Kiehl's Scented Lip Balm #1 Mango

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Ioana Demian
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Kiehl’s is a popular, natural skincare brand, owned by L’Oréal. The Kiehl's Scented Lip Balm #1 Mango is a nourishing, mango-scented product that helps relieve chapped or cracked lips by softening, comforting and moisturising them.

The company offers a range of qualitative products, but similarly to L’Oréal, it is neither vegan nor cruelty free. I believe that Kiehl’s is down the right path, and it was part of multiple great initiatives, such as Future Made Better, which is meant to reduce environmental impact and serve communities. However, I would want the company to be more ambitious, and to be more specific about its progress and about how it wants to achieve different sustainability targets. 

What it's made of:


The ingredients in this product are similar to Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 unscented version. Petrolatum, the main ingredient is natural, derived from crude oil, and it is a rich emollient and FDA-approved skin protectant, known to be very good for dry skin, as it obstructs trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). However, it is a byproduct of the oil refining process and is therefore not sustainable nor eco-friendly, as it contributes to climate change, acid rain, and oil spills. I wish Kiehl’s would replace it with a more environmentally friendly ingredient. Squalene, a natural component of human skin sebum, is a great natural moisturizing agent and a source of replenishing fatty acids and antioxidants. Squalene can also be found in shark liver and in different plant oils, but Kiehl’s is sourcing it from olives. Even though most ingredients seem to be good and beneficial, substances in smaller concentrations, such as limonene, a chemical constituent of many natural fragrant ingredients, can cause sensitivity when exposed to air. Along with squalene and vitamin E, Kiehl’s promotes Aloe Vera as a key ingredient with soothing, antioxidant properties. However, aloe barbadensis leaf extract is the second to last ingredient, after BHT, whose concentration is usually around 0.01-0.1%. I am not sure people will experience its full benefits at such a low concentration.

The environmental working group (EWG) rates products through its Skin-Deep program based on hazard and data availability. In 2020, Kiehl's Lip Balm #1, which has a very similar ingredient list to the Kiehl's Scented Lip Balm #1 Mango, was rated a 2, on the low hazard scale. However, there was also low data availability about the ingredients. 

How it's made:


The lip balm is not vegan, but Kiehl’s offers some vegan-friendly products in their line. Kiehl’s, similarly to L’Oreal, claims it does not test on animals, unless required by law to do so. The company has stores and sells its products in China, one of the few countries in the world that still requires animal testing for beauty products. However, the country has recently changed its laws, and some cosmetic products will not be required to be tested on animals anymore. This is still new, but I hope Kiehl’s will come out as entirely cruelty-free and will get a PETA certification, now that the regulations in China have changed.

In 2020, Kiehl’s reduced virgin plastic usage by almost 20% globally by incorporating post-consumer recycled materials in their packaging. Moreover, more than 80% of their packages are made with recycled material. I also think that the ‘recycle and be rewarded’ program is amazing, as it allows customers to return empty products to the store, which are then reused. Nevertheless, some packaging, such as sample sachet products, fragrance and perfume bottles, etc. cannot be recycled. I wish the company would create a circular life-cycle for all the packages and bottles. I would also like Kiehl’s to offer further information about the manufacturing process, about the amount of water and energy it uses, and about its suppliers. 

Who makes it:


Kiehl’s is an American hair and skincare brand. It was originally founded as an apothecary in 1851 in New York, which was later purchased by pharmacist John Kiehl. In April 2000, the company was purchased by cosmetics giant L’Oreal, and Kiehl's seems to have similar values to its parent company. L’Oreal owns more than 30 brands, and it has been associated with different issues such as supply chain management, pollution and toxins, human rights violations, animal testing, etc. Nevertheless, it has been named one of the most ethical companies by Etisphere Institute, upon its Ethics Quotient (EQ) framework.

Kiehl’s values service, nature and science, quality, education, giving and respect. Through its “Kiehl’s Gives” initiative, the company promotes philanthropy around the world, supporting LGBTQ+, children’s wellbeing etc. Some of the company’s partners are Gyrl Wonder, The Trevor Project, Feeding America and Earth Day Network. This is great, as the company states how it has supported these organisations, and what each of them is concerned with. This shows what Kiehl's is investing in, but I wish the company would provide further comprehensive information about its sustainability goals and the actions it will take to achieve them, rather than vague statements, so that consumers can follow the company's progress and committment.