Kiehl's vs La Roche-Posay | Which Skincare Brand Is For You?

written by: Tom Qiao
last update: February 11, 2024

As a skincare editor, I’m constantly testing out beloved skincare brands making waves in the beauty world. Two labels that often come up are New York apothecary heritage brand Kiehl’s Since 1851 and French pharmacy favorite La Roche-Posay. At first glance, both seem to offer effective formulas free from common irritants. However, important distinctions appeal to different skincare shopper needs and budgets.

Kiehl's and La Roche-Posay Bestsellers

Kiehl's #1 Bestseller

Ultra Facial Cream, 4.2 oz.

  • #1 Bestselling Facial Cream from Kiehl's
  • With Glacial Glycoprotein and Squalane
  • Lightweight Cream Texture
  • 24-Hour Hydration
  • For All Skin Types
La Roche-Posay #1 Bestseller

Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, 3.4 oz.

  • #1 Bestselling Moisturizer from LRP
  • With Ceramide-3, Niacinamide, and Prebiotic Thermal Spring Water
  • Lightweight Cream Texture
  • 48-Hour Hydration
  • For All Skin Types

Kiehl's vs La Roche-Posay

As a skincare editor, I’m constantly testing out beloved skincare brands making waves in the beauty world. Two labels that often come up are New York apothecary heritage brand Kiehl’s Since 1851 and French pharmacy favorite La Roche-Posay. At first glance, both seem to offer effective formulas free from common irritants. However, important distinctions appeal to different skincare shopper needs and budgets.

Firstly, Kiehl’s and La Roche-Posay share a commitment to fragrance-free skincare across all products to cater to easily aggravated skin. However, Kiehl’s places greater emphasis on natural plant oils and butters for rich hydration. Signatures like the Ultra Facial Cream and Midnight Recovery Concentrate feature squalane and evening primrose oil for a nourishing sensory experience. Meanwhile, La Roche-Posay highlights mineral-rich spring water and hydrating thermal spa ingredients like glycerin and shea butter for straightforward moisturization minus the fragrance. So Kiehl’s excels at luxe plant-sourced richness, while La Roche-Posay takes a simple, classic approach.

Next, looking at ingredients. Both Kiehl’s and La Roche-Posay formulate many products highlighted by glycerin, squalane or shea butter for lightweight yet nourishing hydration. However, Kiehl’s features more botanically-derived ingredients like aloe, avocado, and calendula across their lines. La Roche-Posay takes a more clinical angle with ingredients like prebiotic thermal spring water, niacinamide, and thermo-sensitive molecules. So for those wanting natural-based formulas, Kiehl’s wins. But La Roche-Posay appeals if seeking out science-backed actives.

With its indulgent formulations, Kiehl’s often feels more elegant in terms of textures and layerability. The famous Ultra Facial Cream, for example, melts into a featherlight fluid that wears beautifully under makeup. La Roche-Posay moisturizers have a slippery consistency and subtle glow that satisfies without added silicones. Fans of cosmetic elegance may prefer Kiehl’s indulgent finishes, but La Roche-Posay gets the hydration job done at a more wallet-friendly price point.

Speaking of price – La Roche-Posay’s formulas offer serious skincare science at mostly under $35, while Kiehl’s replicates boutique-esque richness at a steeper cost, usually $40-60 per moisturizer or serum. However, Kiehl’s often offers gift sets and bonuses that increase overall value compared to singular La Roche-Posay purchases.

Overall those needing a straightforward sensitive skin regimen should turn to La Roche-Posay for budget buys that simply soothe without flair. But for a truly pampering sensory experience that happens to also nourish wonderfully, treat yourself to Kiehl’s unique skincare formulas!

Kiehl's #1 Bestseller

Ultra Facial Cream, 4.2 oz.

  • #1 Bestselling Facial Cream from Kiehl's
  • With Glacial Glycoprotein and Squalane
  • Lightweight Cream Texture
  • 24-Hour Hydration
  • For All Skin Types
La Roche-Posay #1 Bestseller

Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, 3.4 oz.

  • #1 Bestselling Moisturizer from LRP
  • With Ceramide-3, Niacinamide, and Prebiotic Thermal Spring Water
  • Lightweight Cream Texture
  • 48-Hour Hydration
  • For All Skin Types
  • Save
Article written by Tom Qiao
Tom is the founder and editor of TheDermDetective.com where he applies his decades of personal experience with skincare problems like acne and acne scarring to provide readers with practical advice and product recommendations.

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