Imagine answering your front door only to find that your delivery boy from the local apothecary is actually a monkey. In the trippy ’70s, this is the kind of personal service Kiehl’s, the New York-based trendy skin care company, provided to its jaded Beverly Hills clientele. The monkey delivery system has long been retired, but the 155-year-old company (now owned by L’Oréal) has kept its indie spirit alive. Its products are cult favourites among beauty editors, models, actresses and makeup artists who swear by such Kiehl’s staples as Crème de Corps body lotion and Lip Balm #1.

True to its pharmacy roots — and in keeping with the current focus on science-based skin care — Kiehl’s recently launched its first line of cosmeceuticals, Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions. The product generating the most buzz is the Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, which harnesses vitamin C to boost collagen production and improve the skin’s texture and tone. Not the first company to use this anti-aging vitamin, the Kiehl’s formula has one of the highest concentrations of stabilized vitamin C (10.5 percent) on the market, not to mention the highest pH (7), says Dr. James Leyden, who sits on the Kiehl’s dermatology panel, which advised on the line. “And it’s better tolerated by sensitive skin than treatments with a low pH.” What’s more, the cream reduces the appearance of wrinkles as effectively as retinol (vitamin A) products, but without the irritation.

So who is it for? “Some customers will be in their mid-30s or mid-40s,” says Donna Paty, Kiehl’s National Education manager. “It depends on genetics and lifestyle.”

Looking ahead, Leyden predicts we’ll see more cosmeceuticals with botanical extracts. “I can’t say what they’ll be, because that’s top secret.” Stay tuned…Orange pop
• Eating a vitamin C-rich orange won’t diminish facial wrinkles, but if you apply vitamin C-enriched creams, they will stimulate collagen production, which helps soften the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

• Vitamin C also blocks free radicals from destroying collagen. (Free radicals are unstable molecules that form when we’re exposed to sun or pollution.)

Quirky Kiehl’s facts
• Legend has it that the New York-based company’s signature fragrance — Original Musk Oil — was created in the 1920s by a relative of the Kiehl’s founding family (a Russian prince, no less). Stored in the basement of the East Village store, in a vat named Love Potion, the formulation was rediscovered in 1958.

• Andy Warhol, a regular of the New York store, was a huge fan of Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion — one of the oldest products in the 300-strong product line.

• Second-generation owner Aaron Morse, a motorcycle buff, collected the vintage bikes now on display in Kiehl’s stores. In the 1970s, he hired Hells Angels as the East Village store’s security force.