Today I bring to you, the most exciting collaboration and post by my personal favorite Renee, the gorgeous person behind @Gothamista! Renee is the beaming ray of positivity, light and sunshine with a wealth of Korean beauty knowledge that I rely on and refer to time and again. Surely you want me to stop my gushing over Renee and how incredibly thankful I’m for her to agree to do this for HHW blog. Hope you all enjoy the read, and enjoy the shopping after the read ;).
Just like so many of my favourite skincare innovations, the fermented skincare movement started in Japan. You may be familiar with the clever ‘story’ of how a chance encounter of cosmetic scientists and elderly sake brewers with extraordinarily youthful hands were the origins of what would eventually take the world of skincare by storm. SKII scientists, made a connection between the child-hands and the yeast they were in constant contact with during the fermentation process, then focused their powers on finding that special strain. Years later, they introduced the world to ‘Pitera’, the fermented yeast essence and that extra step that’s been missing in our skincare routines.
Fermented ingredients have since spread beyond essences, and into other product categories as well as all other markets. If there was any doubt, there is clearly a growing demand for more of this anti-aging wonder. The Korean skincare market has been the most dynamic in developing products incorporating this process, and the response is huge. Infact, there are entire brands devoted to fermented ingredients such as Su:m37, Sulwhasoo, Goodal, Primary Raw, to mention just a few. Not only are they using fermented yeast, which is a very rich source of vitamin B, this process has been used on other plant ingredients to boost their potency. Since Korean skincare has already mainly been using food-based ingredients in their products, which easily lends itself to fermentation, this was an organic transition. Some Western brands (Estee Lauder, Fresh, Origins) have also been using probiotics and fermented ingredients in their formulas and more are being introduced to capture a piece of this rapidly developing market. This is still a relatively new thing and research into it’s effects are still developing though there are definitive studies that the potency and efficacy of ingredients are increased through fermentation as well as antioxidant activity. But regardless of what anyone says, the proof is in that elusive natural glow!
Personally, I’ve been using products with fermented ingredients for a while now, which I strongly believe have made a difference in the quality of my skin and seriously, I rarely find products to be transformative. Particularly for my skin which (for now) isn’t in need of drastic repair. But a couple of months ago, in preparation for a Youtube video I was doing on the subject, I went really hardcore for over a month. Meaning, almost every product of every step of my routine was about these ferments. I first noticed my skin changing from being dry and sensitive to actually, normal. Then it happened, the stuff you see on infomercials. I’m at risk of sounding like a paid testimonial, but people started commenting on the ‘glowiness’ of my skin, strangers even. Infact, it apparently showed in my subsequent videos as people commented there too. Science be damned, you can’t argue with glow, man. The kind that comes before radiant primers, foundation and highlighters.
This is beneficial for all skin types particularly dehydrated, sensitive or skin needing repair. But certain ingredients, which happen to be my favourites, are particularly effective for anti-aging, hydration and brightening. These include, yeast extracts, ginseng, rice, soy or natto, green/black tea and certain flowers and herbs. These ingredients go through a natural fermentation process that occurs in an oxygen-free environment, which over a long period of time will cause the yeast and carbohydrates to produce enzymes and eventually form amino acids, anti-oxidants and vitamins. So, what exactly are the claims and why do we need fermentation in our skincare?
- The process increases potency, creating supercharged ingredients that are loaded with anti oxidants, vitamins and anti-inflammatories.
- Causes the breakdown larger molecules into smaller ones which makes for deeper absorption providing more effective nourishment. This is also gentler and less irritating on sensitive skin. Essences potent with fermented yeast have been known to help reduce redness.
- Creates natural acidity in ingredients which, helps our skin’s acid mantle. This is important for a strong and healthy moisture barrier.
- Natural preservative so synthetic preservatives are not as required.
- The actives in fermented yeast are rich in vitamin B and peptides as well as boost our skin’s ability to naturally produce hyaluron, which helps prevent transepidermal water loss.
So, enough of my babble. Here are some of my most loved products with my favourite fermented superstars, for each step of the routine:
Botanic Farm Grain Ferment Cleansing Sherbert
This is one of the most powerful oil-based cleansing balms I’ve ever used. This is a natural brand that uses no parabens or mineral oils and has a coconut oil derivative base. Formulated with one of my favourite ingredients, Saccharomyces Rice Bran Ferment from Sake as well as Soybean ferment extract. This will melt down all your toughest waterproof makeup and stains upon contact.
Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick
My ride or die. The concept of this brand is built entirely on natural fermented skincare. “Su:m” is the Korean word for breathe, while “37” is the optimal fermentation temperature. Their products are also free of synthetic preservatives. Their lab and facilities are located in the middle of nowhere, where the water and air is completely unpolluted by neighboring commercial facilities. They have a whole seasonal process of gathering plants and the technology and science they use to get the best out of every ingredient is other level stellar-ness. This contains Saccharomyces and fermented Damask Rose as well as luxurious plant oils such as Camellia, Green tea seed, Apricot and Olive. This is a foaming, second step cleanser that has a low pH of 5.5 so will not strip your skin or harm your precious, little acid mantle.
Not to seem dramatic, but this toner affects me on an emotional as well as cellular level. I get slightly euphoric. Not bad considering skincare routines are often a chore. Whamisa is another brand that focuses on natural fermentation to augment and preserve the potency of certain star ingredients. I find fermented toners particularly effective because right after subjecting our skin to cleansing, the smaller particles and potent ingredients are so good at calming inflammation and delivering lost nutrition to our skin quickly and without irritation. The better absorption also makes way for oncoming products to work their magic. This toner is viscous and richly hydrating, replenishing anything that might have been lost and gives the skin some instant volume. This is a waterless toner which purely uses aloe as a base and contains fermented Chrysanthemum flower, Galactomyces ferment filtrate, fermented Dandelion Root and Oat Kernal extracts to soothe, deeply hydrate and nourish the skin. 97% of the ingredients are certified organic, free of parabens, synthetic dyes or fragrances.
This was a surprise. Though I started out using the SKII Facial Treatment Essence, I ended up preferring this formula. Truthfully, I did not want to. I refused to try this for a long time because I did not appreciate how boldly this product was ‘duping’ the SKII essence down to the name. Curiosity and a big sale finally got the better of me and, what can I say, my skin wants what it wants. The difference in ingredients leaves my skin feeling more hydrated and the glow, the fabulous glow! While SKII uses 90% Galactomyces ferment filtrate (Pitera), Missha’s essence uses 80% Saccharomyces ferment filtrate (Zyosis). This also has Sodium Hyaluronate, Niacinamide and Root extracts. I’ve even come to love the slightly sour scent. But as far as all the other high percentage, fermented SKII copycat yeast essences go, I have yet to try one that my skin prefers to this.
My favourite essence, my…my preciousss. This is a very special potion made up of Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces and 80 very carefully selected plant extracts which are fermented for 365 days. All these plants have various antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and nourishing properties. I feel like I’m spoiling myself every time I pat this into my skin as it’s refined, luxurious, and the price reflects it. But the skin will never feel better. This is watery thin, hydrating, sinks into the skin super quickly leaving no residue but really soft, smooth, hydrated skin that looks bright and vibrant.
Innisfree Fermented Soybean Energy Essence
The second essence I ever purchased and countless essences later, I still love this. This has 91% fermented Jeju soybean. In a world of cosmetics where everything is diluted with water, these products with such graciously high percentages of key ingredients are bottled blessings. Few products leave my skin feeling as soft and plump as this. This original formula is amazing for dry/dehydrated skin people or during the winter months, otherwise there is a ‘light’ version available for those with oilier skin or prefer a lighter formula.
Manyo Factory Galactomyces
A more budget-friendly, but no less effective brand devoted to this process. Manyo Factory is an organic brand that uses botanicals and natural preservatives. I would venture to say that during my staunch, “Fermented or bust,” phase, this might have made the difference. Fast absorbing, with a nice slip to the watery texture, this formulation that doesn’t have the typical sour scent, has a simple, 7 ingredient list. 97% Galactomyces ferment filtrate, 2% Niacinamide and droplets a few other plant extracts including Sodium Hyaluronate.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum
A serum that has over the years, become the quintessential elixir for anti-aging. The key actives here are the same probiotics found in yogurt, Bifida Ferment Lysate and Lactobacillus Ferment. The latter is particularly effective as a skin softener. This overnight serum has left my skin feeling hydrated, less red and volumized with fewer fine lines visible and a youthful bounciness to it. Their Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, which holds half an entire bottle of the serum’s active ingredients, is probably the most powerful sheet masks I’ve used. Overnight, this transformed my skin, revitalized it and the hydration was off the charts.
An ampoule can either be used before serum or in the case of this product, in lieu of. This ampoule will outshine any serum out there so there’s no point in bothering. In addition to being less than half the price of the Estee Lauder ANR serum, this one has a far more impressive ingredients list. This formula also contains probiotics Bifida Ferment Lysate and Lactobacillus Ferment, but additionally has Lactococcus Ferment to soothe and strengthen sensitive skin. There is also a good amount of Niacinamide, Retinol and a very long list of skin loving plant extracts and oils many of them fermented. This ampoule is a powerhouse and anyone concerned with anti-aging should consider using this.
The Goodal, ‘Waterest’ line of products is focused not just on fermentation, but double fermentation of their ingredients and they’ve managed to create a new concept oil in their uber popular ‘Water Oil’ products. This is the ultimate non oily, fermented oil blend for anyone like myself who love the idea of oils on our skin but really dislike the greasy and invasive way it feels. This has all the benefits of oil products, but is fast absorbing, skin softening, deeply hydrating and an all around pleasant skincare experience. This is categorized as a ‘booster serum’ (Korean products and their confusing categories and names), which probably means one should use this before serum. Since the consistency is very light and quite watery, I’ve often used this right after toner before essence. Honestly, one could use this at any step between toner and moisturizer, it’s such a versatile product that absorbs so beautifully and LASTS!
This contains a blend of 7 fermented moisturizing seed oils that are packed with antioxidants: Sunflower seed oil, Jojoba, Camellia, Green Tea Seed, Argan, Olive and Macadamia nut. These oils are micronized to absorb fast into the skin and sink deeper to nourish from deeper within and then sealed in with a bio gum complex for lasting results. I can personally attest that my chronically dehydrated skin stays moisturized throughout the day with this when usually it gets drier. But there’s more, this formula contains Bifida Ferment Lysate, Niacinamide and Licorice Extract for brightening, Aloe and Sodium hyaluronate for hydration and a wonderful trio of Ceramide, Cholesterol and Lecithin similar to our skin’s own natural composition which penetrates better into our skin and strengthens the barrier. This is for all skin-types, particularly if you have dull, dehydrated skin. You are welcome.
Goodal Water Oil Firming Camellia
This is the latest addition to the growing Water Oil family of products and I must mention it. This is more targeted towards anti-aging concerns which, I have. The first 2 ingredients listed are Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate and micro fermented Camellia Flower extract which has shown to be great for boosting collagen production in the skin. This also contains Camellia oil which is rich in antioxidants and has one of the highest percentages of Omega 9 oleic fatty acids than any other natural oil. This is great for keeping the skin moisturized and youthful as it’s heavier and richer in composition making it so luxurious. What sends this over the top for me is the intoxicating, light floral scent. I don’t usually like added fragrances but this is sensory bliss. I wonder if this is what Camellia flowers smell like, if so, I want to be surrounded by them. Just like the original, this delivers deep and lasting moisturization without the grease.
Benton Fermentation Eye Cream
I was waiting patiently for an eye cream like this to come out. One that is formulated with similar high concentrations of fermented ingredients that I apply on the rest of my face. This is a wonderful, light, silky eye cream that glides over delicate skin and absorbs quickly. I really love the unique texture. There is the same sort of silky slip that the essences have that doesn’t come from oil or silicones. This formulation contains all safe, non-irritating ingredients, the first 2 of which combine the yeasts Galactomyces ferment filtrate and Bifida ferment lysate. There are also ceramides, EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor), plant oils and wonderful humectants. Perfect for crow’s feet control!
For those who want or need some extra help with that fragile eye area, this serum is is a powerful anti-aging fighter. The “Shaba Complex” is a concentrated dose of Saccharomyces Black Tea Ferment and copper peptides combined to effectively fight signs of aging before they begin, or stop things before they get out of hand. Black Tea Ferment is meant to be effective at preventing glycation which is supposedly where the sugar in your bloodstream can affect the proteins in our skin, like collagen and elastin. Copper peptides are great for promoting those proteins. Other notable key ingredients include antioxidants Edelweiss Stem Cells, Ubiquinone, Niacinamide, Sodium Hyaluronate and my favourite, Sea Buckthorn Oil. The texture is light, fast absorbing, and disappears almost completely, this creates no interference with other products you might be layering over including eye cream and makeup. I use this over my entire mobile lid.
Primary Raw DoYou Soy Milk Cream
The star of this brand is the Fermented Soy Bean which has become one of my favourite ingredients as it’s particularly effective at hydrating the skin and fighting the signs of aging. Everything about this product is delightful, from the packaging to formula. This is a waterless formula which is always a huge benefit since I know there is no dilution of ingredients and I’m getting the most for what I’m paying. As well as the Soybean Ferment Filtrate, there is also Soybean extract, Aloe, Rice bran water, Niacinamide, Snail secretion, Green Tea leaf extract, Beta-glucan, Copper peptides, so, so many other fabulous fermented extracts. This cream is refreshingly lightweight and milky while being deeply moisturizing without greasiness or stickiness. Mildly scented, this will leave your skin feeling silky and hydrated. Great for all skin types.
SK-II R.N.A Power Radical New Age Cream
There are very few moisturizers I’ve come across that can create a glow comparable to this luxury cream from SK-II. Their R.N.A Power Radical New Age Cream is one of their best-sellers for a reason. Once you experience the radiance, you will cling on with a death-grip. The RNA line is formulated to target the 10 visible signs of aging and is good for any skin type experiencing or wishing to prevent further signs of aging. This is a silky cream that is creamy but not heavy. The texture is velvet-smooth and great for layering. Good for any skin type that has anti-aging concerns and want to address fine lines, firmness, dullness and dryness. This also contains Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate as a third ingredient as well as Niacinamide. This pretty much made a noticeable difference on me after a few days of use. My travel-depleted, dull, tired skin brightened right up and there is never a need for luminous primers with this.
Fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask
“Overnight” would accurately describe the success of this mask when it first launched. Their proprietary “Black Tea Complex” uses Black Tea Ferment and Black Tea Extract to super boost the antioxidant power along with Blackberry leaf and Lychee seed extracts to firm and smooth the skin. As an overnight mask, this is the final layer and step of an evening skincare routine. One that I leave until right before I go to bed. This is not invasively heavy or occlusive whereby most of the mask ends up absorbed by the cotton fibers of your pillow, or to the extent that all your hair is stuck to your face. By morning, the entire mask would have absorbed into your skin leaving it noticeably smooth, soft and for some people, firmer. This is a weekly treatment which after regular use will leave skin looking more refreshed and plump.
Goodal Waterest Vital Sleeping Pack
One of my favourite sleeping packs at a mere fraction of the price. Like the rest of the products in the Waterest Line, the main ingredient here is double-fermented lotus flower. The formula uses every part of the plant including the flower, seeds, leaves and roots to deliver and lock moisture into the skin. Which is what it does very, very well. After using this for the first time, I have never touched my Laneige Water Sleeping pack since. This also contains Sage Leaf extract, Hyaluronic acid and fermented Pumpkin extract which is a naturally derived AHA. The texture of this is perfect for all skin types as it is a soothing gel texture that is refreshing but deeply hydrating. This is neither oily, heavy or occlusive. This absorbs, works on your skin overnight and leaves you with soft, volumized, hydrated skin after rinsing the next morning.
Favourite sheet mask. This hydro gel mask is itself made of skin benefitting ingredients such as Aloe vera and Kiwi extract. This is soaked in a bottle of serum, one of the purest formulas I’ve ever seen so I don’t want to waste even a gooey drop. I tend to smear the excess serum in the package on my face first before applying the mask. The formula is 95% organic ingredients and mostly fermentented fruit extracts such as Tomato, Apple, Kiwi, Banana and Licorice root extract. There are no parabens, silicones, fillers, mineral oils, synthetic dyes or fragrances. There is an intoxicating scent that comes from the small amounts of Lavender and citrus oil that will relax and comfort the soul. This will nourish and rehydrate depleted skin as well as brighten the complexion. I can keep one of these on my face for about 45 mins sometimes even an hour without it drying out. The mask is cooling and soothing on the skin the entire time and when you peel this off, brighter, smoother, plumper, hydrated and refreshed skin is revealed. The results are wondrous and lasting.
Manyo Factory Active Refresh Herb Peeling Gel
Having had sensitive skin most of my life that stung and would turn red from a breeze blowing on my face, I still cringe at the thought of abrasive, physical exfoliators. I love my gommage peeling gels and if you also prefer something gentler, you might love this one. The exfoliation you get from this comes from natural enzymes mainly Papain (Papaya extract) and is insanely satisfying. You basically massage this on your skin and very quickly, fibers from the ingredients mix with your own dead surface skin cells, dirt, sebum and ball up creating a peeling effect. After rinsing off, my skin has never felt more soft and smooth. The presence of rice bran powder helps with that super smooth, skin surface texture. To nourish the skin, this contains fermented Pea Root Extract along with many other botanicals such as Buckwheat, Broccoli and Green tea extracts. There is also Hyaluronic acid to keep the skin hydrated as you exfoliate. This was clinically tested and is hypoallergenic for those with sensitive skin.
Ofcourse, everyone’s skin is different. The same miracle ingredients for me could cause someone else to break out into a pox. I don’t see this ‘trend’ dying down anytime soon. I certainly won’t be quitting my beloved ferments, if anything, I am trying to fit more into my routine as I’m a firm believer of how too much of a good thing…can be wonderful.
by @Gothamista aka Renee