The new Kiehl’s Calendula Water Cream is a moisturizer/primer for oily-skinned people

Did you know that the Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner is Kiehl’s #1 best-selling toner globally? Its success inspired the brand to come up with a water cream (which is skincare speak for a lightweight gel moisturizer) that incorporates the same iconic ingredient, Calendula Extract. What’s different about the new Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream is that it includes micronized Calendula petals that “burst” when applied. The Calendula serum is meant to soothe and refresh the skin without making it feel too heavy. While moisturizer isn’t a particularly exciting category for me (I’m really more of a sunscreen type of gal), the unique texture of this product led me to discover its unintended use as an ultra-smoothing primer that nourishes and creates slip!

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Still, it needs to be evaluated as a skincare product. Here are my thoughts compared to Kiehl’s Clinical and Consumer Perception Studies1:

Clinical testing showed the serum-infused water cream:

  • Improves the look of fine dry lines and

  • Makes skin texture look and feel smoother - AGREE. If we’re talking just about looks, then I’ll go as far as saying I’ve found a new smoothing primer that’s also a moisturizer. In fact, it works better than some hydrating primers I’ve tried (Kat Von D and Becca are of note). Try applying it under a matte foundation to add slip, thanks to all the skin conditioners high up on the ingredients lists. A third of the index finger is enough to coat both the face and neck. More than that can result in a somewhat greasy feeling that dissipates over time.

  • Boosts skin’s radiance & suppleness - AGREE. It doesn’t take much to massage the product in, and after massaging you can really see and feel the radiance and suppleness.

Before and After: Not a marked improvement but you can see  some  fading. My face definitely  feels  a lot smoother though.

Before and After: Not a marked improvement but you can see some fading. My face definitely feels a lot smoother though.

In just one week:

  • 98% of participants thought skin felt relieved from discomfort - SOMEWHAT AGREE. When I had flakes, this cream would immediately hide its appearance, and when my skin was “provoked” by drying lotions (acne problems), it helped in lessening the tight feeling. However, the effects don’t last the entire day so this is not an appropriate choice for dry and flaky skin.

  • 98% of participants felt skin redness appeared reduced - SOMEWHAT AGREE. I didn’t notice any fading of redness over time, but upon inspection of before and after photos, there is a minute difference. I’ve tried anti-redness products before though, and gotten better results with those.

  • 96% of participants thought skin looked even-toned - DISAGREE. See above.

  • 96% of participants thought skin felt smooth & soft - AGREE and strongly. It offers the perfect balance of moisture and smoothness, softer than a baby’s bottom!

  • 94% of participants felt skin looked glowing - AGREE. Did they make this a primer? Because it feels and works a lot like a glow product!

[1] My results contrasted after they compared after 1-week, based on a 4-week Clinical Study and Consumer Perception Study

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Overall, I found the Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream to be a great new addition to my actual makeup routine. I’m happy to have found a light moisturizer that creates an ultra-smooth canvas, enabling me to skip the priming phase. I wouldn’t use it to solve anything when I have flakes (a rarity these days but still in the realm of possibility) or redness though. The Calendula Water Cream is more expensive than their other moisturizers at P2,650 for 50mL and P1,750 for 28mL, so make sure to get a sample first before you bite!

The rest of the Calendula line, which are not new, I will also evaluate based on claims:

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Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash (P1,825 for 23mL and P650 for 75mL)

  • Gently lifts away impurities, dirt and oil - NOT QUITE ACCURATE. Gentler gel cleansers exist, and even if I put the Calendula Cleanser in an evaluative vacuum, I can’t say that it’s gentle. It’s easy to over-use and ¾ pea size is enough for the whole face and neck, otherwise, you can create a too-squeaky clean canvas which we now know to be less than ideal. If you evaluate cleanser gentleness in terms of stinging and irritation, then yes, the cleanser is gentle in those terms. Note that there are citrus oils in the ingredients list though.

  • Deeply cleanses skin without over drying or stripping - NOT QUITE ACCURATE. Same as above, this cleanser just solidifies my loyalty to low pH cleansers that do not foam too much and strip the skin of moisture. On some days, my skin flakes were revealed without any methods and tools used other than a gentle massage with fingers.

  • Help skin look and feel instantly refreshed and revitalized - ACCURATE. If you use the right amount, you won’t be able to feel the gunk of the day anymore. My advice: use sparingly as a second cleanser, and you will feel “instantly refreshed and revitalized.”

  • Formulated with Calendula Extract and Glycerin - ACCURATE. Again, if you use the right amount, your face can actually feel smooth and soft thanks to the glycerin which is high on the list.

  • For normal skin and oily skin - ACCURATE. If you have dry and flaky skin, stay away. If you have normal and oily skin, this can be a good enough second cleanser.

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Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner (P2,425 for 250mL and P1,450 for 125mL)

  • Gently cleanses and refreshes facial skin without harsh synthetic drying agents - ACCURATE. No stinging and drying tomfoolery, thanks to the alcohol-free formulation. I do also use this to get the absolute last remnants of makeup off. If you layer though, it can be sticky, so it’s an inappropriate candidate for the 7-skin method.

  • Soothes and improves the feel of skin - ACCURATE. If you have normal to oily skin, this may be enough to soothe and refresh the skin, meaning, you can sleep or whack foundation on if you’re lazy. Skin conditioning ingredients like Propylene Glycol and Pentylene Glycol are high on the list. It can feel like nothing if you have parched skin though.

  • For normal to oily skin types, including sensitive skin - ACCURATE. No reactions or itchiness from my sensitive skin, and it works as a suitable alternative if I find moisturizers too greasy. Note though that this isn’t a toner that “improves” anything. It really just soothes and refreshes.

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Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Mask (P3,050 for 100mL and P1,225 for 28mL)

  • Hydrates and soothes skin with moisture and helps reduce signs of distress - SOMEWHAT ACCURATE. The website states that the mask is suitable for normal, combination, and dry skin, but I found it to actually have a matte-satin finish after just 5 minutes and washing. It’s not as hydrating as sleeping packs, so I don’t think it would be appropriate for those with dry skin. After the wash it actually feels pleasantly… normal, like you have nothing on your face.

  • Bursts into a refreshing surge of cooling hydration upon application - ACCURATE. I didn’t realize that the cooling sensation was intentional until I read the claims, meaning I noticed there was a cooling effect even before I read about it.

  • Revitalizes skin over time for a healthy-looking complexion - UNABLE TO EVALUATE. Since we were given a travel size product, I can’t attest to its long term effects, but sure, my complexion looks “healthy” (clean, fresh, non-flaky, not-irritated) after.

Note: Kiehl’s recommends layering the mask and toner (and moisturizer), which makes more sense if you have dry sensitive skin that needs more moisture. Individually, they may just be suitable for those with normal to oily skin, but together they can actually nourish dry skin types.

Have you tried anything from the Calendula line? What are your favorites? Let’s discuss.


Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream Ingredients:

Aqua/Water, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Propanediol, Panthenol, Dimethicone/ PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Bisabolol, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Chlorphenesin, Citrus Limon Peel Oil/Lemon Peel Oil, Sodium Citrate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Limonene, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Trisodium, Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Calendula Officinalis Flower, Citric Acid, Dipropylene Glycol, Geranium Maculatum Oil, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Oil/Matricaria Flower Oil, Citral, Citronellol, Geraniol, Farnesol, Linalool, Tocopherol, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil, Artemisia Absinthium Extract


Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash Ingredients:

Aqua/Water, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Coco-Betaine, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Acrylates/Steareth-20 Methacrylate Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Nepeta Cataria Oil, Citrus Limon Peel Oil/Lemon Peel Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Limonene, Geraniol, Methylisothiazolinone, Citral, Citronellol, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid.


Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner Ingredients

Aqua / Water, Propylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Methylparaben, Disodium Edta, Arctium Lappa Extract / Arctium Lappa Root Extract, Calendula Officinalis Extract / Calendula Officinalis, Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Allantoin, Hedera Helix Extract - Ivy Leaf/Stem Extract, Althaea Officinalis / Althaea Officinalis Root Extract


Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Mask

Water, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Butylene Glycol, Ppg-26-Buteth-26, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Carbomer, Calendula Officinalis Flower, Phenoxyethanol, Limonene, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citrus Limon Peel Oil / Lemon Peel Oil, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Citral, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Artemisia Absinthium Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Tocopherol.