I was living in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2006 and distinctly remember when every women’s magazine I picked up seemed to be hailing the new “guru of glow”, otherwise known as Kate Somerville. The Hollywood-based aesthetician had just launched a skincare line based on treatments she had developed for her celebrity clientele and I, like many others, was sold. I can’t remember what products I bought, but there’s just something about sharing the same soap as a celeb that makes it a must-have.
In the years since, other star-worthy brands have come and gone. But Kate Somerville remains synonymous with Hollywood’s most famous faces – Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba, Annette Bening, Kate Hudson, to name a few clients. And with the opening of her first counter at Lane Crawford this month (her second launch in Asia after South Korea), Hongkongers finally get to sample some of the magic.
“I certainly did not expect this brand to be global, honestly,” Somerville tells me after a press event at the Four Seasons, part of her whirlwind first visit to Hong Kong. “I’m a healer and an aesthetician, so that came first.”
Somerville, whose childhood struggles with eczema fuelled an interest in skincare, began her career working alongside doctors and plastic surgeons before opening Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts Clinic in 2004. Her first celebrity client? “Michael Jackson,” she recalls, “which was like, ‘whoa’, it was pretty intense.”
After a few years mixing and customising treatments on the spot, Somerville teamed up with chemists to create a hi-tech, results-oriented skincare line. The comprehensive collection now includes everything from acne treatments and anti-wrinkle creams to body lotions and self-tanning towelettes.
Somerville, while noting that everyone has different skin needs, shares a few must-haves for Hong Kong:
“Number one, make sure you’re turning those skin cells over, so that could mean retinols, enzyme peels or masks, or fruit acids,” she says. One of her first products, ExfoliKate  (HK$780), is now a cult favourite for its blend of micro beads and fruit enzymes that work to lift and dissolve dead skin cells. She advises massaging it into damp skin then leaving on for up to two minutes, depending on sensitivity, twice a week.
“For sure there are typical things that Asian men and women have: dry, sensitive skin that can pigment easily.” Somerville offers a range of hydrating serums, oils and creams, but her favourite is clearly the DermalQuench Liquid Lift  (HK$870), based on the most popular treatment at her clinic. The innovative spray delivers oxygen and hyaluronic acid deep into the skin, and should be used before other serums or creams. Bonus: Visitors to the Kate Somerville counter can receive a free oxygen treatment with the same machine used at her clinic.
3. Controlling pigmentation
“You can definitely see a difference in skin discoloration through using products,” says Somerville, while noting that laser and other treatments can take results to the next level. She suggests the LumiWhite Skin Tone Perfector  (HK$730) and Dark Spot Corrector  (HK$440), which are designed to treat various stages of skin discoloration.
“You need great protection, especially with pollution and the dust here,” Somerville concludes. “Protect while you’re out and really rid the toxins on the skin when you get home.” Among her three facial SPF products, Somerville recommends the IllumiKate CC Cream  (HK$440) with SPF 50+ to protect and correct the skin at the same time.
Somerville prides herself on having an independent, results-oriented line (“we are not a marketing company”, she insists) with products at every price point. While her top-of-the-line KateCeuticals Collection  tops out at HK$1,780 for an anti-ageing cream, most of the products are comparable to or cheaper than those from other luxury brands.
“I just think this is a perfect line for here because it’s light and you’re going to get results without a lot of fuss,” she says. “The packaging is easy to travel with, you can throw it in your gym bag. But the main thing is having a luxury brand at a cost people can afford. There’s something for everyone in the price point range.”
Kate Somerville is available at Lane Crawford’s IFC Mall (3102 1319) and Canton Road (3102 1919) locations. Browse the entire collection online at hk.katesomerville.com .