Holy Grail Skincare: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream – Best Moisturizer for All Skin Types

Kiehls Ultra Facial Cream

When someone, anywhere online, says “Holy Grail,” my mind immediately flits to the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. Kiehl’s is a classic skincare brand, having been around since 1851, and the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream has been a staple of their line and a fan favorite since the 70s.  It’s rare for brands to stick with one product – typically, they’re constantly launching new ones or reworking their existing ones so as to bring in a new crop of buyers and keep the brand fresh – which should give you a hint of just how good this cream is. 50 years from now, people will probably still be buying, and loving, the Ultra Facial Cream.

It’s extremely hard to find a moisturizer that has the perfect balance of hydration and skin-pleasing ingredients without clogging pores or causing irritation. Most moisturizers that are light enough to not clog pores don’t deliver enough hydration and fail to lock in moisture and sufficiently protect skin from dry air and the elements. Conversely, most moisturizers that are very hydrating are very thick and feel heavy on the skin, often failing to completely melt in.


Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream is a white cream with a fairly light texture – much heavier than whip, it’s certainly a cream rather than a gel or whip texture, but lighter than many other facial creams. What really matters, however, is what it does when it hits your face, which is immediately dissolve into the skin like liquid. I apply this at night all over my face, and with a few quick strokes of my fingers, it melts into the skin. You can still feel it there, as with any good moisturizer, but it’s incredibly comfortable, the skin doesn’t feel choked and there isn’t residue left sitting on the surface of the skin. Moreover – which I like – the cream has little to no scent, perhaps a very very faint pleasant scent, but almost none, which I prefer to the creams that have heavy floral or other scents.


After application, the cream leaves your face with a healthy glow. More importantly, it’s the best cream I’ve ever come across for maintaining and protecting your skin. It hydrates to the perfect level – I live in the Pacific Northwest in the U.S., and we get intense winters. When I use this regularly, my skin is never dry, but always plump, hydrated, and protected.  I will say that one thing this cream doesn’t do is deliver a slew of additional benefits – i.e. it’s not meant to be brightening or firming, and you won’t necessarily see big changes to your skin after using it – yet I keep coming back to it year after year, after trying dozens of other moisturizers, because it’s simply the best cream for maintaining your skin’s hydration.

The best way I can describe this is that it’s a workhorse – it’s not necessarily the most exciting cream to use day after day every day of the year – it doesn’t smell amazing, is a basic white color, the packaging is straightforward, etc. – so every few months I’ll get a tiny bit bored with it and try another cream. Yet I invariably  come back to this, and it’s my most repurchased skincare item of the past three years, because it works so solidly and reliably. I alternate this all year round with the Korres Wild Rose Brightening Sleeping Facial (my review), which is a lighter cream I tend to use more in the spring/summer, while I break out the Kiehl’s every winter.

Skin Type Recommendations

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial is a good cream for all skin types, because it’s hydrating without being too heavy. If you struggle with a lot of excess oil/sebum, I don’t recommend this – you’ll want a lighter moisturizer like the Mizon Good Night Sleeping Mask, which I recommend for oily skin – but it’s excellent for normal, dry, combination, and mildly oily skin.

Its effects last, too – some moisturizers have an immediate positive effect on skin, and then somehow cease to work after a few weeks of use. This is just extraordinarily reliable. At just under $30, it falls in the mid-range price point for moisturizers – more expensive than your basic $12 drugstore moisturizers, but much more affordable than the $60+ luxury brands. With this, you absolutely get luxury quality, and it lasts forever – the standard 1.7 oz jar lasts me 4-6 months depending on how often I use it.

The 1.7 oz jar is $27.50 on the Kiehls website, but as always, I recommend buy it. That’s where I usually get it. My main tip for using it is to remember that it primarily maintains your skin, and to use it for three weeks – I wasn’t wowed the first day I used it, but only gradually noticed just how much better it was than all other creams I would try.

~Love Claire

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