Review: Kiehls Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution

“A brightening face serum with peony extract and white birch extract that helps reduce the look of dark spots.”


Back when I wanted to experiment with a variety of skincare brands, I picked up Kiehls Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution within a sample set. Hoping that it would help with my areas of hyper pigmentation, I was disappointed to find that even after using the entire bottle, it had no effect on my skin. Though the serum itself was thin, gentle, and soaked in quickly, I certainly won’t be repurchasing as its presence was pretty much irrelevant once applied.

Ingredient Pros and Cons

Ingredients: Aqua/Water, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., PEG/PPG/Polybutylene Glycol-8/5/3 Glycerin, Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, PPG-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Phenoxyethanol, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Potassium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil/Lavender Oil, Disodium EDTA, Adenosine
Linalool, Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Citrus Aurantium Tachibana Peel Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract.

Significant Pros

  • Propylene Glycol (hydrating, humectant)
  • Glycerin (hydrating, humectant)
  • Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol (aids hydration)
  • 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid (stabilized vitamin c)
  • Salicylic Acid (skin exfoliant, acne-fighting)
  • Adenosine (anti-inflammatory, wound-healing )
  • Tocopherol Acetate (version of vitamin E)

Significant Cons

  • Alcohol Denat (harsh alcohol astringent)
  • Citric Acid (skin irritant for sensitive skin)
  • Lavandula Angustifolia Oil/Lavender Oil (skin irritant)
  • Linalool (skin irritant)
  • Citrus Aurantium Tachibana Peel Extract (skin irritant)

The Takeaway

Considering its ineffectiveness and concentration of irritating ingredients, I can’t recommend Kiehls Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution. There are much better, cheaper, concentrations out there for hyper pigmentation (such as The Ordinary’s Niacinimide + Zinc formulation), so there’s no need to splurge on this one, especially when it’s more likely to irritate your skin than illuminate it.

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