This daytime moisturizer with sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection via its mineral sunscreens of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The opaque formula has a lightweight lotion texture best for normal to combination or slightly dry skin. Despite the fact that this blends well and does feel "waterlight", it also leaves a subtle, but visible, white cast on skin. It is not a hydrating formula, so if you have dry areas you'll need to apply a separate moisturizer over those areas or a different sunscreen formula than this one.
We love that this is loaded with anti-aging ingredients, including peptides, antioxidants, and some soothing and repairing ingredients. It's a great example of what a daytime moisturizer with sunscreen should contain, as well as what it shouldn't contain, as this is one of the few Somerville products to omit fragrant irritants like lavender oil (though it does contain fragrance, albeit a small amount).
As for the claim that this product's delivery system keeps the sunscreen actives on skin's surface, that's what any well-formulated sunscreen does—because if the actives absorb into skin then you won't have much left on the surface to serve as skin's first line of defense! In terms of the actives remaining on skin's surface while the "Advanced Actives" (which, technically, are the inactive ingredients) "penetrate deeply", this formula doesn't contain any penetration enhancers not found in lots of other daytime moisturizers—and how deeply any ingredient penetrates depends greatly on its molecular size. The majority of cosmetic ingredients remain in skin's uppermost layers, which isn't all that deep, but deep enough so you'll see benefits without risking issues that can occur when ingredients penetrate past where they can do the most good.
What about the PA+++ designation? We explain what that means in the More Info section, so do check that out if you're curious to know more!
PA followed by plus signs (PA+++, for example) is a designation used in Japan for rating the UVA protection of a sunscreen. The SPF number is about the sun's UVB rays; there are very few countries that have a UVA rating reference. Three plus symbols after the "PA" indicate the highest level of UVA protection, which can be as low as PA+, which means some UVA protection.
The PA standard is not accepted or used in other countries, but because NARS is owned by Japan-based Shiseido, some of their products have begun to include it on the labeling. The concept is interesting, but ultimately the SPF rating and the active ingredients matter far more because the method of assessing UVA protection is not widely accepted, primarily because it is very difficult to get agreement from scientists on what tests to use and what they mean.
This ultra-fluid, waterlight sunscreen—that blends effortlessly into skin—provides hydration, SPF50+ broad spectrum protection, and anti-aging benefits. A cutting-edge delivery system ensures that the Sunscreen stays in a reservoir on the skin’s surface, while Advanced Ingredients penetrate to restore optimal moisture levels and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Active ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 8.3%, Zinc Oxide 12.6% Inactive ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Isododecane, Dimethicone, Butyloctyl Salicylate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Glycerin, Caprylyl Methicone, Dicaprylyl Ether, Nylon-6/12, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Coconut Alkanes, Methylcellulose, Stearic Acid, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Adenosine, Lentinus Edodes Extract, Trehalose, Triacetin, Tocopherol, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Urea, Sodium PCA, Parfum (Fragrance), Ethylhexylglycerin, Polysorbate 20, Polyquaternium-51, Carbomer, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Lactate, Disodium EDTA, Benzoic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Alumina.
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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