Q&A: Kate Somerville, The "Guru of Glow"
Kate Somerville, The “guru of glow,” answers our Proustian beauty Qs
Hollywood facialist Kate Somerville understands how it feels to lack skin confidence. The Fresno, California, native played volleyball and ran track in her teens, enduring eczema flare-ups aggravated by the heat and sweat of exercise. “I always had these embarrassing patches,” she recalls. Motivated to help others tackle their skincare woes, she completed her aesthetics licence. When in-office lasering arrived on the beauty scene, she realized just how important her job was. “A lot of women couldn’t use [their usual] products—their skin was too sensitive post-treatment,” says Somerville. “That really pushed me to start developing my line.”
After a chance meeting with a compounding pharmacist at a dermatology conference, she began crafting her own skincare. A move to L.A. landed her a gig with a prominent plastic surgeon, where she made house calls to celeb clientele. Noted for boosting radiance, Somerville went on to open her own clinic on Melrose Place (her famous fans include Vanessa Hudgens and Elizabeth Olsen), and in 2006, retailers came knocking. She debuted her prestige dermocosmetic line on the U.S. shopping channel QVC, selling out the first time she went on air. The brand’s popularity caught the attention of Unilever, which acquired Kate Somerville in 2015. At her first-ever media event in Toronto, we asked the “guru of glow” to share her beauty wisdom.
What is your idea of perfect beauty? “Not feeling the need to cover up—just being natural.”
How do you look when you feel most like yourself? “My really curly hair is on top of my head, and I have flip-flops and a cute T-shirt on.”
If you could create a fragrance that encapsulated your personality, what would it smell like? “Spicy! Peonies with cayenne pepper. I love that delicate flower, even though it’s the opposite of me—I’m a Taurus.”
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received at a beauty counter? “To exfoliate. That really has made my skin look better than ever. I actually shave my face for exfoliation.”
Which one of your signature beauty techniques should every woman know? “It’s three steps: exfoliation, deep hydration with hyaluronic acid, and using the right moisturizer. If you follow these steps—and add retinol if you’re seeing signs of aging—you’ll have beautiful skin forever.”
Who do you admire as a living icon in the beauty world? “She’s no longer with us, but Audrey Hepburn.”
What is your biggest beauty extravagance? “I love massages and going to the spa, so it would be spending half a day there just being with my girlfriends.”
Kate Somerville’s Beauty Picks
What is your greatest beauty regret? “I tried to dye my hair grey. I went to a new hairdresser to have it bleached, and she burned my hair off.”
What is your anti-aging motto? “Do a little bit [of beauty maintenance] at all times. The biggest mistake people make is either waiting until it’s too late or doing something drastic.”
What do you deem a beauty crime? “Wearing too much makeup.”
What do you consider an underrated skincare commandment? “[Using] good old steam. Get your body in water—steam your skin and get that hydration back in.”
If you could change anything about the beauty industry, what would it be? “[I wish] it would focus on delivering formulas that actually work—too many products are created because an ingredient is considered trendy.”
This article was originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of Cosmetics magazine.