In my Neiman Marcus, between Bobbi Brown and Le Metier de Beaute, there’s a Kate Somerville counter. I was already spending a lot of time “in the area,” and by-and-by I came to be friends with the Kate Somerville sales associate. One day I finally I confessed I knew nothing about her line, and, through a series of conversations, she helped me get educated.
Kate Somerville is an actual person, an aesthetician who worked pre- and post-operatively with the patients of dermatologists and plastic surgeons — first in their offices, and then in a clinic of her own. She didn’t always have perfect skin, which was, strangely enough, one of the first things I liked about her. She suffers from eczema, a chronic, inherited autoimmune disease that results in itchy, scaly patches (and outbreaks can be triggered by stress, among other things). And through a combination of her own experience and her work with others, she recognizes that — no matter what else you’re wearing — it’s hard to feel pretty when you’re not happy with your skin.
Kate’s headquarters are in Los Angeles, and the clinic there offers a wide variety of treatments, from lasers to light treatments to Botox to fillers. For those of us who don’t live in California, every Kate counter is equipped with her DermalQuench device — and, of course, her product line.
DermalQuench is basically an airbrushing machine, which delivers hyaluronic acid serum, followed by oxygen. It’s intended to instantly improve your skin’s hydration and elasticity (best preparing it for the skincare that follows). It’s also part of Hollywood’s unofficial pre-red-carpet checklist. It’s a $260 treatment, but at your local Kate counter, it’s a gift with purchase.
I got “Quenched,” and it felt really nice — soothing and cooling, which was a relief after coming in from +100° heat. The treatment is tailored to each face, so my sales associate, Sonya, treated my whole face, but focused on my smile lines, the lines on my forehead, and the area around my eyes. Unlike some facial treatments I’ve had, DermalQuench left my skin looking and feeling really good. I wasn’t red, I wasn’t super shiny, and I didn’t feel the need to run straight home. I actually got several compliments on my skin just walking out of the mall.
Sonya explained that the effects of DermalQuenching last 4-5 days, so if you’re preparing for a Saturday wedding, she recommends coming in on Wednesday and again on Friday to have your skin looking its best.
Sonya followed the DermalQuench with skincare.
When you first approach the Kate Somerville counter, the product offering seems vast and confusing. It’s actually easier than it looks. Kate’s philosophy, her “skin health pyramid,” is modeled off the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid. Basically, she believes you need the most protection and hydration and only a limited amount of “detoxifying.” This intuitively feels right.
Her AM/PM regimen, simplified, is:
- Exfoliate (once a week for delicate/sensitive skin, or skin that’s actively breaking out, up to three times a week if you’re oily/combo, or trying to even out discoloration)
- Treat (sun damage, hyperpigmentation, bacteria — whatever your skin’s issues are)
- Protect (sunscreen!)
So her product line can be broken down into a few cleansers (Gentle Daily Wash, Purify Exfoliating Cleaser, Detox Daily Cleanser), exfoliators (ExfoliKate Intensive, ExfoliKate Gentle Intensive), treatments (depending what your needs are, things like Quench Serum, Total Vitamin, HydraKate Line Release), moisturizers (KateCeuticals Multi-Active Line Repair, Deep Tissue, CytoCell, Nourish Daily, etc., as well as their corresponding eye creams), and sunscreen. Then there are “extras,” like her tanning towelettes and neck cream. Kate also JUST launched True Lash, an eye makeup remover that speeds up lash growth. Every product in the line was created in response to a need or a client request. (Apparently Paris Hilton’s unfortunate “before” tan inspired the tanning towelettes.)
Your best product mix is determined by your skincare needs and your lifestyle. How much time are you willing to spend on your skincare? Are you managing the stress in your life? Are you eating right? Like any skincare line, you can get in as deep as you want: adding a product or two to your current regimen; embracing the Kate Somerville line wholeheartedly; or you can go even further, adjusting your diet, and finding ways of controlling stress (subjects she discusses in her book, Complexion Perfection!).
Kate’s products are color-coded (green for sensitive, orange for normal-to-oily, blue for acne-prone, the metallic packages are anti-aging), but you can dip into different lines, and as your skin improves with treatment or changes with age, your product mix should change with it.
On me, Sonya used HydraKate Line Release Serum, Deep Tissue moisturizer, and CytoCell Corrective Eye Cream, followed by the SPF 55 tinted sunscreen. I’ve been using samples of the Line Release Serum and Deep Tissue moisturizer at home, and so far I really like them. I’m still exploring the line, but I’m optimistic that Kate could wean me off my Chanel Sublimage samples.
I’d also like to give a special mention to Kate’s Goat Milk Cream for face and Goat Milk Lotion for body. This is the most ridiculously soothing lotion ever. It’s perfect for super-sensitive skin (if you have dermatitis and can’t use anything else, try this), and though of course we’d all rather prevent than treat, it feels amazingly good on a sunburn. The lotion absorbs super fast, so I like to put it on my hands as I’m passing by the counter. (Just a word of warning: the lotion has a very fluid consistency, and it’s packaged in a big tube, so you can dispense way too much if you’re not careful. If you buy your own, I recommend not storing it standing up.)
Kate doesn’t test on animals (though she does test on celebrities), and her line is paraben-free (though she explains in her book, she’s not anti-paraben; she did it to meet client requests).
If you live in Dallas, I definitely recommend stopping by the Kate Somerville counter in Neiman Marcus Northpark. The DermalQuench is worth trying, and Sonya will help you figure out which products can get you the best results.
Here’s the best part, though: if you DON’T live in Dallas, and you’d like to talk to someone who can help you get into the line, call Sonya (214-363-8311, ask for the Kate Somerville counter). She’ll help you figure which products best meet your current needs, AND, if you live in the U.S., she’ll send you samples to try. (Is she not the coolest sales associate ever?)