Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment is billed as the next best thing to seeing Kate Somerville for an appointment. Well, we don’t think so, not even remotely so.
Packaged in tube, this ordinary topical scrub contains plastic beads as the scrub particles, plus lactic and glycolic acids. You’re supposed to apply it to your skin and leave it on for 2 minutes, then rinse. That’s not much time for the lactic and glycolic acids to work, but the pH of this scrub is too high for exfoliation to occur regardless of how long you leave it on your skin. As for the enzymes, they're likely unstable and inactive once you begin using this product, as enzymes are not reliable exfoliating ingredients.
Actually, leaving this on your skin for even 1 second is a mistake: it’s fraught with irritants, including lavender and bergamot oils. No wonder the company states that redness may appear several minutes after removing this from skin; it’s not “increased circulation” in a healthy sense—it’s increased circulation as a direct response to intense irritation, and that’s bad for skin.
Papaya and pumpkin enzymes digest dead skin cells and gentle beads buff them away. Glycolic acid and lactic acid polish and refine, while rich emollients leave skin supple. Caffeine stimulates, helping tighten and firm as bergamot and lavender oils combine for a soothing scent. Skin everywhere feels soft, looks supple and glows.
Propylene Glycol, PEG-8, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Polyethylene, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Oxidized Polyethylene, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Papain, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Fruit Ferment Filtrate, Caffeine, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Sorbic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Limonene, Linalool
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, call (800) 984-5283 or visit www.katesomerville.com.