This lavender-scented creamy moisturizer is supposed to contain a special peptide that stimulates stem cell activity in skin. Thankfully, that isn’t remotely possible, because in real life that wouldn’t be a good thing for your skin.
As with so many things in the cosmetics industry, budding scientific research is contrived and spun to make a skin-care product sound worthy of your attention. Cosmetics companies seem to have “breakthrough” discoveries long before modern medicine and science can report a breakthrough. Of course, that’s because cosmetics are not regulated and the companies can get away with making almost any cleverly couched claim they dream up, no real proof required. That’s not even close to the way stem cells are being studied and tested in the scientific and medical realms. But, as you know, it hasn’t stopped many cosmetics companies from heralding stem cell stimulation as the next fountain of youth. (Who needs proof to believe their skin will be ageless, right?)
As it happens, this moisturizer has the tiniest amount of peptide imaginable, and there’s not a shred of evidence demonstrating that this peptide, or any peptide, or any other ingredient, has any effect on the activity of stem cells in your skin. What we do know is that this moisturizer contains potent irritants that keep your skin from looking younger due to the collagen breakdown they can cause, among other problems. The lavender oil causes skin cell death and enhances oxidative damage, and the bergamot oil contains volatile components that can cause skin discolorations in the presence of sunlight (Sources: Contact Dermatitis, September 2008, pages 144–150; Cell Proliferation, June 2004, pages 221–229; and www.naturaldatabase.com).
This product is packaged in an airless jar, which is nice in terms of avoiding air exposure and contamination from dipping your fingers in the product, but that doesn't change what's problematic about the formula.
This does have a pleasant emollient texture, but someone with dry skin deserves a lot more than this product can deliver, especially if the goal is to help your skin look and act younger.
Restart your skin’s metabolism! This innovative treatment combines years of research and cutting-edge technology. Kate brings you peptide P-199, which is a synthetic peptide that stimulates stem cell activity and restores the skin with new energized cells. CytoCell treats all signs of aging, to make your skin appear more youthful!
Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Dimethicone, C4-24 Alkyl Dimethicone/Divinyldimethicone Crosspolymer, Isodecyl Isononanoate, Isohexadecane, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Pentylene Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Behenyl Alcohol, Linoleic Acid, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Whey Protein, Cetearyl Glucoside, Linolenic Acid, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Polysorbate 80, Disodium EDTA, O-Cymen-5-Ol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Lavandula Hybrida Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Polydiethyleneglycol Adipate/IPDI Copolymer, Tocopherol, Tropolone, Polypeptide-72, Citronellol, Limonene, Linalool
Kate Somerville At-A-Glance
Strengths: Provides complete ingredient lists on their website; effective Anti Bac Clearing Lotion for acne; good eczema cream; some fantastic serums and moisturizers chock-full of beneficial ingredients.
Weaknesses: Expensive; irritating cleansers and scrubs; several products contain irritating ingredients with no proven benefit for skin; disappointing CC cream.
The woman behind this line is a Los Angeles–based aesthetician who owns her own clinic, which specializes not only in aesthetic services but also in cosmetic corrective procedures involving injections (dermal fillers), lasers, Botox, and the like. The clinic is staffed with a doctor and nurses, which is definitely what you want if you're considering services beyond a facial or a massage.
The selling points of this line are Somerville's years of experience in the aesthetics industry and her allegedly devoted celebrity clientele. As such, her products and famous clientele get press in the pages of fashion magazines, which explains why we routinely get asked about this skin-care line. Somerville herself is every bit as attractive as her star clients, and the information on her Web site is presented in such a way that you sincerely believe she has your skin's best interests in mind. And wouldn't you want to trust your skin's needs to a professional who also tends to celebrities?
Knowing all these details, we were anticipating that most of the products bearing Somerville's name would be state-of-the-art slam dunks. Alas, many of them are far afield from that level of formulation. When it comes to giving skin what it needs to function as healthily and normally as possible (and, at these prices, that's what you should expect), this line is, unfortunately, hit or miss. What Somerville knows about giving an amazing facial is one thing, but she clearly missed the research that proves how problematic several of the plant oils that she uses can be. A professional concerned with the health of her clients' skin shouldn't be formulating products with cinnamon, grapefruit, and lavender oils, among others.
If we were one of Somerville's clients, we'd certainly take her to task for that oversight, but we'd also want to know why she offers only one sunscreen and doesn't offer any effective AHA or BHA exfoliants. A discussion of advanced skin science and state-of-the-art ingredients is not sufficient if your product line has gaps: limited sun protection options, no reliable exfoliants, no non-drying cleansers, and a complete lack of options to treat skin discolorations (pigment irregularities, unlike blackheads, cannot be manually extracted, which makes the absence of a skin lightening product an issue).
This product line may not be the one you want to build your skin-care routine around, but there are some exceptional products. Of all the aesthetician-backed lines we've reviewed, none come as close to providing the level of formulary excellence of many of Somerville's moisturizers and serums. They're pricey, but if you're going to spend in excess for skin-care products, you should be doing so on products that stand a very good chance of markedly improving your skin’s appearance. We are curious to see how this product line will expand and (hopefully) improve over the years. The current mishmash of awesome and awful products makes it risky to shop this line blindly (or on the sole rationale of a celebrity endorsement), but with careful consideration to avoid irritants you can find some products of value. Hopefully, she will expand the line to fill in the current gaps (especially for sun protection) and eliminate the irritants.
For more information about Kate Somerville, now owned by Unilever, call (800) 984-5283 or visit www.katesomerville.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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