Blu Atlas or Kiehl’s Skincare: Which Is Better?


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Jan 28, 2024

Blu Atlas or Kiehl’s Skincare: Which Is Better?

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Natural skincare brands rooted in science offer the best of both worlds. They bring you clean, safe formulas without sacrificing results. Put them at an affordable price range, and it doesn't get much better. Enter Kiehl's and Blu Atlas, two science-backed natural skincare brands with heaps of five-star products.

You’ve probably heard of Kiehl's or used their products before. Kiehl's is a brand with a long history in the skincare industry (their original apothecary store opened its doors in 1851). Over the decades, they have become a go-to brand for men and women of all ages and skin types. Today, they have over 250 stores worldwide and are sold in large retailers such as Sephora and Walmart. They’re known for their approachable formulas, ingredient transparency and nature-inspired products that are proudly science-backed and chemist-formulated. Kiehl's has a wide array of unisex skincare products, hair and body care, as well as an entire skincare range dedicated to men.

Founded in 2022, Blu Atlas is a newer personal brand making waves across the industry. They were born out of a desire to create premium personal care products for men that prioritize high-quality natural ingredients. Blu Atlas works with an impressive medical advisory board of some of America's top dermatologists, so their formulas are efficacious and backed by cosmetic science experts. Most of their products cater to men's personal care needs – from wearable everyday cologne and shaving must-haves to skincare and body care essentials. But most of their products, like those I’m reviewing below, work for everyone, regardless of gender.

So, which brand's products are better? Keep reading for an in-depth comparison of eight of the best Kiehl's and Blu Atlas products, plus which ones are worth adding to your skincare routine.

The Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser comes with three different scent options that let you customize your experience. I opted for the brand's Classic scent, which is masculine, earthy and naturally derived. It also lingers on the skin even after washing. It has a semitransparent gel texture that works into a bubbly lather when mixed with water. In contrast to the Calendula Deep Cleansing Foam, this face cleanser has an ultra-gentle exfoliation factor, which makes the skin feel baby soft.

The Blu Atlas wash uses gentle, non-stripping surfactants to cleanse the skin without drying it. It also contains glycerin and includes more skin-barrier-supporting ingredients than Kiehl's version, such as radish root ferment filtrate (supports the skin's microbiome) and pomegranate seed oil, which is anti-inflammatory and contains high levels of antioxidants and omega fatty acids. Because of this, it caters to all skin types, from oily to dry. To deepen the cleansing experience (and provide light exfoliation), it also contains bentonite clay – aka volcanic ash – and charcoal powder.

This face cleanser comes in a blue glass bottle with Blu Atlas branding. It doesn't come with a pump, however, which means it can be difficult to control how much product comes out.


$25 (4 fl oz)

The Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash has a clear gel consistency that creates a thick, satisfying, sudsy lather. You just need one pump of this cleanser to cover your entire face, so the large bottle will last a long time. The addition of lemon peel, chamomile, geranium and lemongrass oils gives it a pleasant citrus, herbal scent.

Like the Blu Atlas Face Cleanser, this foaming face wash uses non-stripping surfactants to cleanse the skin and provide a foaming consistency. It also contains hydrating glycerin to keep skin soft and moisturized, as well as soothing calendula extract. This face wash contains citrus peel oils, which can be mildly phototoxic during the daytime, so always wear sunscreen when using this cleanser during the day.

This cleanser comes in a large amber-colored plastic bottle with a pump.

Normal to oily

$38 (7.8 fl oz)

Although the Kiehl's Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash got points for its pump and larger bottle size, I ultimately didn't find it to be anything special. It's a solid gel cleanser, ideal for normal and oily skin types. On the flip side, the Blu Atlas Face Cleanser works for all skin types. It balanced cleansing and gentle exfoliation with nourishing ingredients that never make your skin feel tight or dry.

Like the Blu Atlas Face Cleanser, the Face Moisturizer has three scent options. To keep the comparison close to Kiehl's facial cream, I opted for the fragrance-free version. Without added fragrance, this moisturizer still has a pleasant, neutral scent.

The Face Moisturizer has a thick consistency and whipped texture, thanks to star ingredient mango seed butter. Compared to Kiehl's moisturizer, which can leave skin glowy and dewy, the Blu Atlas Face Moisturizer is non-greasy and sinks right in, so you won't even notice you have moisturizer on. Because of this, it wasn't hydrating enough for my dry skin. However, I think anyone with oily skin would love its non-greasy feel.

The ingredient list on the Blu Atlas Face Moisturizer is simple and natural, focusing on four main ingredients. Mango seed butter, a rich source of natural vitamins and antioxidants, helps moisturize the skin and protects it from environmental stress. Moringa seed oil is a lightweight, hydrating oil that benefits all skin types.

It also contains seaweed extract, which naturally hydrates, brightens and regulates oil production. Last but not least, there is vitamin C in the form of 3-O ethyl ascorbic acid, an effective staple that brightens and adds antioxidant protection. Long story short, it's chock-full of anti-aging antioxidants.

The Face Moisturizer comes in a branded blue glass container with a black metal lid.


Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream is their top-selling product, and (spoiler alert) it was my favorite product of theirs that I tried. Don't let the word "cream" fool you. This is more like a lightweight lotion in a jar. It blends in beautifully and leaves your skin bouncy, hydrated and supple. Because the formula is lightweight and glides over the skin, I find that you need less product to cover your entire face.

Compared to the Blu Atlas Face Moisturizer, this formula has far more ingredients – which I think works to its advantage. It's created with numerous emollients and nourishing plant oils, including squalane, avocado oil and apricot kernel oil. The Ultra Facial Cream also has hydrating glycerin and glacial glycoprotein.

On the downside, it does contain myristyl myristate, a waxy emollient that scores a five out of five on the comedogenicity index. This doesn't affect everyone, but if you are prone to acne and clogged pores, you might want to avoid this ingredient and, sadly, this moisturizer.

This moisturizer comes in a white plastic jar that makes getting the product out a breeze.

All (even sensitive)

$38 (1.7 fl oz)

If you’re going to buy one product from Kiehl's, make it this one. I now know why this best-selling formula is so beloved: This moisturizer sinks in quickly and instantly makes your skin feel soft and hydrated. Plus, it's gentle and suitable for even the most sensitive skin.

However, this is just based on my skin type. If your skin is oily or acne-prone, the Blu Atlas moisturizer might be your perfect match.

The Eye Stick by Blu Atlas has a water-like consistency that helps to hydrate the skin while awakening the under-eye region. Unlike the Kiehl's Eye Fuel, which has conditioning ingredients and silicone, the Eye Stick is all about hydration. It won't necessarily moisturize your skin, but that's totally fine. The lightweight texture makes it perfect for quick refreshes or layering underneath other serums and moisturizers. And because it's light, it sinks in quickly.

The Eye Stick contains caffeine, niacinamide and vitamin C (in the form of ascorbic acid). These provide antioxidant protection, brighten the skin and reduce puffiness. The base of the Eye Stick is rose flower water, which relieves dullness and puffiness, and is also naturally rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.

It also contains skin-plumping sodium hyaluronate, soothing panthenol and anti-aging algae extract. Compared to the Eye Fuel, where the peptides were located at the very bottom of the ingredient list in low percentages, the Eye Stick contains a generous amount of palmitoyl tripeptide-5. This peptide helps stimulate collagen production and improve skin firmness.

The Eye Stick comes in a semi transparent blue glass bottle with a metal roller ball that lets you glide the product directly onto the skin while providing a cooling effect.


$35 (0.3 fl oz)

The Kiehl's Eye Fuel Eye Gel comes from their men's skincare line, though it also works for women. The creamy gel formula immediately makes your under-eye area feel smoother and more hydrated.

The star ingredients in Kiehl's Eye Fuel are caffeine, which helps reduce under-eye puffiness, and niacinamide (aka vitamin B3), which helps brighten skin and smooth wrinkles. It also contains vitamin E, glycerin and ascorbyl glucoside, a stable form of vitamin C. Though they’re at the bottom of the ingredient list, this eye cream does have two peptides that help support firmer skin.

This eye cream contains dimethicone, a common silicone that temporarily smooths skin. This is important to note, as many people avoid silicones in skincare products as they can clog pores and don't offer any long-term skin benefits.

Eye Fuel comes in a slim blue 15 mL tube with a pointed applicator. The precise applicator lets you dispense the product onto your finger; it is not for direct application onto the skin.


$28 (0.5 fl oz)

The Eye Stick may be a little pricier than the Kiehl's Eye Fuel, but it's worth it. Unlike Kiehl's eye cream, it doesn't contain any pointless fillers, it is loaded with antioxidants and other valuable nutrients, and it has more potent concentrations of ingredients like peptides. It also gets major points for its cooling and mess-free applicator.

The Blu Atlas Exfoliating Scrub has a creamier texture than Kiehl's Micro-Dermabrasion scrub. This is partly because it contains texture-enhancing emollients like palmitic and stearic acids and partly because the exfoliants themselves are gentler.

This scrub never pulls or tugs, and I wasn't worried about damaging my skin—unlike with other face scrubs on the market. It gave my skin a squeaky-clean feeling afterward but wasn't drying. I used the scrub after cleanser two to three times a week, as suggested by the brand, but it could also work as a morning cleanse for those with normal or dry skin.

The Blu Atlas Exfoliating Scrub has more recognizable, naturally derived ingredients than Kiehl's scrub, which is a bonus for many people. To exfoliate, there are gentle jojoba esters, bamboo stem powder and silica, each of which provides additional skin benefits. For instance, bamboo stem is naturally antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, so it can help treat acne, redness and dark spots.

This scrub is also full of soothing and nourishing ingredients such as panthenol, glycerin, allantoin, hibiscus flower, vitamin E and skin-softening fatty acids. The added moisturizers help combat potential dryness and irritation when you exfoliate.

This scrub comes in Blu Atlas’ distinctive blue glass container with a black metal lid. The packaging is compact and travel-friendly, it is easy to get product out.


$25 (2 fl oz)

This is undoubtedly the most intense face scrub I’ve ever used. The ultra-fine micro-dermabrasion beads felt like they could belong in a clinic treatment, which is both a positive and a negative. If you’re looking for a high-impact micro-dermabrasion scrub to improve skin texture and promote skin repair, then this is an excellent option. However, it's probably not suitable for everyone.

I thoroughly enjoyed this product and found it incredibly effective at making my skin feel softer and smoother, but because it's so intense, I wouldn't use it as often as Kiehl's recommends. The brand suggests using it three times a week, but I’d only reach for this once or twice a month, or whenever I wanted to reset my skin.

Micronized shells, or diatomaceous earth, is the primary exfoliant in this scrub, which are broken down into a fine powder that sloughs away dull, rough skin. To help combat irritation, it also includes soothing willow herb, conditioning shea butter and hydrating glycerin.

The re-texturizing scrub comes in an easy-to-use 2.5-ounce bottle that allows you to dispense the product into the palm of your hand and keeps the product sanitary.

All (might be too strong for sensitive skin)

$46 (2.5 fl oz)

I loved both face scrubs equally, but they’re very different in terms of texture, user experience, and ingredients. If you’re looking for a facial scrub you can turn to several days a week, then go for the Blu Atlas Exfoliating Scrub. It's gentle enough to use regularly to promote a bright and even skin tone, and you don't have to worry about it being too rough or irritating on the skin. On the other hand, if you want a micro-dermabrasion scrub that's effective at smoothing the skin and promoting cell repair, you must give Kiehl's Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion scrub a try.

The formulation is a deep silver-gray that makes the overall face mask experience more enjoyable and spa-like. It also has a subtly fresh, slightly minty scent. You leave it on for 10 to 20 minutes, and during that time, your skin never feels dry or tight, something you experience with most clay masks. Even after the first time using this mask, you’ll notice how clean, calm and nourished your skin feels.

Kaolin and charcoal powder are the primary ingredients in this mask. Gentle kaolin clay draws out impurities, toxins and excess oils from the pores. Similarly, charcoal deeply cleanses and purifies skin to absorb sebum, treat blackheads and acne, and reduce the appearance of pores. This face mask also contains moisturizing grapeseed and moringa seed oils, as well as nourishing plant extracts. Goji berry extract and algae extract – brimming with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients – support a bright, healthy complexion.

The face mask comes in Blu Atlas’ blue glass container with a black metal lid. The packaging is compact and travel-friendly, and getting product out is easy.


$38 (2 fl oz)

This face mask is an Allure Beauty award winner, so I had high hopes going in. The overall texture is thick and creamy. It goes on in a smooth, even layer that can be applied thin or built up. It has a light gray color and natural clay scent, courtesy of its central ingredient Amazonian white clay (also known as kaolin clay).

I’ve used this mask once a week for a couple weeks, and while I haven't noticed any crazy changes, I have enjoyed it, and it wasn't overly drying on my already dry skin. Most users recommend including this in your routine two to three days a week, so I’d say consistency is key with this mask.

The primary pore cleansers in this formula are mineral-rich kaolin and bentonite clays, which are superb at soaking up excess oil, toxins and dead skin cells that can cause breakouts and enlarged pores. It also contains moisturizers and humectants (hydrating ingredients) such as propanediol, glycerin, aloe vera and oat kernel flour.

This mask does contain added color in the form of titanium dioxide, which is a gentle, non-irritating ingredient.

This face mask comes in a white plastic jar like most clay masks.

Normal to oily

$45 (4.2 fl oz)

Both clay masks are fantastic. For my skin – which leans more dry and sensitive – I’d opt for the Blu Atlas mask because it is non-drying and works for all skin types. However, the Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask is a beauty award winner for a reason, and those with normal, oily or acne-prone skin will love it.

At around half the price of Kiehl's serum, it's hard not to give the Blu Atlas serum a shot – and I’m so glad I did. The serum is enjoyable to use with its natural citrus scent that isn't strong or overpowering. It goes on effortlessly and makes your skin more hydrated and glowy. The ingredients are incredible.

The Blu Atlas Vitamin C Serum uses ascorbic acid as its vitamin C concentrate – it's listed as the second ingredient after water, so you know you’re getting a decent amount – 10% to be exact. In addition to pure vitamin C, there are other natural skin brighteners and antioxidants such as mulberry root, apple fruit, carrot seed oil, vitamin E and ferulic acid, a high-potency antioxidant that boosts the effects of vitamins C and E. It's supported by skin hydrators aloe vera leaf juice, hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

The Vitamin C Serum comes in a blue glass bottle with a pipette applicator.


$35 (1 fl oz)

The Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate is a water-free serum that feels more like a lightweight moisturizer than a gel-like serum. It is a creamy off-white with a light citrus scent thanks to orange and lemon peel oils.

Kiehl's lets you know the percentage of vitamin C (12.5%) in the product. More precisely, the Kiehl's serum is formulated with 10.5% l-ascorbic acid plus a 2% concentration of vitamin C derivative ascorbyl glucoside. It also contains two of the best hydrating ingredients: hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

However, I don't like the use of filler ingredients like dimethicone and Acrylonitrile/Methyl Methacrylate/Vinylidene Chloride Copolymer (yes, that's one ingredient), a type of thermoplastic. While these ingredients can make for a smoother texture, I’d prefer to not use them in my skincare.

The serum comes in a recyclable plastic bottle with a pump that protects the vitamin C from light and oxygen exposure.


$78 (1.7 fl oz)

If I’m going to spend my money on a vitamin C serum, it needs to check a few boxes. First, I need to feel good about the ingredients. I also want a hydrating texture that plumps my skin and allows for layering other serums or moisturizers on top. For me, the Blu Atlas Vitamin C Serum checked those boxes. The ingredients are simple, effective and scientifically backed. Plus, I prefer its lightweight texture and price point.

The Blu Atlas Body Wash comes in two different scent options: Classic and Coconut Apricot. I opted for the Coconut Apricot scent, which is fruity and slightly sweet. I’d say the scent can appeal to anyone because it's not in your face and has a softness that meshes well with your skin's natural fragrance. The formula is pearlescent and produces a creamy, ultra-hydrating lather.

It keeps the coconut theme running with coconut-derived emollients that gently cleanse the skin without stripping it. In addition to these cleansers, it utilizes moisturizing aloe vera leaf juice, which naturally contains vitamins A, C and E. There is also green tea extract which calms the skin, sugarcane that smooths and brightens, and shea butter glycerides that help give this body wash its rich lather. The fragrance is 100% naturally derived.

Sleek white plastic bottle with simple typography (would look smart in anyone's shower).


$25 (8 fl oz)

Another product from Kiehl's men's line, the Body Fuel Wash is an all-in-one hair and body cleanser for men. It's infused with energizing ingredients and scents that leave you feeling refreshed and more awake after use. The aroma is strong, minty, and masculine. Body Fuel has a glossy white texture, creates a nice, sudsy lather, and doesn't leave any film behind on my skin. I haven't used this as a shampoo, but I’m sure it holds up fine.

The Body Fuel Wash contains mild surfactants that help cleanse the skin and produce a silky, rich foam. It also contains zinc (to soothe and purify skin), vitamin C, salicylic acid, caffeine and invigorating menthol. Menthol provides that minty, cooling sensation that is pleasant but potentially drying. In addition, this wash contains fragrance high up on the ingredient list. ("Parfum / fragrance" generally houses 30 to 50 unknown chemicals under one name.)

Standard plastic blue bottle with an aesthetic geared toward men.

All, best for men and may be irritating for sensitive skin

$25 (8.4 fl oz)

Even though I liked using the Body Fuel Wash, I’m more likely to recommend the Blu Atlas Body Wash, primarily based on its ingredients and mass appeal. Whereas the Body Fuel is great for guys who love a minty, invigorating wash, the Blu Atlas’ Body Wash can be used and loved by everyone, whether you opt for the Classic scent or Coconut Apricot.

The Blu Atlas wash has 99% naturally derived ingredients and doesn't have loads of weird ingredients with a bunch of numbers in them (if you know, you know). It also makes me feel good that its fragrance is clean, naturally derived and low on the ingredient list. For me, the priority here isn't fragrance; it's the high-quality ingredients that cleanse, hydrate and soothe.

The Blu Atlas Hair & Body Oil is colorless and incredibly lightweight. It has a clean, pleasant scent reminiscent of a spa, thanks to the addition of rosemary, geranium and lavender.

Like Kiehl's hair oil, you can use this as a restorative scalp treatment to nurture hair growth before washing. However, it can also be applied to the ends of dry or damp hair to smooth frizz and add shine. Because it is so lightweight, I found that when I used a small amount on the ends of my hair, it sank in quickly and didn't make strands greasy.

When used on the skin, its quick-drying texture moisturizes without leaving you slippery like some body oils do. I also use it as a cuticle oil since its hydrating formula can benefit the nails too.

Blu Atlas prides itself on using clean, premium ingredients and making its products as naturally as possible. Their Hair & Body Oil is made from 100% naturally sourced ingredients, including plant oils, extracts and essential oils. It includes 10 conditioning plant oils, including squalane, argan, sweet almond, castor, avocado and jojoba, which moisturize dry scalps, smooth frizz and supply vital nutrients to hair follicles.

It's ideal for promoting hair growth and thickness thanks to its blend of growth-promoting ingredients. Saw palmetto oil and pumpkin seed oil work together to counter DHT, a hormone that contributes to hair loss. Bhringraj and neem oils encourage scalp health and hair growth when massaged into the scalp. It also contains rosemary and lavender oils, which increase circulation to hair follicles for faster growth.

The oil is housed in a brown glass bottle and comes with a pipette applicator, which gives you control over how much product you use and where you apply it. The two-ounce bottle is on par with most hair oils on the market. Plus, it's travel friendly.


$40 (2 fl oz)

The oil is lightweight, transparent and goes on easily, but is noticeably thicker than the Blu Atlas Hair Oil. It has no added fragrance, and has a light natural scent with a hint of rosemary.

This product is designed to be used as a pre-shampoo scalp and hair treatment. Apply the oil to a completely dry scalp, massage it in to stimulate the scalp, and then let it sit so the ingredients can do their thing – I waited around 10 minutes before rinsing it away. After a double shampoo (I recommend doing this if you’re using a scalp oil treatment), there was no leftover oil or residue. While my hair was healthy and shiny afterward, my scalp felt unusually itchy after washing, though the feeling faded after a few hours.

Key ingredients in the Magic Elixir Scalp and Hair Oil include rosemary leaf oil, which naturally contains amino acids, caffeic acid and other beneficial ingredients that can help boost hair growth. There are also nourishing plant oils like avocado, safflower and sweet almond that nourish the skin and hair to combat dryness and increase manageability. To enhance the product's function, it also contains emulsifying ingredients, such as PEG-45 palm kernel glycerides, and emollients that help give the oil its lightweight texture.

This hair oil comes in a slim, yellow-tinted plastic bottle. It features a precise tip that lets you target specific areas on the scalp and hair for swift application. This was my favorite part about the product because it made the application process easy and enjoyable.


$25 (4.2 fl oz)

This is the more expensive option. However, when I take into account the purity of its ingredients, travel-friendly glass packaging and the product's versatility, it's the clear winner.

Still deciding between Kiehl's and Blu Atlas? Give Blu Atlas a shot.

In addition to the careful development that underpins their winning products, Blu Atlas gets a big thumbs up because, unlike Kiehl's, their products are all cruelty-free and vegan. This makes Blu Atlas a fantastic option for those in search of a more ethical alternative. Blu Atlas also focuses on clean, high-impact formulas. All of their products are 96-100% naturally derived and are always free of artificial fragrances, which is something you can't say about Kiehl's.

Both brands’ prices are at a mid-range level, with Blu Atlas being the more affordable of the two. They’re more expensive than drugstore options but less expensive than luxury brands, so they’re accessible to most people. Most of Blu Atlas’ products fall between $25 and $40, while most of Kiehl's top sellers go between $25 and $60. One of their most popular products, the Midnight Recovery Concentrate, is one of the most expensive, at $88 for 1.7 fluid ounces. So, based on price point alone, Blu Atlas takes the cake.

If you are looking for a solid, reliable skincare brand to add to your medicine cabinet, you can't go wrong with Blu Atlas.

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