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Here Comes The Bloom! — New Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash


At the height of the Flower Child era, in the 1960s, Kiehl’s found itself exploring the healing power of blossoms but, rather than concentrating on the daisies and sunflowers that adorned the strands of peace sign-flashing, free love-espousing hippies, the famed apothecary researched the virtues of the marigold. The result was its now legendary Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, which was formulated with hand-picked marigold petals. Fifty years later, Kiehl’s is once again merry over marigold, developing a new product based on this blossom’s healing properties: the Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash ($29 at Kiehls.com).

Used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to heal and disinfect cuts, wounds, and skin inflammations (including skin ulcerations, eczema, and acne), calendula boasts anti-viral and immunostimulant properties. Due to its antiseptic and anti-viral properties, calendula is an excellent tool for removing dirt and oil from the surface of the skin (and, in turn, for treating acne), plus it contains a high concentration of flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that protects the skin from free radical damage.

To dislodge dirt and debris from the surface of the skin and create a rich lather without relying on harmful alkaline-based soaps and sulfates that dry the skin and impair its innate defense mechanisms, Kiehl’s turned to amino acid-based surfactants — in this case, primarily sodium cocoyl glycinate, which is derived from coconut oil — which create a delightful foam but are so gentle as to leave the skin’s protective barrier unharmed. These amino acid-based surfactants don’t irritate skin and, furthermore, they help in lipid regulation, ensuring that the skin’s water retention value is maximized. To further improve the cleanser’s ability to gently remove dirt and oil, Kiehl’s added a vegetable-based surfactant to the formula. And, to keep skin hydrated and smooth, the formula incorporates glycerin, a natural humectant that pulls moisture from the air to replenish the skin.

Thanks to its soap-free nature, the Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash doesn’t leave skin feeling achy or parched but, instead, it creates a pleasant refreshed sensation. From a sensory perspective, the cleanser creates the illusion of a deep cleanse because it starts out with a gel-like consistency and then, when it comes in contact with a bit of water, a lather forms which then produces plenty of bubbles (especially if you’re using a sonic cleansing device like the FOREO Luna or the Clarisonic Mia2).

I personally love the sight of those little frothy bubbles all along my forehead and chin — it makes me feel like I’m Julia Roberts in the Prince-singing, tub-soaking scene in Pretty Woman — but oftentimes the pleasant foam comes at too high a price since it’s triggered by harmful surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate that can strip the skin of natural oils it needs to remain supple, clear, and healthy-looking. Because many companies still use these harsh detergents in their foaming face wash formulas, there’s a common misconception that all foaming face washes should be shunned in favor of gel or cream cleansers. But don’t buy the hype! The problem isn’t the foam itself  — most women find this pleasurable! — but the ingredients that trigger the foaming action. If you rely on amino acid-based surfactants, you can still benefit from the light, airy, frothy foam texture without harming your skin. Basically, it’s a win-win.

This mild cleanser also incorporates chamomile extract to soothe the skin and lemon peel oil, which acts as a cleansing agent and helps to keep skin looking radiant.

After over a month of using this cleanser, I’m quite smitten with the product since it doesn’t leave my skin feeling like it has any filmy residue (a sensation I loathe and which unfortunately accompanies many a cleanser) but it also doesn’t over dry my complexion, so that it basically hits that sweet and oh-so-elusive middle ground where it effectively removes all signs of dirt, oil, and makeup, while still leaving the visage feeling refreshed and reenergized.

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