It saddens us to give this skin-lightening product a low rating, because the formula has a lot going for it. It's chockfull of arbutin, a proven skin-lightening ingredient, and the arbutin is supported by several other ingredients that can inhibit excess melanin (skin pigment) production, reducing dark spots and an uneven skin tone.
LumiWhite Skin Tone Perfector has a water-light texture dispenses from a dropper affixed to the product's cap. This treatment's texture is suitable for all skin types, but it's downfall is the strong fragrance stemming from a series of plant oils known to be problematic for skin. The citrus oils of grapefruit, lime, and lemon are particularly upsetting to see, as each of these can cause what's known as a phototoxic reaction when skin is exposed to sunlight without sun protection (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com). The result? More dark spots! This also contains other problematic plant ingredients, including angelica root oil, which adds to the phototoxic potential (Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, March 2007, pages 1737–1742). See More Info to learn how daily use of highly fragrant products like this can hurt skin.
Without all of the problematic plant oils (and mind you, lots of plant oils are great for skin—just not most of the ones included here), this skin-lightening product would be an easy one to recommend, assuming you're OK with the price. As mentioned, it contains lots of lightening ingredients that should positively impact dark spots, and is also loaded with great antioxidants that can work to reduce inflammation and strengthen skin.
One more comment: the high amount of Bellis perennis (daisy flower, also known as wild daisy) this product contains can make it a trigger for anyone with ragweed allergies, as daisy is part of this plant allergen's family.
Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Dermatitis, November-December 2013, pages 283–290; Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
This lightweight, fast-absorbing serum is infused with Kate’s Lumin8 Complex, a proprietary blend of 8 active ingredients working synergistically on multiple levels to address all 3 stages of skin discoloration. This powerful formula diminishes the appearance of discoloration for a more even skin tone, while helping to inhibit discoloration from reappearing. Natural Fruit Extracts help optimize cell turnover for improved skin clarity and luminosity. An innovative Hyaluronic Acid Booster provides essential hydration for soft, supple skin. The result is a more translucent, even complexion.
Water/Aqua/Eau, Arbutin, Caprylyl Methicone, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Bellis Perennis (Daisy) Flower Extract, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Nylon-6/12, Sodium Ascorbyl Glucoside, Acetyl Rheum Rhaponticum Root Extract, Panthenyl Triacetate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glabridin, Punica Granatum Extract , Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Extract, Ellagic Acid, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Dipeptide-4, Lecithin, Lepidium Sativum Sprout Extract, Disodium Acetyl Glucosamine Phosphate, Aminoethylphosphinic Acid, Glycerin, Tridecyl Stearate, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Ethylhexylglycerin, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Oil , Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Angelica Archangelica Seed Oil, Illicium Verum (Anise) Fruit/Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Extract, Gamma Undecalactone, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Jasminum Sambac (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Ferula Galbaniflua (Galbanum) Resin Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ethyl Acetoacetate, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil , Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol
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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