SKIN CARE 101 : Fermented Ingredients, Extracts & Products 🍶🥖🍚
I love ingredients! While every healthy skincare regimen must comprise proven, tried-and-true ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, mineral sunscreens, moisturizing oils and even retinol, stepping up your game means expanding your knowledge about what's good for your skin (and what isn't!). That's how you transform your complexion from compromised to clear to crystal. It's how you achieve what the Koreans refer to as yuri pibu or "glass skin". That's the holy grail of skin care! Read more about how to achieve "glass skin" here.
Skin is like the rest of our bodies: it needs nourishment.
Skin-replenishing ingredients like non-fragrant plant oils, amino acids and peptides are essential to feeding skin the nourishment it craves. Be sure to incorporate a well-formulated nourishing oil as the last step in your skincare regimen. The Ordinary's "B" Oil is an excellent formula loaded with non-fragrant plant oils like Squalane, Jojoba Oil, Borage Oil — even new-to-the-scene Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, an elegant emollient plant oil derived from the seeds of the Ethiopian Crambe Abyssinica plant. I want to pour that into a dish, toss in some finishing salt, and dip fresh-baked Italian bread into it!
Speaking of bread (which is made from yeast!), I'm obsessed with fermented ingredients lately — and skincare products formulated with fermented ingredients. But first, what is fermentation? The word "fermentation" derives from the Latin word fervere, meaning "to boil" — as the Romans equated the bubbling and foaming of fermented beverages like beer and wine with boiling. And we know the Romans loved their wine! According to the California-based Soy Info Center, the process of fermentation is described as "the chemical transformation of organic substances into simpler compounds by the action of enzymes, complex organic catalysts, which are produced by microorganisms such as molds, yeasts, or bacteria."
The peoples of Ancient Rome and the earliest Chinese dynasties recognized the health benefits of fermented foods and beverages for nourishing the body and mind. But what about fermentation in facial skin care? What's been trending feverishly in South Korea of late has made its way west as fans of natural skin care seek out ingredients that are both potent and free of harmful synthetics. Just as grapes turn to wine and cabbage to kimchi, the fermentation process renders skincare ingredients more concentrated and readily absorbable — and thus, more effective.
It's no surprise that entire skincare brands have been created around the concept of fermentation with serums, essences, cleansers and moisturizers formulated using fermented extracts. It's not new; it's just hot now. Japanese beauty brand SK-II may be the most well-known brand to fully embrace fermentation. Its claim to fame is what SK-II calls "pitera," which is nothing more than a savvy marketing term for a fermented sake water that appears in the ingredient list as galactomyces ferment filtrate. Its $179 Facial Treatment Essence is made with 90% galactomyces ferment filtrate. It's just yeast! And it's $179 for just over five ounces. About 6 months ago, I researched it and found a superb alternative from the tiny, cultish K-Beauty brand Benton, made from the identical fermented yeast.
Formulated with several fermented ingredients in addition to the coveted Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, the Benton Fermentation Essence is a translucent silky essence that absorbs into skin almost immediately. I love using it immediately following my cleansing and toning step. With a high concentration of fermented extracts, ceramides and even hyaluronic acid, it's the galactomyces ferment filtrate that nourishes the skin and brightens the complexion. I have to give credit to this essence for moving me towards that coveted glass skin goal.
The Ingredient list of the Benton Fermentation Essence
Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, Aqua (Water), Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Ceramide NP, Althaea Rosea Root Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Betaine, Panthenol, Allantoin, Sodium Hyaluronate, sh-Oligopeptide-1, Zanthoxylum, Piperitum Fruit Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Adenosine, Arginine, Xanthan Gum, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Polysorbate 20, Lecithin
The breakout K-beauty brand Whamisa, curated by my friends at Glow Recipe, is built around a superb collection of fermented skincare products. My absolute fave cleansing water atm is the Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Water — a silky blend of naturally fermented botanical extracts, brightening licorice extract, and soothing organic aloe water. It's packed with fermented flower extracts that soothe and nourish the skin. Cleansing with this water is a next-level spa-like experience. It's just that luxurious and lavishing. Yet, as pampering as it feels, it's also quick and easy — like a cleansing water should be. And, it's super nourishing for your skin, helping you achieve a glass skin effect.
The Ingredient list of the Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Water:
Aloe Maculate Leaf Extract, Diglycerin, Glycerin, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Alcohol, Lactobacillus/Chrysanthemum Sinese Flower Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus/Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus/Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion) Rhizome/Root Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus/Aloe Maculata Leaf/Molasses Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Betaine, Beta-Glucan, Mannitol, Levulinic Acid, Sodium Levulinate, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil (Certified Organically Grown Natural Preservative/ Bergamot Oil Bergaptene Free)
I love discovering new, niche products on IG! And this obscure brand came outta nowhere. The Manyo Factory Galactomyces Niacin Special Treatment Essence looks like it was developed in a lab, they slapped a label on it, and sent it to me. (Okay, that’s all a fantasy in my head.) And while I got sucked in by the clinical packaging, I went for it because I love the formulation itself. The Galactomyces Niacin essence is simply an excellent formula. Infused with the galactomyces fermented yeast, it's kind of bold to name the product "galactomyces"! According to Manyo Factory, their form of it contains vitamins as well as skin-loving calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and folic acid. Galactomyces is the first ingredient in a very tightly formulated serum, comprising just seven ingredients in all. Second is super-brightener niacinamide, or vitamin B3. No joke, you can't possible achieve glass skin without niacinamide. The Galactomyces Niacin Special Treatment Essence formula contains a naturally fermented preservative system that apparently has the potential to irritate already sensitive skin. I have experienced no sensitivity, though I do not tend toward sensitive skin. Last is Sodium Hyaluronate, the salt form of hyaluronic acid that is even more skin-compatible. I love the texture and the purity of the formula.
Fermented skin care is here to stay. Have a look and consider incorporating one or two fermented products into your daily regimen. Remember, skin needs food. It needs nourishment. And fermentation is a healthy, effective way to achieve that. The Romans were onto something.