Secret Beauty Ingredient: Fermentation

Sable Yong
Secret Beauty Ingredient: Fermentation
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We often purchase beauty products because of the pull quotes on the front of the packages touting the seemingly impossible results. Unless you’re especially thorough, you skip the ingredients list on the back of the package – a crucial mistake made by many. “Secret Beauty Ingredient” is our way of finding those beauty ingredients that are becoming staples in the beauty world, or sometimes even better – beauty breakthroughs.

Okay, so maybe not so much an ingredient as a “process,” but trust us when we say that fermented natural ingredients (like yeast extract, algae, ginseng, black, and herbal tea, fruit extracts) have a supercharged element about them that gives them a boost in skincare—especially for evening skin tone, vanishing acne scars, wrinkle prevention, and overall texture improvement. Take kombucha for instance—the same fermented ingredients that yield highly concentrated antioxidants and enzymes that help your insides are able to provide similar benefits for your skin.

Charlotte Cho of Sokoglam explains the process: “Fermentation is a natural process in which yeast secretes enzymes that are beneficial to the human body. It takes some time, but with a bit of patience the product will naturally form amino acids, vitamins, and anti-oxidants thanks to the fermentation process.

Before you go splashing beer on your face, there are a bunch of brands offering fermented goodness without the suds. You’ll find Korean skincare beauty brands are at the forefront of utilizing fermentation to give you amazing skin, but mainstream Western brands are catching up. These products are best if you’re battling dry skin, want to fade acne scars or hyper pigmentation, or are jumping on board the anti-aging wagon.

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This hypoallergenic solid cleanser uses fermented Damask Rose extract along with a heap of other natural ingredients to gently lather away impurities, sans artificial preservatives or colors.

(SU:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, $34 at



The active ingredient in this sheet mask, Pitera, was discovered by way of traditional sake brewers whose hands were steeped in sake all day and maintained a surprisingly youthful appearance despite old age and wrinkled skin otherwise. Scientists have since isolated the yeast strain, Pitera, to incorporate it into SK-II's skincare line, arguabley one of the front runners of fermented skincare. These masks aren't cheap, but each one is sopping wet with a generous portion of Pitera and are fast becoming cult beauty items for their users' dewy youthful and clear skin.

(SK-II Facial Treatment Mask, $95 for 6 at

Missha is a Korean beauty brand and this is probably its most popular product, an essence (read: toner) that contains saccharomyces ferment filtrate—a yeast ferment that covers all your skin concerns with dullness, hyper pigmentation, dryness, rough texture, and overall clarity—truly a miracle elixir.

(Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence, $45 at

Fresh's Black Tea line uses kombucha (black tea ferment) super-packed with antioxidants and vitamins to energize your skin cells into soft and supple shape.

(Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask, $92 at

emerginC Scientific Organics Kombucha Cleanser combines fermented tea with algae, spirulina, green and white tea and aloe vera to thoroughly clean dirt and oil from your face while leaving it soft and moisturized.

(emerginC Scientific Organics Kombucha Cleanser, $34 at

The skin around your eyes is the most delicate on your face, so protect it with this kombucha eye gel that also incorporates hyaluronic acid for moisturizing and antioxidant-rich grape seed polyphenols, arnica, calendula, and chamomile to target dark circles and puffiness.

(Avalon Organics Lavender Luminosity Revitalizing Eye Gel, $21.99 at

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