The Latest Korean Beauty Trend: Fermentation
The Japanese may have launched the first commercially marketed fermented product, SK-II’s signature facial treatment essence with Pitera (a natural yeast extract), but the Koreans have added fuel to the fire when it comes to fermented skincare. You’re not alone if the first thing that comes to mind is a face cream with a layer of patchy green mold that gives off a pungent sour sting like sharp blue cheese. I mean who pays good money to apply bacteria on their skin? Don’t be puzzled because the reality might surprise you.
The use of fermented ingredients in skincare is based from the idea that the process of fermentation, in an oxygen-free environment over a period of time, breaks down the molecular structure of ingredients, making them more concentrate and potent than their original form. Also, good bacteria (aka lacobacillus) holds off bad bacteria. Therefore, less preservatives are needed to keep the skincare product fresh with a just as long shelf life.
So, what exactly is fermentation? It is a metabolic process where carbohydrates and sugars are broken down and converted to enzymes and amino acids via the growth of good bacteria. This, in turn, prevents ingredient oxidization, preserves efficacy and allows easier and faster absorption of ingredients into the skin.
Korean skincare uses a lot of food-based ingredients that can be easily subjected to fermentation. Seaweed, green tea, black tea, bamboo, soya beans, gingko biloba and ginseng. Even flowers and herbs like hibiscus, chrysanthemum and dandelion. These ingredients are typically fermented for about one to three years, under specific conditions and temperatures, to produce active ingredients that are aimed to hydrate and brighten skin. Fermented natural ingredients like yeast extract, ginseng algae and fruit extracts are used for anti-aging, cell rejuvenation and improving skin tone.
In the end, fermented skincare ingredients are meant to leave you with a super-potent product with minimal preservatives. These ingredients are found in most Korean skincare products from toners, facial masks, serums and creams.
While Korean skincare are at the forefront of utilizing fermentation to achieve amazing skin results, Western and other Asian beauty brands are catching up. The next time you approach a beauty counter and see an interesting skincare product made from fermented ingredients, don’t squeal because it might just be good for your skin.
There is a huge growing number of Korean cult skincare brands like Goodal, Mizon, Cremorlab and Sulwhasoo that focuses on primarily fermented ingredients in their natural formulation; and they are now available in Singapore. These products are best used to combat specific skin issues such as dry skin, hyper pigmentation, aging and acne scars. Keep a look out as you might have found something new to transform your complexion.