Kiehl’s Is Returning to Its Apothecary Roots

Inspired by its heritage, the skincare brand is whipping up customized facial serums.

Apothecary Preparations

Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparations/Photo by Madeline Bilis

When it comes to choosing skincare products, my routine typically goes something like this: Walk into a drugstore. Stare at the wall of options until my eyes glaze over. Panic. Give up and choose whichever recognizable brand has something at my price point. Repeat three months later.

Stepping into the world of Kiehl’s new Apothecary Preparations, then, was a dramatic change of pace. The new service—which is inspired by the brand’s 19th century apothecary past and just launched in 13 cities nationwide, including Boston—sends customers home with a customized facial serum, formulated based on individual concerns and cold, hard data.

Apothecary Preparations

A Kiehl’s clinician tests the author’s (dry) skin/Photo by Madeline Bilis

The process begins with a free 15-minute consultation. First, a white-coated Kiehl’s expert will test your skin’s moisture and oil levels with two test strips. Then, she’ll learn more about your skin’s hydration, using a thermometer-esque machine that painlessly sends a current into your face. Based on how long the current takes to reemerge—signified with a little beep—the clinician is able to assess your hydration levels. (Fifty percent hydration or higher is considered good. For those keeping score at home, mine was a pitiful 22 percent.)

After the tests, conversation turns to the Kiehl’s “Skin Atlas.” Guided by photos in the atlas, you’ll be asked to rate the clarity, pore size, wrinkles, texture, and redness of your skin on a one through four scale.

Once all the testing and assessing and conversing is done, the Kiehl’s specialist will assemble the components of an individualized serum for you to take home, mix, and apply daily, complete with a custom label and instructions. If you opt to purchase your potion, it’ll run you $95.

Whether this concotion is worth its weight in gold remains to be seen. But at least it’ll save you from a drugstore panic attack.

Kiehl’s, 112 Newbury St., Boston,

Apothecary Preparations

Mixing the potion/Photo by Madeline Bilis