictory information) exists between the holistic community, which promotes the usage of natural botanical extracts, and those in the scientific arena, who insist that nothing beyond cosmeceuticals will effectively tackle the problem. Having specialized in promoting healthy skin using natural remedies for 150 years, Kiehl’s has adopted an approach to tackling hyperpigmentation befitting of its heritage as an esteemed and groundbreaking apothecary but grounded in sound scientific research rather than popular myths. With the help of dermatologist Dr. Adam Geyer, then, Kiehl’s created a new serum that seeks to prevent the formation of melanin clusters that translate into dark spots, inhibit melanin production as a whole, and deter melanin from traveling to the skin’s surface. Aside from preventing hyperpigmentation development, the serum also seeks to tackle existing melanin clusters, diffusing the pigment so as to minimize their overall appearance and create the illusion of a more even canvas.

The key ingredient in the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution ($49.50 at Kiehls.com) is Activated C, a Herculean form of vitamin C that penetrates the top layers of skin, helping to combat sun spots, acne scars, age spots, and unwanted melanin clumps while preventing future clusters from surfacing. Though vitamin C (and, in particular,  the water soluble compound Ascorbic Acid) has long been considered a brightening agent, it’s also extremely prone to oxidation so that even the most limited amount of contact with open air can render it ineffective. Activated C, then, represents the next generation of vitamin compounds:  a smaller molecule that can more swiftly penetrate the epidermis and which boasts a more stable composition that greatly extends the shelf life of any product with which it is formulated.

In addition to Activated C, this lightweight, non-greasy, ultra sensitive, clear-colored serum contains white birch extract and peony extract. White birch extract is rich in betulin, a chemical that some studies indicate could potentially help  decrease tumor activity in melanoma cases, along with betulinic acid, which some believe can tackle skin conditions ranging from acne to eczema thanks to its ability to restore hydration and increase skin elasticity. Peony extract, meanwhile, is believed to have antioxidant properties, conditioning abilities, and anti-cancerous benefits. Though anecdotal accounts and age-old beauty rituals tout the wonders of these botanical ingredients, it’s important to note that very little hard science exists regarding these plant extracts’ effects on human skin. In this scenario, then, customers should weigh whether they’re more receptive to anecdotal stories handed down from generation to generation or whether they place more of a premium on lab research.
Personally, I tend to believe the “truth,” if you will, lies somewhere in between the nature and science  extremities — as does the answer to great skin. Oftentimes, the indigenous communities of different countries have unearthed the healing and medicinal properties of the plants, herbs, fruits, and minerals around them, and yet the scientific community has balked at these claims, instead focusing on man-made compounds rife in cosmeceutical profit prospects. Other times, die-hard environmental activists and green crusaders have made rash proclamations regarding scientific breakthroughs, balking at the notion of anything good emerging from a place other than the Earth itself.
How to wade through all the propaganda and get at the heart of whether a skin care product is effective, safe to use, and worthy of its price? Nothing beats sifting through reviews from folks with no ulterior motives, no stockholders to fret over or activist alliances to consider.
So let’s dive right in!
Does the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution yield results, diminishing the appearance of dark spots (or “manchas” as we Latinos call them)?  My experience with the serum has been positive, and I have seen some improvement in regards to dark spots (mainly stubborn little scars left behind by pimples I popped and squeezed against my better judgment). Still, the results weren’t as astounding as those yielded by the Clinique Even Better Dark Spot Corrector or the Clarins Vital Light Serum — unlike these two products, which tend to deliver rapid results, the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Serum had more of a slow burn approach to hyperpigmentation and was significantly more effective in tackling newly formed melanin clusters. 
Still, there are a number of benefits to the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective serum. For one, it doesn’t contain parabens, silicones, colorants, artificial fragrances, or harsh chemicals that can strip the skin of moisture, cause allergic reactions, or increase topical redness, making it a great alternative for women with sensitive, temperamental skin.  Also, and perhaps more importantly, the Clearly Corrective Serum does not include retinoids which render the skin extremely sensitive to the sun’s rays, making any brightening product containing them a bit of a hazard during the bright summer season. Sure, you’ll need to moisturize skin and apply a physical sunblock afterward to protect your complexion but, once you take these precautionary steps, you should be able to use the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution serum even at the height of the summer season.
My advise: if you don’t have remarkably sensitive skin, opt for the Clinique Even Better range, the Clarins Vital Light Serum, or the Estée Lauder Idealist serum during the fall and winter seasons, then tweak your routine once the sun’s rays start beaming a bit more aggressively, swapping out these products with the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective serum.

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