Skip to main content

A Short History of Kiehl’s

Some highlights from Kiehl’s 165-year history.

1851
Brunswick Apotheke opens as a neighborhood pharmacy on the corner of 13th Street and Third Avenue in New York.

1884
Apprentice John Kiehl purchases the original East Village location and renames it Kiehl Pharmacy.

1921
Irving Morse buys the pharmacy from John Kiehl, introducing skin and hair products under the name Kiehl’s Since 1851.

1920s
Under Morse’s influence, customer sampling is encouraged, and “try before you buy” becomes the pharmacy’s motto. Kiehl’s also begins listing its ingredients on product labels.

1961
Aaron Morse takes over the family business from his father, Irving.

RELATED STORY: Kiehl’s, Edgy by Store Design >>

1960s
In an attempt to appeal to male customers, Aaron Morse begins displaying his collection of vintage Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles as decor inside the pharmacy.

1964
Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion launches. Store regular Andy Warhol loves it so much that he only buys it in its largest size, a 32-oz.bottle.

You May Also Like

1969
Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 is launched.

1970s
Ultra Facial Moisturizer and Creme de Corps are introduced.

1971
Bergdorf Goodman becomes the first wholesale account.

1988
Jami Morse Heidegger, daughter of Aaron Morse, takes the helm of the family business.

1988
As its first foray into “adventure testing,” Kiehl’s sponsors the first ascent of Mount Everest’s East Face without supplemental oxygen. Climbers are supplied with skin-care formulas from the company to protect skin from the elements.

2000
After customer demand becomes overwhelming, Jami Morse Heidegger sells Kiehl’s to Cosmair, the American licensee of L’Oréal that will later become L’Oréal USA, for an estimated $180 million.

RELATED STORY: The Age of Kiehl’s Since 1851 >>

2001
Kiehl’s opens its second freestanding store in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco. Plans for Boston and Los Angeles locations are unveiled.

2002
The first international freestanding store opens in London’s Covent Garden.

2005
Dermatologist Solutions is launched with three items, including the Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate with a 10.5 percent level of stabilized vitamin C, said to withstand degradation.

2006
Ultra Fac ial Cream, a richer version of the original Ultra Facial Moisturizer, is introduced.

2009
With the launch of Midnight Recovery Concentrate, Kiehl’s becomes an early adopter of the facial oil trend.

2010
LifeRide for amfAR, a 12-day charity motorcycle trip, is introduced to fund AIDS research. Routes over the years have ranged from San Diego to San Francisco to Miami to Washington.

2014
The Oil Eliminator skin-care range, developed with a proprietary technology based in aerogel, an insulation material used by NASA, is introduced. An outer-space-themed social media campaign ensues, centered on the launch of a weather balloon carrying the new products to an elevation of almost 120,000 feet above the Earth.

2016
The Smithsonian Institution adds 10 products to its Kiehl’s collection, which numbers more than 100.