Add an additional step into your skincare routine? Is it really necessary? Carrie explores Kiehl's first treatment essence and finds out if it can rival other essences in the market.

With the blasted haze going on right now, before any pimple break outs occur, let me just say it’s time to really unclog those pores and get your skincare game on. That is, if it ain’t already. And, well, Kiehl’s has something to boost your other skincare products. We’re talking allowing your skincare to penetrate deep into the inner layers of your skin sort of “boost”.

Introducing the Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence, the very first treatment essence rolled out by the amazing Kiehl’s R&D team. While the words “treatment essence” has long been synonymous with “SK-II” and it’s “miracle water” in Asia, it looks like Kiehl’s is finally joining this particular product category (long overdue, guys) and offering us consumers and beauty addicts with a value for money, affordable alternative – that, hopefully, works for the most of us!


The Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence ($68) is your answer to a “skincare base product for your routine. The product is meant to treat skin and is recommended as a third step and applied after face wash and toner but pre-serum.

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Treat with Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence
  4. Serum
  5. Moisturise
  6. Protect with Sunscreen

So what are the benefits of including an additional step into your skincare routine?

The Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence is a deeply hydrating and anti-aging product. The precious essence boasts a multi-action formula that promises youthful and radiant skin when used regularly with an existing skincare regime.

Most of the time, our skin becomes dull and loses its smooth texture because of low and decreasing skin hydration levels coupled with a reduction the the cell turnover rate. When this happens, skin is more prone to damage and takes a longer time to heal. The treatment essence reactivates these properties while imparting essential nutrients to skin in order allow penetration of skincare to be effective.


It contains three key ingredients that make it so effective: Iris Florentina Root Extract with its nourishing and anti-aging benefits, Sodium Hyaluronate with its incredible ability to hold up to 1000x its weight in water which keeps skin young and bouncy, and Lipo Hydroxy Acid (LHA) which activates the skin’s natural exfoliation process. Not to worry, the treatment essence while it does have mild exfoliating properties, is gentle and does not leave skin with any discomfort or tingling.

You don’t need a lot of the essence for it to be effective. Just three to four drops will suffice.

The texture of the essence is more viscous than runny and it requires a bit more time to gently pat into skin before it is absorbed completely.


While it works fine with richer serum and moisturiser combos, I would much rather stick to a gel-based moisturiser and lighter serum as the Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence is not what I would consider a “water-based” type of skincare product. It is a cross between gel-like and watery, so having this before the serum and moisturiser got a bit too much for me in the day (just a personal opinion), but at night? Bring it on! I’ll let all the heavier skincare products work through the night together with this treatment essence. The combination left me waking up to absolutely smooth and bouncy skin. Not bad at all.

Oh yes, make up also applies better to skin with this product as a base under all that skincare. Surprise, surprise. This is one hardworking treatment essence, working overtime to get my skin looking great.