Kate Middleton's Skin Care: Fit for a Princess?

Skin Care

I remember being a little girl, watching my normally level-headed mother get starstruck over Princess Diana.

Mo-om,” I’d protest, “how can you admire someone you’ve never even met so much?”

I tended not to like activities without a point throughout my childhood and teenage years, so I never really got it back then.  (Books about science?  Acceptable.  People magazine?  Not so much.)  Then I wised up in my early twenties, realized the enjoyment sometimes is the point, of the activity if not it all (deep thoughts there)…Then, lo and behold, along came the graceful yet down-to-earth, classy yet friendly-seeming Kate Middleton.  And whaddaya know, now I’m a big fan of a princess too.  (I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree!)

According to the latest issue of People magazine, Kate is a devotee of the international brand Karin Herzog Skin Care.   A down-to-earth gal who reportedly does her own hair and make-up for events, Kate also seems to keep her skin care fairly reasonable, with no product in the line priced above £54.50 (about $89.00 U.S.).


One of the most popular items in the line is the Karin Herzog Oxygen Chamomile Face Cream ($50.00, Amazon.com).  Unfortunately, there seems to be a bit of pseudoscience behind this product, as the Karin Herzog “Why Oxygen?” page reports some erroneous facts, such that “90% of diseases are caused by bacteria sitting on skin” and “energy depletion is caused by a continual drop in oxygen pressure within the skin as we age”.  In truth, skin aging is a complex process, largely attributable to a mix of environmental factors, the most substantial of these being cumulative ultraviolet light exposure, as well as natural chronological aging processes, such as telomere shortening in DNA, irregular pigment production, decreased collagen and glycosaminoglycan production, etc.   [For you science buffs who wish to learn more, an excellent article on the topic of skin aging is available from Archives of Dermatology here.]

Further, oxygen applied topically to the skin is often completely ineffectual, as Mount Sinai Medical Center dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur, M.D. tells ShareCare.com:

“Although I’m sure that oxygen facial makes your skin glowing and radiant; the effect has nothing to do with oxygen. The machine used for this facial treatment has a hose-like attachment that discharges pressurized oxygen along with a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum. The moisturizing mist is what plumps the skin and makes it temporarily look and feel dewy. The use of oxygen cosmetically claims to have a wound-healing effect on the skin. This may stem from the fact that hyperbaric oxygen treatment has been proven to help heal wounds, but placing a patient in a hyperbaric chamber to increase the amount of oxygen in the lungs, which in turn delivers it through the blood to injured tissue, is not the same as having air and water sprayed onto your face. It is impossible to infuse skin cells with oxygen from the outside. It cannot purify or moisturize the skin, although too much oxygen has been known to generate toxic oxygen radicals that damage skin. “

As Dr. Marmur mentions, some believe that topical application of oxygen may harm the skin.  This is because oxygen, a gas, cannot be directly added to a moisturizer, so it is added as a peroxide.  Unfortunately, hydrogen peroxide has actually been found to increase potentially damaging oxidative reactions in the skin.  In fact, Melbourne Dermatology reports that reactions occur in up to 10% of cases, though I cannot find how they obtained this number.


Another popular product in the Karin Herzog line is the Vita-A-Kombi ($52.00, Amazon.com).  The product also features 1% “oxygen” (as hydrogen peroxide), but fares slightly better, due to its inclusion of vitamin E and retinol.  I still wouldn’t recommend the product to any of my friends, due to the hydrogen peroxide as well as the fact that the product contains a very small amount of retinol.  From its positioning on the ingredients list as last, my best guess would be that the product contains 0.025-0.050% retinol, and even drugstore brands typically feature the ingredient in concentrations around 0.025% unless otherwise specified.

Bottom Line: The Karin Herzog Skin Care line has international presence and unique, innovative technologies (i.e., oxygenated skin care, anti-aging chocolate therapy).  Unfortunately, despite its popularity, some of the claims do not have scientific backing, and a few, such as hydrogen peroxide, may even be a bit damaging to the skin.  In Jim Kramer Mad Money terms, I’d call this line a “hold,” if not a “sell.”  However, the brand has a strong presence, and I have a feeling they may do a turnaround and debut some truly effective products in the next couple of years.   I’ll keep my eye out and let you know!  In the meantime, I’ll be turning my attention to school and, of course, Kate’s wedding dress…(Alexander McQueen?  Diane von Furstenberg?!)  🙂

Have a royal skin care recommendation?  Let us know in Comments below!

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