The SK-II Facial Treatment Essence has seen more than 20 million bottles sold to date. With impressive sales like these, you must be wondering what’s so special about this facial essence. The secret seems to be PITERA, the trademarked ingredient developed by SK-II scientists that promises to deliver results such as brighter skin, smooth texture, and a more youthful, radiant complexion. With the SK standing for ‘Secret Key’, is SK-II’s proprietary ingredient PITERA really the secret key to beautiful skin? Read on to find out!
What is Pitera?
PITERA, also known as galactomyces ferment filtrate, is a yeast extract derived from a strictly controlled natural fermentation process. It is a clear liquid that contains over 50 micronutrients and is an excellent source of peptides, proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, and organic acids. The combination of these nutrients is said to provide powerful anti-aging and hydrating properties, which we will discuss in more detail below.
From sake to skin care
It’s worth mentioning the fascinating way that PITERA was discovered. Back in the 1970s, SK-II scientists began searching for natural ingredients that would “make beautiful skin a reality for every woman.” The scientists researched numerous possibilities, from Chinese herbs to hot spring water. However, the ideal ingredient still eluded them. One day, SK-II scientists found themselves in a sake brewery in Japan where they noticed that while the elderly workers had wrinkled faces, they had extraordinarily soft and youthful-looking hands. This discovery inspired a thorough search that involved over 350 kinds of yeast. After five years, the researchers finally found the unique yeast strain that held the secret to beautiful skin – PITERA. Found throughout the line of SK-II products, PITERA has been called the brand’s “miracle ingredient”.
How does PITERA benefit the skin?
As mentioned above, PITERA is a rich source of amino acids, peptides, proteins, carbohydrates, organic acids, and many micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. The combination of these nutrients is said to improve the skin’s natural surface rejuvenation process. Let’s discuss each of these in further detail so you’ll know exactly how PITERA benefits the skin.
The amino acids, peptides, sugars, organic acids, and minerals in PITERA all contribute to replenishing the skin’s Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). The NMF is responsible for keeping the skin hydrated, soft, and supple. Unfortunately, the NMF can become depleted with age, and also from routine exposure to sensitizing ingredients like drying surfactants, synthetic fragrances, and denatured alcohol. This leads to visibly dry, flaky skin that feels tight and uncomfortable. By using ingredients that help to replenish the NMF, such as PITERA, signs of aging such as lines, wrinkles, and dry skin, will be reduced. The result is skin that appears more smooth, hydrated, and firm.
While the proteins and carbohydrates found in PITERA are too large to penetrate the skin, they can add hydration to the top layers of skin when applied. Additionally, some research suggests that the PITERA yeast can increase the production of hyaluronic acid, a component found in the skin’s extracellular matrix. Hyaluronic acid has the ability to draw in water from the environment and hold on up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Hyaluronic acid’s ability to draw in and hold this moisture is what helps skin retain its turgor, resilience, and flexibility. Since the body produces less and less hyaluronic acid with age, utilizing methods that increase hyaluronic acid production is an innovative way to address signs of skin aging.
PITERA also functions to soothe the skin with its anti-irritant properties. Fermented ingredients reduce the risk of skin irritation by neutralizing toxic substances, such as heavy metals and pesticides that may be present in trace amounts. By neutralizing toxins, PITERA makes the product safer, more effective, and better tolerated for sensitive skin types.
The final way that PITERA benefits the skin is by facilitating the absorption of other skin care ingredients. The benefits of fermented ingredients like PITERA in skin care are similar to the benefits provided by fermented foods and digestive enzyme supplements, which aid in the absorption and digestion of the nutrients you consume. In skin care products, microorganisms like bacteria or yeast release enzymes that break down other ingredients into smaller molecules. Active ingredients in skin care products are often too large to penetrate deeply into the skin, so by breaking them down into smaller molecules, PITERA facilitates the absorption of these ingredients. Better absorption leads to better results.
Who should use PITERA, and who should avoid it?
SK-II products that contain PITERA can be used by all skin types. It is ideal for those with signs of aging, dull complexion, dark spots, or rough texture. Since PITERA can be mildly exfoliating due to the organic acids, you may want to avoid products with this ingredient if you are using strong exfoliants or ingredients that cause your skin to peel, such as alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, or benzoyl peroxide.
The best SK-II products with PITERA
While PITERA is used throughout the line of SK-II products, we have picked out the best products that contain the brand’s signature ingredient.
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
The Facial Treatment Essence is SK-II’s signature product and highly awarded bestseller with over 90% PITERA. This essence has a lightweight, watery texture that absorbs quickly into the skin and is said to increase brightness, prevent the formation of dark spots, reduce wrinkles, smooth texture, and promote more supple skin.
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion
The Facial Treatment Clear Lotion is SK-II’s best-selling face toner that is said to help remove stubborn impurities from your skin and prepare it for the rest of your regimen. It is formulated with PITERA and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to improve the appearance of dullness and uneven skin tone.
SK-II R.N.A POWER Cream
The R.N.A POWER Cream is the brand’s best-selling anti-aging cream that is said to restore skin suppleness and elasticity with intense hydration. It contains a nourishing anti-aging complex of PITERA with hydrolyzed soy and yeast extracts to lock in moisture, making skin firm and radiant from within.