Kiehl's Now Lets You Create a Custom Skin Serum Just Like Its Ye Old Apothecary Days

I will jump at any opportunity to customize a shampoo, lip color, or skincare product.

Tynan is an unusual name, as I am constantly reminded whenever I introduce myself to someone. When I was little, I was always mad when I’d approach a towering rack of key chains and bracelets emblazoned with children’s names on them only to find that my name was overlooked in the space between Tyler and Tyrone, where it should have been. Because of this, I’ve always been a complete sucker for anything custom. Predictably, this extends to my beauty routine.

I can hear it now: Those millennials all think they're special snowflakes! They want everything to be customized and cater to them! To that, I respond with a triumphant "Fuck off." Maybe we do.

I will jump at any opportunity to customize a shampoo, lip color, or skincare product. This summer, my friend from Kiehl’s told me about an upcoming in-store service that lets you create a customized serum and take it home with you that same day, which had my name all over it (pun not intended but here we are.) How chic. It’s also a nice nod to their start as an actual apothecary. When they gave me the opportunity to try it for myself, I knew I couldn't say no.

Maybe I wouldn’t have been as interested in this if it was just any brand, but I love Kiehl’s. They’re a major part of my skincare routine, so it just made sense.

Before we all get too excited, Apothecary Preparation is available in-store in 13 cities nationwide, so not every store has this, but there’s a good chance that you’re near one that does.

The rep at Kiehl’s will sit down with you and talk about your skin, your concerns, and what you want out of your skincare, and then run a series of tests. They first blot your face to see how much oil your skin produces (I’m kinda oily, apparently.)

Then, they use a sensor that is not unlike a touch thermometer that measures how hydrated your skin is on a scale of one to one hundred, one hundred obviously being the best.

“I bet my skin is very hydrated!” I bragged. “I’m constantly drinking water and I moisturize twice a day!”

My skin landed at 27%. YOU LIVE, YOU LEARN.

Next she pulled out this gigantic book, at which point I almost lost interest. But then she pulled out an iPad and the day was saved.

We went through a few groups of typical skincare issues and had me rate how concerned I was about each, including lines and wrinkles, tone, texture, pores, and redness. For each of these there were explanations and visuals of each factor, ranging from mild to severe. I’m a visual person so I found this very helpful, and I imagine that would be the case for someone who may not know their way around skincare all that well. What would “tone” even mean to someone who doesn’t talk about beauty all week? The photos helped.

From there, we went on to pick two concentrates to add to the Skin-Strengthening Concentrate base. I went with one for refining pores, because lately the pores of my nose have been looking gigantic, and brightening, but I didn’t need to tell you that.

The Skin-Strengthening Base is kind of a beast on its own. It’s formulated with a high concentration of squalane and a lipid complex which help to fortify skin’s barrier to the elements and outside stressors and keep moisture in. I’m glad I landed this right before winter.

The Pore Minimizing complex included salicylic acid, which acts as a mild exfoliator and helps regulate skin’s oil production. The Brightening Complex is made with vitamin c, which I try to include in my skincare routine as often as possible because it gently brightens your skin and you see results quickly.

Other concentrates are made for concerns like wrinkles, texture, and redness, so there’s something here for anyone, at any age.

You leave with the bottle of the Skin-Strengthening Base and two tubes of concentrates and then mix them in the bottle at home. Super easy. This isn’t the most customized skincare you’re going to find (have you heard about those products made with your own blood? omg) but you can walk into a Kiehl’s store, sit down with someone who knows what the hell they’re talking about, test your skin, and walk out with a product that’s made for you. No taking a survey and ordering online (although it would not shock me if they launched this online in the future.) I like that you do it in person and have the product the same day.

A product as simple as a serum can still have many differences as far as how it feels on your skin. Some feel dryer than water, absorbing faster than you can rub it from your nose to your cheek. On the other hand, some are bouncier and have a lot of stretch, so you find yourself rubbing them around and fanning them to get the dry so you can get on with your skincare and makeup. The Apothecary Preparation serum has good body to it, but it sinks in pretty quickly. It rubs in velvety smooth on your face and dries to a natural matte finish. I don’t find that it’s too oily, so it won’t result in too much shine hours later, and it won’t fuck with any foundation that I’ve layered on top of it. I always quickly blot my face when I use oil serums before I apply primer and foundation, just to be safe.

Apothecary Preparation is going to run you $95. This is noticeably more expensive than the other serums by Kiehl's, almost by double. But, this is an in-person service and customized product with a great base and two concentrates, so as my Kiehl's girl told me, it's like two serums in one. A good serum doesn't need to be expensive, but many are. If I'm gonna drop a little extra cash on my daily skincare routine which consists of serum, eye cream, and moisturizer, it's going to be on the serum. If this were a $100 moisturizer, we'd be having a different conversation.

If you're serious about your skincare (which if you're still reading this after 1,100 words, you are) then you're probably already using a serum anyway. I really like the serum I left with. Anything that strengthens and brightens my skin while feeling good and wearing well on my skin is a hit for me. I am all about this and I can't wait to hear what you guys think.

  • Have you ever bought into a customized beauty product?
  • What serums are people using these days anyway?
  • Squalane is fun to say.