Kiehl’s vs Vichy

written by: Tom Qiao
last update: June 6, 2024

Battle of the Serums: Kiehl's vs Vichy

As a skincare editor, I've tried more serums than I can count over the years. Two brands that always seem to garner a lot of buzz are Kiehl's and Vichy. Both offer a wide range of targeted treatment serums designed to address everything from wrinkles and dark spots to dullness and dehydration. But how do their formulas really stack up? I put several of their most popular serums to the test to discover the key similarities and differences that matter most.

Let's start with ingredients. Both Kiehl's and Vichy take a science-backed approach, formulating with proven actives like vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid, and other antioxidants. However, Vichy leans heavily on mineral-rich thermal water sourced from the French volcanics region as a key "ingredient" in all their products. They claim this thermal water, rich in 15 different minerals, helps fortify and strengthen the skin's moisture barrier.

Kiehl's formulas don't contain any special mineral waters. Instead, many of their serums feature a proprietary Adaptogen Complex derived from botanical extracts like Holy Basil and Ginger Root, meant to help skin better resist environmental stressors. Some also contain their signature SqualanePure, a highly emollient plant-derived lipid.

In terms of texture, the two brands have quite different feels. Vichy's aqua-gel based serums like the LiftActiv Supreme Serum 10 have more of a lightweight, watery serum texture that layers well under heavier creams. Kiehl's serums tend to be a bit richer and more velvety, such as the Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, almost like a thin, silky cream. This makes them ideal for drier skin types.

For those with oily, acne-prone skin, you may fare better with Vichy's oil-free options like the Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Serum Gel. The lightweight gel formula is refreshing and absorbs quickly without feeling greasy. From Kiehl's, the Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum is a good pick for combination skin, as it provides antioxidant protection but has a more fluid consistency.

When it comes to customer reviews, both brands earn solid ratings overall. Vichy's LiftActiv Serum 10 Supreme is a cult favorite for its potent combination of pure vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and anti-aging rhamnose. Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate also gets rave reviews for visibly minimizing fine lines and wrinkles with a 10.5% vitamin C blend.

However, some Vichy customers complain that certain serums like the Mineral 89 pilled under makeup or felt tacky on the skin. And a few Kiehl's serum users mention having reactions or clogged pores from the richer textures. So as always, your individual skin type and sensitivity level is something to consider.

At the end of the day, effective serums from either brand don't come cheap. You can expect to pay $50-100 for most options. Vichy's highest-end serum is the LiftActiv Supreme at $99, while Kiehl's iconic Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate will run you $68. Generally speaking, Vichy serums tend to be a bit pricier than Kiehl's.

The bottom line? If you have normal to dry skin and are looking for an ultra-nourishing, velvety serum loaded with antioxidants and botanicals, go for Kiehl's. But if you prefer a lighter, more watery serum loaded with minerals and hyaluronic acid, Vichy's aqua-gel options are your best bet. Either way, you're getting science-backed formulas from two of the most trusted and reputable skincare brands out there.

Article written by Tom Qiao
Tom is the founder and editor of 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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