SK-II is a Japanese brand of luxury skin care products that has an interesting beginning. Back in the 1970s, SK-II scientists began searching for natural ingredients that would “make beautiful skin a reality for every woman.” After researching numerous possibilities, the ideal ingredient still eluded them. It was only by chance that SK-II scientists eventually 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. Finally, the researchers 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”. This review will cover how PITERA works in one of the brand’s most popular products, the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence.
What is it?
A typical skin care routine consists of a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sometimes specific treatments like serums and eye creams. Facial essences, however, are a new addition to skin care routines, at least over here in the West. In fact, essences have been a staple in Korean beauty for many years now.
So what exactly is an essence? It’s a lightweight, hydrating liquid that is used after cleansing to help prepare skin for moisturizer. While an essence might sound similar to a toner, they both have different functions. According to Elle, a toner is used to remove last traces of cleanser and is essentially water, enhanced with essential oils and often alcohol for quick drying. A facial essence may feel slightly more creamy compared to toner and contains higher levels of active ingredients, designed to penetrate deeper into the skin. Thus, the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is formulated with a high concentration (90%) of the active ingredient PITERA in order to make dark spots less visible, reduce appearance of wrinkles, improve skin texture and firmness, and promote radiance.
Who is it for?
The SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is recommended for all skin types. It is ideal for those seeking anti-aging treatments as the PITERA found in this product is said to reduce multiple signs of aging. However, if you have sensitive skin, there are several preservatives in this product that may cause dryness or irritation.
One of the best aspects of the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is the minimal formula. The entire formula consists of only six ingredients (in addition to water).
The key ingredient in the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is PITERA. Also known as galactomyces ferment filtrate, PITERA is a form of yeast that contains over 50 micronutrients and is an excellent source of peptides, proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids. 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 synthesizes less and less hyaluronic acid as we age, utilizing methods that increase hyaluronic acid production is an innovative way to address signs of skin aging.
Unfortunately, PITERA is the only beneficial ingredient in the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. Two of the other ingredients in this essence are butylene glycol and pentylene glycol, which are both derived from petroleum. These two ingredients have several functions, including acting as a solvent to help other ingredients dissolve, as a viscosity-decreasing agent (to thin the final product so it’s easier to use), and as a conditioning agent. However, they can cause skin dryness and irritation since they are organic alcohols.
The final three ingredients found in this essence are sodium benzoate, methylparaben, and sorbic acid, all which are preservatives. If you are concerned about preservatives in skin care products, then the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence may not be a good choice for you.
How to use
To use the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, start by pouring about two to three shakes (approx. the size of a quarter) of essence into hand. Press palms together to wet both hands. Gently smooth and press over your face and neck for one minute, ensuring even coverage. Continue patting the essence into skin until fully absorbed. The SK-II Facial Treatment Essence should be used twice daily after toner, but before serum.
Out of 94 customer reviews on the brand’s website, the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence has received an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Those who love this essence say they notice results like decreased pore size, improved texture and tone, faded dark spots, and better oil control. Some reviewers who gave this product a poor rating say that it did not work for them. It appears as though results vary with this product, but overall it has received a positive response.
In sum, the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence can be a luxurious addition to your skin care regimen that preps your skin for moisturizer and also works to reduce multiple signs of aging with the brand’s proprietary ingredient PITERA.
What are Some Alternatives to SK-II Skincare?
If you’re looking for skincare products to address the signs of aging, we recommend Carrot & Stick. Carrot & Stick maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in advanced skincare solutions that help promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin. We recommend this serum.