Kiehl’s portable essence oils

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I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I heart Kiehl’s. I also happen to heart perfume oils. So Kiehl’s new portable essence oil? I’m all over it. And unlike many attempts to update classics that go horribly wrong (New Coke, I’m looking at you), Kiehl’s got it just right by not touching the formula-only the packaging.

They have released 4 of their essence oils in handy roller ball packaging. The scents are Musk 1921, Coriander 1946, Vanilla 1968 and Grapefruit 1976. Each date corresponds to the year the essence’s formulation was created by Kiehl’s pharmacists (love that!) 6 more will be released in the coming months, though back in the day, 122 unique fragrant oils were blended by hand in the original Kiehl’s Pharmacy.

Kiehl’s lore has it that Musk – the first essence oil created and still most beloved by customers – was formulated in the early 1920s by a relative of Kiehl’s founding family, an actual Russian prince! The legend of Kiehl’s Original Musk Oil says that the formulation was deemed “too sensual” for the times and was stashed away in a vat labeled “Love Potion” in the basement – in the deep, dark recesses of the Kiehl’s Pharmacy at 109 Third Avenue in New York City. The vat was not opened again until 1958, at which time a store renovation took place, and was finally introduced to Kiehl’s customers for the first time in 1963.

I have to agree, Rachael at Kiehl’s sent me the Musk 1921 to try and it is one amazing scent. The thought of it being hidden in a basement for 40 years makes me sad for all the sexiness that NYC was deprived of! Rich, deep and spicy-it is everything I look for in a fragrance. Best of all, it’s one of the best layering scents around. Perfect over florals (especially gardenia), great layered with other orientals (sandalwood, amber) and delicious with edibles (vanilla, strawberry). I couldn’t stop sniffing myself all day with this on and don’t imagine I’ll ever not own this again.

Here’s a bit more on the history of each essence…
MUSK 1921
This is Kiehl’s first essence oil and still today, a customer favorite and often referred to as the Original Love Oil. The use of musk dates back more than 1,300 years when it was used by rulers of early Chinese dynasties for its herbal medicinal properties.

Coriander was first used at the original Kiehl’s Pharmacy as medicinal oil for its soothing and healing properties. This aromatic stimulant and spice has been cultivated for over 3,000 years and used by the Egyptians as an aphrodisiac. Known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, Coriander is considered both an herb and a spice, since both its leaves and seeds are used as a seasoning condiment.

Originally cultivated by Pre-Colombian Mesoamerican peoples, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes is credited with introducing both the vanilla spice and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s. The Spanish and Portuguese sailors and explorers brought vanilla into Africa and Asia in the 16th century.

A customer favorite for decades, Grapefruit delights Kiehl’s customers with its fresh and citrusy scent. Grapefruit was first described on Barbados in 1750 and was also called the forbidden fruit because it was seized upon by those searching for the identity of the original tree of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.

Available for $25 at kiehl’


  • Stef Andrews

    Stef is a plethora of things. Amongst them: co-founder of we heart this, photographer, condiment connoisseur, Philly girl in the California desert, borderline hoarder and a hardcore beauty junkie. She also has a touch of wanderlust and, arguably, the cutest dog in the whole world... skin tone: NC 25/30 skin type: oily with a fear of rosacea favorite beauty product: high end skincare and lip products


  1. While I’m not a huge perfume fan, I love scented oils. I can’t wait to try these out. Thanks for the heads up on these Stef.

  2. I LOVE OILS! And Kiehls oils are top of the line! I used to live near the Kiehls shop in NYC when they had tons of oils. Sadly they stopped carrying them and I was so sad because they were all amazing, so this post warms my heart! They are back! And with a handy roller to boot! The Musk is one of my favorites, so clean. And Kiehls Vanilla is one of the best, not real cakey like some Vanillas can be. I am so excited, I’m ordering all 4.I hope they will bring back some of their other oils some day! If this post had 5 stars I’d give Kiehls oils 6!

  3. I’m much more of an oil lover and wearer too Tiffany! Oils seem to last so much longer on my skin and just work better with my chemistry. I had a few sniffs of the Musk and it is right up my alley. The scent is deep but not heavy and I can’t wait to get a portable roller version of my own.

    beauty lovers: If you’re new to Kiehls or wehearttthis, go back and read the we heart Kiehls post for some recommendations on the best from this top notch company.

  4. I love all things scented and I am very picky about the scents I pick you name it candles, oils, parfume, shampoo, laundry detergent I can spend hours sniffing until I find the one I love. Of course it will promptly be discontinued as soon as I purchase it because that’s just my luck. These little bottles of bliss are abfab! You must run and sniff and buy right away.

  5. Stef is not yanking your chain.. Her heart loves Kiehl’s so much so; it’s as if she’s been lured in by some sort of higher power! I’m hoping one of the oils will be my latest favorite..The amazing, “Forest Rain”- it’s another inspired Kiehl’s classic essence that blows me away- it will you too! And what’s even more fantastic, it’s great on a man (SOOOOOOO-NICE) or a women (even BETTER)! I really like the Musk.. it’s a lovely musk like no other.. It’s just simply awesome..I remember stumbling upon it just a few years ago and wanting it as a part of my collection- It’s a scent of heaven-all right!

  6. I have a hard time with smells. When I find one that I can live with and no headache results, I stay with it. I love Kiehl’s oils because I don’t have to smell the same everyday. Musk on Monday, Vanilla on Tuesday etc….

  7. Joyva Jones says:

    Does Keihl’s still carry pure morracan jasmine oil or anything near/like that? They sold it many years ago and it was $25 for a 1/4 oz and worth every penny. Please help.

    Joyva Jones

  8. Wendy O'Connell says:

    Dear Kiehl’s
    I am thrilled to hear Kiehl’s will begin re-introducingyour classic perfume Essence Oils.
    When you dropped Essence’73 (Heather) it was a HUGE disappointment, actually a tragedy for me!
    Beginning in 1974,I wore Essence’73 exclusively until its’ sad demise. Everyone, from my husband to friends to business partners have recognized me by this scent….people still ask me “what happened to your wonderful fragrance you always wore?”
    I have tried literally hundreds of fragrances since and have found none to compare; I have not one perfume that I can wear with any satisfaction.
    OH! If you bring Essence 73 back, I will wear it with abandon and joy until my last day!
    Please please! Do consider this…and if you have a drop left somewhere in your archives, take a whiff and realize the supreme excellence, elegance and pure loveliness of this fragrance– unique and unmatched.
    My very best to you.
    Wendy O’Connell

  9. I really, really, want you to bring back, oh bring back, oh bring back your cucumber oil!

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