Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque Review and Ingredients Analysis

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kiehl's has launched its Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque, and this is part of the brand's Clearly Corrective range, which is aimed at brightening and dark spot solutions. Obviously, being your typical Asian girl who wants to be as fair as possible, you can imagine my utter glee when I got my grabby little hands on this. I was like, "YES! Another whitening product!" Nevermind the bunch of other whitening products I already have, a girl can always do with more products, right?

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque

As a sheet mask product addressing whitening concerns, this is likely to do well in the Asian market over here. Sheet masks are immensely popular, as are whitening products (obviously, I'm not alone), so I was all set to review this, and give it my best shot! And since this is a skincare product, let's begin exactly the way I like it - with a trip to the ingredients list, and let's see how it fares!

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque ingredients
Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque ingredients: Vitamin C and Pro-Xylane are the key is the whitening and firming ingredients

The Kiehl's White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque, as you might expect, uses Vitamin C as the main ingredient. It's listed as 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, after Water, Glycerin (a humectant, and great for a wet sheet mask since it draws water from its surroundings into the skin), Propylene Glycol (another humectant and slip agent), PEG-20 (an emollient), and Butylene Glycol (another slip agent), and Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol. Now Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol is pretty unique as ingredients go (so it's a bit of a surprise to me that Kiehl's put this in there but didn't advertise it in their marketing), and it's an ingredient that was developed by L'Oreal (you may have seen it advertised under the trade name Pro-Xylane), and thus is exclusively found in other L'Oreal brand products. Other brands that include this ingredient would include brands like YSL, Lancome, Vichy, SkinCeuticals and of course, L'Oreal.

So what does Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol do? It's actually an ingredient that stimulates the production of glycoaminoglycans (GAGs) within the skin. GAGs are basically water-binding compounds that occur naturally in the skin, and are found primarily in the dermis (deepest layer) of the skin. An example of such a GAG that I'm sure you would have heard of is hylauronic acid, which has been getting quite a bit of hype in the past few years. So in theory, a product that increases the amount of GAGs in your skin, should give your skin a more plump, hydrated appearance - which is why you see all these hyaluronic acid products bragging about how one drop of product can firm up your skin. So that's what Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol does! (If you want to know more about you can visit this BeautyMagOnline article on Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol - it's supposed to be an educational resource for skin practitioners, and I'm selecting it because it helped to explain the science between the ingredient in a way that is neither inaccessible for those without the necessary science background, and yet doesn't dumb down the material too much.)

3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, a stable form of Vitamin C and the major whitening ingredient (Source)

Now, after all these list of ingredients comes the main ingredient that is responsible for most of the whitening, which is 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid. You're probably familiar with Ascorbic Acid - essentially it's Vitamin C, a form that is pretty potent on the skin, but also extremely reactive and unstable (which is why products with Ascorbic Acid inside turn from clear to brown pretty fast). 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid is a stable form of Vitamin C, and from what I understand, a fairly novel form of Vitamin C. Research done by a supplier of the ingredient suggests that it also helps to whiten the skin, as well as increase collagen production - which is plausible, since Ascorbic Acid and its other derivatives do help in these same two aspects of skincare. Lastly, there are also some plant extracts (peony, white birch, lavender oil), including some of the natural ingredients that Kiehl's is known for.

So all in all, you get a nice face mask that helps to hydrate your skin, helps to increase your skin's ability to hold water, and offers whitening benefits, and could increase collagen production. So I'd say from a formula perspective, this is a pretty impressive product. I can't think of what more I'd want in a mask! That said, most of the research I've seen on both Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol and 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid are all from companies that either supply the ingredients, or else use them in their end products (although it is interesting that this article by L'Oreal's competitor, P&G also acknowledges the effectiveness of Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, too, although of course as competitors they suggest their own blend of ingredients works better). It would be nice to see it verified in a peer-reviewed journal eventually, but for now, this looks promising. I definitely wouldn't write it off.

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque sheet
Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque: The sheet mask soaking in its essence

When I used the masque, I found that it had a smell that was vaguely herbal-lavender-citrus-y to my nose. I suppose this is due to the lavender oil and linalool in there, which are two aromatic compounds. While that sounds weird, the scent was actually pleasant, and reminiscent of some of the other more scents of Kiehl's products. While certainly some people dislike scented products, I always enjoy the complex, gorgeous scents in Kiehl's products - I feel like it's a nod to the brand's origins as an apothecary. And in particular Kiehl's scents always strike me as being more full-bodied, and less artificially sweet than other scented products, so I do feel like the scent adds to the general experience.

The mask was soaked in essence - you really feel like you're dumping a whole bottle of essence on your face with this! Texture-wise, the White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque essence was a clear liquid that was slightly sticky, much like like most mask essences, but not overly so. It absorbs decently into skin, and left my skin feeling nice and hydrated. I've used it a few times so far, and I think that while I can feel the hydrating/plumping effect it has on my skin, the brightening effect will probably take some time - as you can imagine, I couldn't see an immediate effect after one use. This is exactly what you'd expect when using a less potent but more stable form of Vitamin C - you will see the effect with sustained use, but at a slower rate than a more potent form. But of course, using a more potent form like L-Ascorbic Acid means you'll have to go through a lot of hassle to make sure the product doesn't degrade before you use it up, so for me, this is a trade-off I'm happy to make.

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque box
Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Hydrating and Clarifying Treatment Masque: You get 6 sheets in a box

So, would you need this? I do like this Masque, and I'd say that the mix of product benefits - hydration, whitening, general skin plumping and firming, as well as the inclusion of some of L'Oreal group's own research products (Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol) mean that in a way, when you pay for the price of the product, you're also paying for some of the innovation behind it. (I definitely prefer paying for than than paying for useless but pretty packaging.) I also like that the Vitamin C in the mask is a stabilized form, which means that you won't have to worry about the product having oxidized before even being applied to your face. I can imagine this being pretty popular here in Asia, given the multitude of skin concerns it addresses.

Recommended? Formulation Packaging Ease of Use Effectiveness
Yes, it is effective for hydration and whitening 8.5/10 9/10 9/10 8.5/10
The Bottom Line: A sheet mask that helps to hydrate and whiten skin with sustained use, and that also contains some of L'Oreal group's exclusive innovations, this is a good all-around mask addressing a variety of skin concerns.

(Product was sent for review. Review is my complete and honest opinion. I am not affiliated with/compensated by the company.)


  1. I have always been afraid of whitening(brightening) products as (I think) most of them could cause sun sensitivity(sun allergy person here) and really I don't hate my skin tone as much as I used to but yeah.. The last thing that I want is to be "whiter"

    The thing is that since I moved cities I got a lot of sun spots (I used to have any) and a bit of redness, I cant have IPL or Laser done because my extreme sensitive skin or use a higher sunblock because there is any sunblock( that I know) with more ppd that the ones that I'm currently using.

    But this mask look nice! And as you said the active ingredients are good and it looks like it wont make me more sun sensitive so maybe I could try it?

    Do you think It can help me with my sun spots ( they are getting darker and now are like nw 10/15) without getting lighter skin? or if I want to get rid of them I have to resigned myself to get lighter?

    Thank you

    1. @Ann: Vitamin C should be fairly safe, since it's in the form of 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid. Usually it's retinol or some sort of acid (e.g. glycolic acid) in high concentrations that can make your skin more light-sensitive. From what I can tell of the product, it should be fine to use. I may be wrong and I don't know your skin exactly, so you may still want to excercise caution, but I doubt there is cause for undue worry. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Great post and review! This seems like a great one to try out. Kinda curious on how it will work on my skin.

  3. I need to try it!


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