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Product Reviews

Kate Somerville 24 Hour Pimple Punisher

Kate Somerville 24 Hour Pimple Punisher. [$28 for 0.5 oz (0.25 oz each)] 

This product consists of two parts.

The first part is the gel that you apply during the AM.

Positives: It contains glycerin, willow bark, oleanolic acid, and almond glycerides, which will serve to soothe and moisturize the skin. The tea tree oil, a known acne-fighter, does not have a concentration attached to it. The study showing that tea tree oil has any positive effect, was done with 5% tea tree oil. So whether or not the TTO in this product will function correctly, is unknown.

Neutrals: The touted “SymPeptide 380” is listed as Myristoyl Hexapeptide-23, which has zero studies performed on PubMed. Yeah, zero. And even if the peptide actually worked the way Kate says it does, it still wouldn’t be very promising because peptides function by regulating specific areas of protein synthesis. And in order to see physical change, peptides require long periods of time. So an acne spot will most likely clear up before this peptide even begins to have any effect at all. The two other ingredients, hydroxyphenyl propamidobenzoic acid and nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), are also unknown in different ways. The former has no listing on PubMed at all, which suggests that no study has ever been done involving this particular chemical. The latter however, has many studies on PubMed. Most of them are about how NDGA functions internally, and it’s quite stellar in this particular aspect. There are also several studies that suggest that NDGA is a powerful antioxidant and has anticarcinogenic properties when applied topically. In addition, it has a very promising role in tissue engineering because it’s capable of cross-linking collagen. However, there is nothing about how NGDA clears up acne. It’s tissue engineering aspects don’t translate to the faster healing of acne breakouts because collagen is in the dermis, and this Kate product won’t penetrate that deeply.

Negatives: None, thankfully.

The second part is a thick clay that you apply during the PM.

Positives: The PM part contains again glycerin, willow bark, oleanolic acid, and almond glycerides as well as allantoin and bisabolol to further soothe and hydrate the skin. It also contains a tiny amount of vitamin E. The other relevant ingredients here are kaolin, bentonite, and montmorillonite, which are forms of clay that will dry the surface of the skin. Clays work well for more superficial acne conditions like blackheads and whiteheads. However, deeper and larger conditions like papules, pustules, and cysts, are not affected by clay in a positive way because they form in the deeper layers of the skin. The clay will only serve to dry out and irritate the latter three forms of acne, which can result in even worse breakouts. Again, tea tree oil is present, and the review is the same as for the AM product.

Neutrals: The salt form of salicylic acid is present (tridecyl salicylate). However it has to first be converted to salicylic acid before it can exfoliate properly. Now, since the pH is unknown, we cannot know if the salt version will actually be converted to salicylic acid. Furthermore, even if the pH is in the correct range, the conversion rate is not even close to 100% because salicylic acid is a weak acid. Kate claims that this product contains 2% salicylic acid. So if only 2% of tridecyl salicylate is present, a significantly lower amount of salicylic acid (if in the correct pH) will be made. However, if more is present and 2% salicylic is actually made, than this would be an excellent product. However, from experience, most clay-like vehicular bases, are not made to maintain the low pH levels necessary for salicylic acid to function. Finally, bakuchiol, an analog of resveratrol (a known antioxidant), is present in low amounts. Bakuchiol has demonstrated positive effects internally. However, no studies have been done demonstrating any effects when applied topically. Without the proper evidence, we can’t assume that it will function like resveratrol, because closely-related chemicals don’t necessarily function similarly. Think of benzene and hydroquinone. This also contains the same ingredient NDGA as the AM product, and therefore, the same review applies.

Negatives: None, again! Yay!

Packaging: At least these products are packaged in tubes, which is a good thing since the PM product  contains a little vitamin E. Also, the packaging will protect the peptide in AM product from deteriorating quickly, though, it doesn’t really matter since there are no studies that demonstrate its alleged benefits. Still, if there turns out to be some benefit to it, the packaging will protect the peptide.

Overall: I would not recommend this Kate Somerville product as a whole, to anyone because its components do not contain known ingredients, other than tea tree oil (which is in an unknown quantity), that have proven track records for effectively treating acne. Its other “effective” ingredients like myristoyl hexapeptide-23, NGDA, and tridecyl salicylate have different unknown qualities that will most likely translate to this being an ineffective duo of products.

Despite the forms of clay present in the PM product, which will be more effective for those with mild superficial acne, I still would not recommend this product for even them because the AM product would be just dead weight. However, if the PM product can be purchased separately, I would recommend it for people with milder forms of acne that haven’t responded to benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid or if they simply would like an alternative form of treatment. If you are still truly convinced that both products will be your life-savers, make sure to get samples from your local Sephora before making a purchase.


AM: PS = [[[PIS – 0] x WIC] + [TPS x WPC]] x 100%

PS = [[6/10 x 2/3] + [3/3 x 1/3]] x 100%

PS = [12/30 + 3/9] x 100%

PS = [36/90 + 30/90] x 100%

PS = 66/90 x 100%

PS = .733 x 100%

PS = 73.3%

AS = C

PM: PS = [[[PIS – 0] x WIC] + [TPS x WPC]] x 100%

PS = [[7/10 x 2/3] + [3/3 x 1/3]] x 100%

PS = [14/30 + 3/9] x 100%

PS = [42/90 + 30/90] x 100%

PS = 72/90 x 100%

PS = .800 x 100%

PS = 80.0%

AS = B-

Check the Product Review Rubric for a full explanation on how I rate products.


AM: Water, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Myristoyl Hexapeptide-23, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Extract, Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Dimethicone, PEG-6 Almond Glycerides, Caprylyl Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Oleanolic Acid, Aminomethyl Propanol, Disodium EDTA, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.

PM: Water, Kaolin, DI C12-13 Alkyl Malate, Glycerin, Bentonite, Tridecyl Salicylate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Titanium Dioxide, Montmorillonite, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Extract, Bakuchiol, Allantoin, Bisabolol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dimethicone, Oleanolic Acid, PEG-6 Almond Glycerides, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Steareth-10, Steareth-20, Butylene Glycol, Aminomethyl Propanol, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Decylene Glycol, Disodium EDT.

About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


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