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Fermentation - a Korean Beauty Ingredient


Walking around Seoul, I notice a lot of rice-based and makkule (traditional korean acoholic beverage)/sake-based skincare products that fly off shelves. What’s so special about these products? They use fermentation as a key part of the formulation.

The most recognizable brand in the US that hangs its hat on this is probably SK-II. “Pitera” is the key ingredient that they use (a term they coined) that uses a specific yeast strain first discovered in rice to prevent aging.

What is fermentation?

In short, it’s a natural, anaerobic process where organic compounds with enzymes (like carbohydrates) are turned into an acid or alcohol.

Fermented products include things like wine, cheese, yogurt, bread leavening (with yeast), and kimchi (staple korean side dish, delicious).

More about one of the most famous fermentation-sensation brands in skincare…

Well, SK-II’s entire yeast strain, Pitera, is an example of how fermentation is used in skincare. Their story is that these old men who worked in a sake brewery were constantly touching rice during the fermentation process in being turned into sake. And these men had incredibly supple, youthful hands. Therefore, after much research, they discovered the Pitera yeast strain and saw the incredible benefits of fermentation for skincare.

There are other amazing Asian brands using fermentation and Peach and Lily is a full supporter of this sensation.


(one of our favorite SK-II models)

Here’s why we love fermentation!

No preservatives are used because these will kill the good microbes (what’s needed in fermentation process) used in the products. Natural ingredients are also separated from bacteria. Bacteria is typically bad as it causes acne but also products to expire. Skincare products using fermentation typically have exceptionally long shelf lives because bacteria is separated out. Also, typically, deconstructed compounds in the anaerobic process creates small molecules that can more easily be absorbed by the skin (read: awesome).

Where can you find products that use this amazing process as part of the formulation?

It’s not just SK-II! Almost every Korean and Japanese brand will have a line that uses rice-wine based formulations. They fly off shelves out here for the sans-bacteria-and-preservatives benefits. Awesome stuff, and not all are as expensive as SK-II fortunately.

Hats off to this innovative beauty research!


Posted on July 04, 2015
by Alicia Yoon
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