Face oils, like Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, are probably the most divisive of all skincare products. If you love them, you really love them, and if you don't, well, you steer clear. I should just come out and admit that I'm a subscriber of the former camp, and I'll extoll the virtues of facial oils to anyone and everyone who will listen.
I do understand, though, that facial oils are scary stuff, especially if your skin is on the oilier side of things to start off with. But there's no need to worry—the right type of oil will actually make your skin glow, instead of greasy. I'd like to show you a brilliant entry point to the category (whether you're a diehard oil user or not) and the oil I keep coming back to even when tempted by fancier, pricier versions. Consider this my ode to Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate.
Pros + Cons:
- Doesn't feel heavy or greasy
- Smooths and soothes your complexion
- Contains essential oils
- Effective, but can be expensive
The Bottom Line: Definitely a cult classic
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate is a cult classic skincare product for a reason. With its dry-touch feel and a host of good-for-your-skin ingredients, it lives up to its claims to give you brighter, smoother skin overnight.
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate
Best for: Dry skin
Uses: Revives and rejuvenates dull, tired, and dry skin
Star Rating: 4.8/5
Potential allergens: Essential oils
Active ingredients: Squalane
About the brand: Kiehl's began as a humble pharmacy in Manhattan in 1851. Now, the brand boasts a wide variety of cult classic skin, hair, and body products that are designed to address a variety of concerns.
About My Skin: Plump and hydrated
My skin is relatively "good," except for those mornings after a long night out. But there's not an evening that goes by that doesn't include the slathering of a rich, nourishing oil and a quick once over with a jade roller. Alongside vitamin C and a little AHA once in a while, I'm certain I have facial oils to thank for my plump and hydrated skin.
Ingredients: Lots of good-for-you oils
Inside this little blue bottle lies a concoction of essential oils including lavender (the ultimate sleep inducer—just see these pillow sprays for proof) and evening primrose oil. But I know you're wondering, what other benefits does lavender essential oil have? Well, it has tons of antioxidants that fight free radical damage while nourishing your skin. Evening primrose oil reduces inflammation, increases your skin's elasticity, and tightens and firms skin. There's also squalane, a skincare stalwart known for its ability to boost moisture, which in turn, leads to brighter skin. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids that give your skin that plump bounce, increase hydration, and nourish your skin's moisture barrier while you sleep.
But if you're sensitive to botanical essential oils and flower extracts, you should be aware that this oil does contain a whole smattering of them. It also contains a blend of rosemary leaf oil, rose flower oil, jasmine extracts, and coriander seed oil.
Squalane is a naturally occurring substance in our skin but is typically derived from olives when used in cosmetics. It balances oil production, reduces inflammation and wrinkles, strengthens your skin's moisture barrier, and fights free radicals.
The Feel: Dry oils do exist
Of course, the idea that an oil can profess to be non-greasy is absurd—greasiness is oiliness and oils are, by nature, oily. But this one does have a drier sort of finish to it, which you can feel as you rub a little between your fingers. There's gentle friction at play, which you know means it won't slip and slide over the skin but should sit nicely in place until it's time to sink in. And speaking of sinking in, this oil absorbs lightning fast, so no worries of it wrecking your pillowcases or staining your robe.
Still convinced it'll wreak havoc with your overenthusiastic sebum glands? It's counterintuitive, but applying oil actually tricks the skin into thinking that it's already made enough of its own, so in time, it's believed oil can train your skin to be less oily—go figure.
Applying oil actually tricks the skin into thinking that it's already made enough of its own, so in time, it's believed oil can train your skin to be less oily.
You apply it at night (hence "midnight" being in the name) to take advantage of the fact that at night our skin enters recovery mode. You can use it alone, or add it to your favorite PM moisturizer to give it a hydration boost. Weirdly, our skin's barrier decreases in density at night, which means these ingredients have a better chance of reaching their lower layers and making a real difference. You only need about two to three drops each night to reap the full benefits. If you're looking for a way to carve out some self-care each night, massage the oil into your skin, starting at your jawline and up to your forehead. And don't forget to apply it to your neck and decolletage area, too.
The Results: Reliable and dependable
And make a difference it does. I always turn to it when my skin is looking whacked-out, and my skin drinks it up before I've even had the chance to put my book down and turn the light off. It's so reliable that I know that only after a few days of using the oil, my skin will be back to its usual, perky self. And it's that kind of dependability we could all use in our lives.
The Value: Expensive, but worth it
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate is priced at $52 for 1oz or $78 for 1.7oz. It's not exactly the most wallet-friendly purchase for its price per ounce, but I do think that the results (hello soft, dewy skin) are worth it. It's one of those products that you know you can use after a long night out and it'll still look like you got 8 hours of sleep. You definitely can't put a price tag on that.
Similar Products: You have options
The Ordinary 100% Squalane Oil: If you want the feel of the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, but without the essential oils or the hefty price tag, this product is for you. It's priced at a whopping $9 and can also be used in your hair and body.
Revolution Skincare Night Restore Oil: For a still wallet-friendly $14, this oil is formulated with a blend of squalane, lavender, and evening primrose oil that locks in moisture and hydrates your skin while you sleep.
Our Verdict: Two thumbs up
At the end of the day, we can't deny that Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate lives up to (and even exceeds) its cult classic reputation. Its combination of calming essential oils and antioxidant-rich squalane create a skincare one-two punch—soothing and hydrating dry skin with just two drops.
Huang ZR, Lin YK, Fang JY. Biological and pharmacological activities of squalene and related compounds: potential uses in cosmetic dermatology. Molecules. 2009;14(1):540-554. doi:10.3390/molecules14010540