Serum Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50+
2 fl. oz. for $45
Last Updated:12.18.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

This in-part avobenzone sunscreen is not a serum. Rather, it’s a lightweight, thin-textured lotion that spreads easily on skin and leaves a soft matte finish. The formula is fragrance-free and contains some notable antioxidants though it would better if they were present in greater amounts. Still, this is an excellent option for those with normal to oily skin seeking a sunscreen with a higher SPF rating for longer days in the sun (though keep in mind that reapplication is essential to maintain protection).

One caution: when a sunscreen costs this much, you have to consider whether you’ll be as likely to apply it liberally as you would with a less expensive option. Liberal application is necessary to get the stated level of protection on the label.


This mild, antioxidant-rich sunscreen is free of oils, parabens, and alcohol. This formula was made with innovative technology which gives high-level protection against burning UVB radiation and aging UVA rays. This serum is mild, quick-drying and non-whitening.


Active: Homosalate, (10%), Oxybenzone (6%), Octysalate (5%), Avobenzone (3%), Octocrylene (2%) Other: Water, Butylene Glycol, PEG-8, Polyethylene, Silica, Dimethicone, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Titanium Dioxide, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Kaolin, Picea Abies Extract, Sodium Polyacrylate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Ethyhexylglycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Bentonite, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin

Brand Overview

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

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Best sunscreen

I have tried drugstore sunscreens but they always tend to break me out or leave a greasy shine on my combination skin. I decided to splurge on this sunscreen after seeing Paula's Choice review on this product. I have recommended this product to everyone who has complimented my skin. Unfortunately I can no longer find this product online. Has it been discontinued?

Reviewed by
kelly, h
Beautypedia Team Response

Hello, and thanks for your question! It looks as though this is still featured on Kate Somerville's website; however it appears the shopping option is not available. This could just be because the product is out of stock, though we'll check to see if it has been discontinued!

—Paula's Choice research Team
Makes My Skin Glow; Not in a Good Way

Although this product gives my face great protection from the sun, it absolutely creates a very visible greasy film on my already oily skin. When I apply this in the morning, after washing my face, my skin absolutely glows; and not in a good way. When any liquid foundation (I've tried multiple formulas) is applied on top, the foundation separates like a drop of liquid soap in oil. When I apply a powder foundation, the powder is absorbed by the sunscreen in a matter of mere minutes.

Reviewed by
Barbara C.
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