Beauty Food & Drink Interviews

Kate Somerville, Skincare Maven on Surviving Winter, Her Beauty Regimen and What’s in Her Morning Smoothie

‘Tis the season for mulled wine, cozy slippers, long books and drying out like a prune. Even in our native Northwest with all its recent rain, we can’t get away from the skin irritation, dryness and breakouts that come like clockwork with December. So when we heard Kate Somerville, skincare expert for more than 20 years and industry pioneer, was going to be in Seattle, we couldn’t let her leave without asking a few survival questions and gleaning year-round skin-saving insight.

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Winter is here and with it holiday travels. For those of us traveling to (or stuck for good in) harsher climates, how can we defend our skin?
Airplanes are so brutal. They just suck every bit of hydration out of you. Try not to wear makeup if it’s a long flight. I really recommend taking the Dermal Quench on your flight, along with the moisturizer that’s right for your skin. If you have a lot of oils, you’ll want to go oil-free. If you have normal skin, use our Age Arrest. Nordstrom is also launching our KateCeuticals line soon, which is really geared for dry skin and mature skin. The moisturizer is Multi-Active Revive. When you get back from wherever you’re going, steam your face. Take a wet washcloth as hot as you can handle and place it over your skin for about five minutes. Or put it over your face in the bath and really allow your skin to steam.

We just launched the take-home version of your immensely popular Dermal Quench Treatment that used to be available in stores only. For those unfamiliar, what is Dermal Quench?
It’s coined after a treatment that I found in the medical community—a machine that pushes a special serum into the skin with oxygen. Why is it so special? Oxygen is basically the catalyst for the product to reach deeper into the skin. Pure oxygen kills bacteria. You’re also invigorating your skin by pumping it with a serum made with hyaluronic acid, which is natural in our skin but depletes as we age. It helps with dryness and breakouts. It’s one of those treatments where you see instant results and the more you use, the better you get.

What’s the difference between the in-store treatment and take-home version?
The great thing with the at-home version is that you get better results because you get to do it every day. Before, it was a treatment in my clinic and someone would come in once every two weeks or every month or before an event, and it would only last so long. Now you can really build the hydration. It’s great for any skin type, and men love this product because it’s oil-free and fragrance-free—well, I think it has a little bit of lavender actually, but very, very little. And it’s paraben-free, of course.

Our food, mood and lifestyle impact our skin. Great skincare products aside, what should we be doing/eating (or not doing/eating) to keep our skin at its best this season?
Honestly, the more greens you eat, the better your skin is going to be—you get more chlorophyll, you detoxify more. I know it’s hard to do. I usually do it with greens in my smoothie in the morning. Drink a lot of water. If you drink coffee, try to drink lemon water before because it alkalizes your body and coffee is really acidic. I got this cold-brew coffee system from Nordstrom at the Ebar called the Toddy. The coffee is 80% less acidic and so good. I just buy Peet’s, dump a whole pound in and let it sit for 24 hours. I wish they would make it prettier, because it sits on your counter…but I swear by it!

And, for me personally, I recently went through a couple of deaths and, previously, a divorce. Both times my skin got so bad. When you’re stressed or sad your whole body reacts, your skin reacts. It’s our largest organ. When I’m really stressed, I try to go to nature. Being in nature, whether going to the beach or taking a hike, makes things easier to handle. That’s what I tell my clients. I just got back from being in the High Sierras with a backpack and no phone. We were up there for five days. I have a son who is 13 and just getting him unhooked was perfect.

What’s in your morning smoothie?
I do half a lemon, spinach and a green apple (because I have to have something sweet). Sometimes I do kale, but I have to say, sometimes kale upsets my stomach. Lately, I haven’t been using it. Then, I do a scoop of powder that has all the green algae—spirulina, chlorella, all of those things. I mix it all with a probiotic instead of yogurt. It really helps my eczema.

What is the Kate Somerville Active Balance Technology philosophy?
Every single product you’re going to see from Kate Somerville has multiple purposes. When we say active balance we’re putting something active in, like Vitamin A, but we’re balancing it with either a botanical or something soothing so you don’t get irritated. For example, Dermal Quench is for hydration, but it also has Vitamin A. What happens when you use retinol? You get dry, you get irritated. So when I formulate, I give love to skin—hydrate, moisturize—but then I give you the active ingredient that actually works.

Are there any ingredients currently popular that you absolutely would never put on your skin?
This is my honest opinion: there are so many companies out there that are marketing to you that don’t know skin. They’re like, this has 24-karat gold in it. I’m like, what the heck does 24-karat gold do?! It just hits your pocket book. You wear 24-karat gold. You don’t put it on your face. There is so much out there that’s confusing. People are skeptical now, and they should be. I’m a clinician first. We do this every day in our clinic. We understand skin. We know what works. When you come to the clinic I know what’s going to change your skin, and I’m going to put you on the path to get you to where you want to go.

Tell us about your skincare regimen.
This is kind of a secret, but we’re coming out with this new wash in the Goat Milk line. I used to be a die-hard Gentle Daily Wash girl, but I have to say I have now moved off of that, which I can’t believe. That’s coming soon to Nordstrom. I use it morning and night—it takes off my makeup and it’s sulphate-free. Then, ExfoliKate twice a week. I do things on different days depending on what’s happening with my skin. I do Dermal Quench and use Deep Tissue Repair religiously. I like to mix up my serums, but my favorite by far is Restor8, which Nordstrom is getting soon. It has every single anti-aging ingredient that works in it.

Shop: Kate Somerville

—Katie Joy Blanksma