SK-II Review - The Dermatology Review

SK-II Review



If you’re not already familiar with SK-II, there are arguably two things this Japanese skincare company is best known for. Its cult favorite Facial Treatment Essence, and its 2016 documentary video that went viral. The four minute long “Marriage Market Takeover” features interviews with single Chinese women and explores the societal pressures they face. The documentary, which has been viewed more than 2.7 million times, is part of the company’s global #changedestiny campaign, to shift the focus away from stigma and towards female empowerment. Videos and essences aside, SK-II is one of the best known Japanese skincare brands, along with Shiseido and Hado Labo. Here’s a closer look at SK-II, its products, and is it worth a try?

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2021?

What Is SK-II?

SK-II is a luxury Japanese skincare company that debuted in December 1980s. Pronounced “s-kay-two,” the company is built around the ingredient pitera. According to company lore, SK-II scientists were searching for a key skincare ingredient when they noticed that the hands of elderly workers in a Japanese sake brewery looked extraordinarily soft and youthful. Since their hands were in constant contact with the fermented yeast, this encouraged them to look deeper into the fermentation process. After years of research the scientists created pitera, a naturally derived liquid from the yeast fermentation process that is found in every SK-II product. Proctor & Gamble acquired the brand in 1991, and an SK-II product line for men was launched in October 2011.

What is the SK-II Philosophy?

SK-II says it takes a holistic approach to skincare, based on skin type, skin concerns as well as lifestyle. Beyond the ingredients, Sk-II is also known for its innovative marketing campaigns. SK-II has also created lighthearted ads such as the 2019 “Pitera Masterclass” featuring John Legend, James Corden, Naomi Watanabe and Tang Wei. The company’s Change Destiny campaign includes the docuseries Timelines, where US journalist Katie Couric travels to the U.S., Japan, China and South Korea and speaks to young women about societal pressures, including marriage and cultural expectations.

What Does SK-II Sell?

The SK-II product line includes serums, essence, masks and creams. Here’s a breakdown.

SK-II Serums
SK-II GenOptics Aura Essence Serum – This best-selling serum is formulated to help make the skin feel smoother and softer, prevent dark spots and improve radiance.

SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Serum – The Ultimate Revival Serum contains a high concentration of pitera as well as peptides to help hydrate and brighten the appearance of the skin.

SK-II Creams
SK-II R.N.A.POWER Radical New Age Cream – An Allure Best of Beauty winner, this anti-aging cream can be used twice daily. Packed with pitera, shea butter and niacinamide, it is meant to deliver hydration blast and lock in moisture, while reducing the appearance of fine lines.

SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream – This rich, creamy moisturizer is designed for all skin types, and is formulated with pitera and niacinamide.  The Ultimate Revival Cream helps give skin a little extra glow and leaves skin feeling softer.

SK-II Masks
SK-II Facial Treatment Mask – Another beauty editor and makeup artist favorite, the SK-II sheet mask is designed to hydrate the skin and improve radiance.

SK-II Brightening Derm Revival Mask – Sold in packs of 10, this sheet mask is infused with a gel serum that is meant to help deliver moisture to the skin, while reducing the appearance of dark spots.

Sk-II Essence
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (Pitera Essence) – Each bottle contains 90% pitera, and SK-II says that a bottle of it is sold every two seconds. The essence is designed to help reduce the appearance of dark spots, and brighten the skin while also making it feel soft.

SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Essence – This liquid essence is formulated with the highest concentration of pitera, glycerin as well as centella essence, derived from the tropical tiger grass. The Ultimate Revival Essence helps moisturize the skin and leave it feeling smoother and softer.

SK-II Cleansers
SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil- This 2 in 1 product doubles as a facial cleanser as well as a makeup remover. About three to four pumps of the product should be used, and gently massaged into the face before rinsing off.

SK-II Facial Treatment Cleanser – The key ingredients in this foaming facial cleanser are the brand’s signature pitera as well as willow bark extract, which contains exfoliating salicylic acid to help whisk away dry, dead skin cells.

How Much Do SK-II Products Cost?

Sk-II is a prestige brand, and its products are priced accordingly. A 2.5 ounce bottle of Essence retails for $99 and a six pack of the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask is $95. The SK-II R.N.A.POWER Radical New Age Cream is $235 for a 2.7 ounce jar. One of the priciest products is the SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream, for $385.

Is SK-II Cruelty Free?

Sk-II is owned by Proctor & Gamble, and according to the company, “We do not test our products on animals anywhere in the world unless required by law, and we are working hard to make animal testing of all consumer products obsolete.”

What Ingredients Are in SK-II?

The signature ingredient in all SK-II products is pitera, which the company says contains minerals, amino acids, vitamins and organic acids to help remove dead skin cells. Other ingredients include vitamin B3 derived niacinamide; ume extract from a Japanese plum; and centella extract, which comes from a tropical plant. The R.N.A.POWER Radical New Age Cream also contains RNArchitect Complex, which contains hydrolyzed soy and yeast extracts. Other more commonly used skincare ingredients include glycerin, a humectant; capric triglyceride (usually made from a coconut oil and glycerin combination), shea butter and jojoba seed oil.

Where Can I Buy SK-II?

SK-II products are available on the company’s website, Sephora, Net-a-Porter and Amazon as well as department stores including Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.

Does SK-II Work?

It’s always tempting to try a cult favorite product (or brand) – but beauty and skincare is never a one size fits all approach. One person’s hero product may do nothing for you, so a little experimentation and a dive into reviews is always helpful.    

SK-II has been around for decades and received plenty of press write ups. The Essence is a firm favorite, scooping awards from New Beauty in 2017; a Byrdie Readers’ Choice Award in 2018; a Nylon Beauty Hit List in 2017 and an Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner in 2019. Other products have received write ups in Vogue, Marie Claire, Yahoo Beauty, and celebrities ranging from Victoria Beckham to Kate Bosworth have voiced their love for the brand.

Allure magazine gave the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask a Best of Beauty Award in 2006 and 2007, noting “There’s a reason Allure editors and celebrities rave about this mask: It truly changes your skin, if only temporarily, after wearing it for ten minutes. Yes, you’ll look like Jason Voorhees while wearing it, but afterward, your face will be thoroughly moisturized and glowing. The Best of Beauty winner is perfect for blasting away signs of jet lag.”

 The Facial Treatment Mask is one of the most reviewed SK-II products on Influenster, with a 4.4 out of 5 star rating from more than 3,000 reviews. Satisfied customers say that they love it and it’s worth every penny, like this user who wrote “My all the time favorite… can’t get any better than this” and “An amazing mask. The best I ever tried.”  Several Influenster reviewers complained about the high price, and some people who gave it a low rating thought it was overrated, like Izzy S.- “I think this line of skincare is actually extremely overrated and therefore over-priced. This product works just as well as the sheet masks I purchase at the Daiso which come with 7 masks for $1.50!”

On Influenster, the Facial Treatment Essence has been reviewed around 3,700 times, with a 4.3 out of 5 star rating. Some users wrote they were disappointed with the cult favorite product, like Katherine Y.- “I really wanted to love this product since it is so hyped up but it is useless. It just gives a yeasty scent to my skin. Definitely a waste of money.” Many customers noted the high price of the product – but the people who called the Essence a “holy grail” were happy to absorb the cost. Julia D. called it “MIRACLE WATER…If I have nothing else in my skin care routine it will always be this. Shrunk my pores in like a week after years of me trying everything, reduced acne scars and redness, cleared my face of the little bumps I had. Amazing.”

One of the brand’s priciest products, the Ultimate Revival Cream, gets a 4.4 out of 5 star rating on Sephora, based on 57 reviews. Fans love the rich cream as well as the packaging, like this fan who wrote “This is a luxury product in every way.” Some people thought the cream was too heavy, especially for those who live in humid areas.  “I thought that this would be just the thing, but it’s greasy, really greasy. It takes so long to absorb into the skin I can only use it as a night time cream.”

What Are Some Alternatives to SK-II Moisturizing Cream?

Although SK-II has legions of fans, it may not work for everyone. Perhaps the products did nothing for your skin or the high prices are a turn off. There are a few other brands to consider.

Formulyst’s philosophy is long-term and effective skincare. The brand wants to help its customers achieve their best looking skin. Formulyst’s Pro-Collagen Serum is formulated for aging skin and contains a potent mix of peptides and proteins.  Gently pat a few drops of this hydrating serum on the face to help to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

For hydrated and dewy looking skin, try Formulyst Super Hyaluronic Water Moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid helps keep skin plumped, hydrated and dewy looking. This oil free formula is packed with multiple types of hyaluronic acid and it works as a moisture magnet by drawing water to the skin.

Fans of skincare kits, which take all the guesswork out of creating your own regimen, should try Advanced Dermatology. This no nonsense brand offers a pared down approach to skincare. The packaging is simple and streamlined, and the products bring skincare back to the basics. The kit contains just six essential items including a daily cleanser; serum; anti-wrinkle firming treatment; night cream; day cream and an eye cream. In other words, everything you need to achieve your best possible looking skin.

There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that is effective and safe. Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the power of plants with cutting edge science. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals as well as the preservatives, emulsifiers and thickeners commonly found in skincare products.




The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.Read More

Carrot & Stick

Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare. What does this mean? It perfectly balances the power of plants with innovative science, offering the best of both worlds.Read More

Advanced Dermatology

The Advanced Dermatology skin care regimen addresses the most pressing aging concerns.Read More

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence Review

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...

Sk II Genoptics Aura Essence Review

SK II Genoptics Aura Essence is a lightweight brightening serum that is said to absorb quickly to improve dullness and help reduce dark spots caused by sun damage for even, glowing skin. The key ingredient in this serum is GenOptics Aura Complex, a skin brightening complex containing PITERA, Demelano P3C, and prunus extract. PITERA, also known as galactomyces ferment filtrate, is SK II’s signature ingredient. It is a yeast extract derived from a strictly controlled natural fermentation process, resulting in a clear liquid that contains over 50 micronutrients. It 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.

SK II Genoptics Aura Essence also contains a high concentration of niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that plays a vital role in cellular metabolism. Niacinamide also has the ability to repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling. Lastly, SK II Genoptics Aura Essence features ume extract, a Japanese plum extract with antioxidant and anti-glycation properties. It also helps prevent the appearance of dullness.


Sk II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion Review

SK II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion Toner is a hydrating toner that is said to help remove stubborn impurities to reveal your skin’s true radiance and prepare it for the rest of your regimen. This toner contains SK II’s signature ingredient PITERA, also known as galactomyces ferment filtrate, which is a yeast extract derived from a strictly controlled natural fermentation process. PITERA 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.

SK II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion Toner also contains two alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): lactic acid and malic acid. AHAs exfoliate the skin by targeting corneocytes (dead skin cells that make up the top layers of skin) in a process called corneocyte desquamation. By enhancing their breakdown and increasing the separation of skin cells, the rate of cell turnover is increased, leading to smoother, brighter skin. Lastly, SK II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion Toner includes sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of hyaluronic acid. Sodium hyaluronate is an exceptional ingredient for adding hydration to the skin. It draws in moisture from the environment and can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Sodium hyaluronate may also help to plump the skin and temporarily reduce signs of aging.


SK II Essential Power Rich Cream Review

SK II has become famous around the globe for their cult favorite product, the First Treatment Essence. But what you may not know about the brand is that they actually have an entire line devoted to the active ingredient behind this incredibly popular best seller, including products like the SK II Essential Power Rich Cream. Like the First Treatment Essence, this product contains Pitera, the iconic, active blend behind the brand, features a combination of essential nutrients which help to encourage healthy skin processes. This ingredient also helps to rejuvenate the skin and eliminate signs of stress, dullness and even fine lines and wrinkles. In addition to the active ingredients within this formula, the Essential Power Rich Cream also includes a blend of humectants, emollients and occlusives which work together to hydrate and nourish dry, dehydrated skin while also reinforcing the skin’s natural moisture barrier.


SK II Overnight Miracle Mask Review

If you’re looking for a super quick skin pick me up, you may want to look out for the SK II Overnight Miracle Mask. These little pods may look unassuming, but the pack quite a punch. This formula contains the power of pitera and sleeping tree extract to combat signs of fatigue so that you wake up with energized, radiant and clear skin. Pitera is the star ingredient for many, if not all of the SK II hero products. This fermented rice water helps to smooth and soften the skin and is rich in vitamins, organic acids, minerals, and amino acids. The idea behind this product is to use one, simple, all in one treatment to repair the damage that stress, late nights and environmental damage can cause. To get the most out of this product, the brand recommend that you simply cleanse the skin to remove any dirt, debri and left over makeup, and then apply the Overnight Miracle Mask. And that’s it! The mask will do the work of a serum, a moisturizer and a mask in one, travel friendly product. Because of this, we’d recommend this product for those of you who are looking for an instant pick up me product for late nights or long flights.


SK-II Power Cream Review

The SK-II Power Cream was designed to act as a potent, anti-aging moisturizer that features some of the same star ingredients that SK-II is known for. The main actives in this formula include Pitera, chlorella extract and the RNArchitect complex. Pitera is the iconic ingredient that has been used in cult favorite products like the First Treatment Essence. This form of rice extract has been fermented in order to boost the ingredients efficacy. Rice is an excellent brightening and soothing ingredient that has been used for centuries in skincare. In addition to Pitera the RNArchitect complex uses soy and yeast proteins which help to boost firmness as well as radiance. Finally, chlorella extract offers a range of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals that help to protect and nourish the skin while also boosting the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

SK-II R.N.A. POWER Eye Cream Review

SK-II has gained cult status with their iconic First Treatment Essence, but this brand actually offers so much more than just this product. The SK-II R.N.A Power Eye Cream, for example, is a potent eye cream that features the same hero ingredient that you’ll find in the First Treatment Essence. Pitera is, in it’s most simple form, a fermented rice extract. Rice water has been used for centuries for soothing and brightening the complexion. But by fermenting this ingredient, SK-II has been able to increase the potency of rice in order to deliver more noticeable results in a shorter amount of time. In addition to this ingredient, the Power Eye Cream also features the Radical New Age Complex. This complex contains hydrolyzed soy and yeast proteins which help to boost firmness around the eye area. This product, as well as many others in the SK-II product line have won over 347 beauty arounds around the world for their innovative formulas and dramatic results.


SK-II Facial Treatment Mask Review

SK-II Facial Treatment Mask Review: Product Overview and Ingredient Information The SK-II Facial Treatment Mask is designed to offer its users relief from dry, dull skin. This product, which is sold by SK-II, a Procter and Gamble company, is a cotton mask that rests over the contours of the face and allows the skin to absorb the vitamins, minerals, and hydrating ingredients that it contains. The SK-II Facial Treatment Mask can be purchased directly from the company website, from other online skin care and cosmetics retailers. These masks are individually wrapped and come in packs of six or ten for a price that varies from $90-125. Because the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask is an expensive item to add to your beauty budget, you should understand its effects on the skin and what kind of results you can expect versus the ones you want to achieve, and read SK-II Mask reviews before deciding on a purchase.

How to Use SK-II Facial Treatment Mask

You should apply your SK-II Facial Treatment Mask to clean, dry skin. Try and avoid touching the serum contained on the mask before application to keep it sterile. Apply the mask firmly to your face and leave it on for up to fifteen minutes. You should not leave the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask on for longer than 30 minutes, as the serum may dry out on the sheet and not remain on your skin when you pull it away. Once you remove the sheet, do not rinse your face. If any extra serum from the SK-II Mask is visible on the skin, gently wipe it away with a moist cloth. Be sure that you follow all directions on the product package to avoid any unpleasant side effects or accidentally over-drying skin.


No comments yet

Your Review
User Rating: 0.0 (0 votes)

Recommended Articles

The Best Skincare Products of 2021

Uncategorized read more

Best Skin Care Routine

Uncategorized read more