Fermented skincare may not be news to many, but this current Asian beauty obsession is more than just the latest skincare fad. Actually, fermented ingredients have been standard in Korean skincare for years, but are just recently receiving the attention they deserve. Fermented skincare has the ability to reduce inflammation, improve the skin’s barrier, build collagen and yes, even produce that coveted K-beauty glow.
So what exactly is fermentation? Fermentation is an ancient technique that’s been used for thousands of years, typically applied to food. Fermentation is a slow conversion process during which ingredients are broken down into smaller molecules. Good bacteria is allowed to grow, while harmful bacteria and toxins are naturally eliminated. Fermentation also preserves and actually increases the potency of ingredients. For example, a glass of wine contains loads more antioxidants than plain grapes thanks to fermentation.
So what does all this science mean for your skin? Well, because fermentation breaks down ingredients into smaller molecules, these ingredients are more easily and effectively absorbed into your skin. Some popular fermented ingredients include fermented botanicals (chrysanthemums and rose), fermented grains (rice) and fermented proteins (soy) all which can help soothe, brighten and hydrate skin. Plus, these fermented skincare ingredients are more nutrient-dense than others because additional antioxidants, amino acids and enzymes are created during fermentation.
Intrigued? Read on to learn more about what beauty experts and dermatologists have to say about fermented skincare, plus Ohlolly’s favorite fermented beauty products to perfect your Korean skincare routine.
MIRACLE ROSE CLEANSING STICK
Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick contains fermented rose flower extracts, notable for its calming and balancing properties. The refreshing deep-cleanse leaves your skin baby soft. With 90% natural ingredients, this cleanser is free from artificial colors, parabens, mineral oils and synthetic preservatives.
“Fermentation helps enhance the beneficial properties of natural extracts," says Dr. Craig Kraffert, a board-certified dermatologist of Redding Derm. "It also causes the breakdown of larger organic plant structures and complex molecules into smaller — and potentially more bioactive — molecules." [Refinery29.com Aug 29, 2015]
“Our skin is not our gut – it can’t breakdown whole ingredients into the individual vitamins or minerals – they have to be provided in a bioavailable form, and fermentation is one of the best ways to do this,” says Georgie Cleeve, founder of skincare brand Oskia. [Getthegloss.com Jun 19, 2015]
CLEAR SKIN PEELING SWAB
Easily exfoliate your skin with Clear Skin Peeling Swabs by It’s Skin. These oversized cotton swabs are formulated with AHA & BHA, lactic acid and lactobacillus/soybean ferment extract, which improve uneven skin tone, reduce dullness and prevent breakouts. No need to rinse off, just leave on this exfoliant to reveal glowing and clear skin.
Karen Ballou, CEO of Immunocologie, a new American skincare company also tapping into fermentation technology, agrees. “By fermenting key ingredients, we actually enhance the effectiveness of the active ingredients that are loaded in the product. Most un-fermented skincare is created by heating up a blended formula to a high temperature and then cooling it down, which can potentially lower the effectiveness of the plant active.” [Refinery29.com Apr 15, 2014]
TIME REVOLUTION THE FIRST TREATMENT ESSENCE
Missha’s highly concentrated essential essence is the first step for clear and glowing skin. The mild formula has a low viscosity to increase the rate of absorption on the skin. This essence provides soothing, hydrating, brightening and wrinkle repairing benefits. Contains 80% fermented yeast concentrate, a naturally fortified vitamin B, which increase the rate of metabolism to maintain healthy and firm skin.
According to both Dr. Kraffert and Mary Schook, licensed aesthetician and founder of M.S. Apothecary, fermented ingredients are often loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients and can provide a calming and brightening effect to the skin. Schook notes that many fermented ingredients are known for promoting healthy bacteria growth on the skin, while simultaneously eliminating bad bacteria. And she also adds that since most fermented ingredients are acidic, “they help to naturally exfoliate dead cells, allowing product to penetrate deeper." [Refinery29.com Aug 29, 2015]
“Not only does fermentation make the nutrients more concentrated and easily absorbed, it can also produce additional skin-loving amino acids and antioxidants,” says Laura Filancia, Education Director at Sulwhasoo. [Refinery29.com Apr 15, 2014]
DOUBLE BRIGHT INTENSE SERUM
Goodal’s Double Bright Intense Serum is a concentrated serum with ingredients sourced from nature to restore a radiant and even complexion. A special complex of eight natural plant extracts promotes clarity while reducing hyperpigmentation. Highly-concentrated serum is infused with fermented white peony extract for added brightening power. Milky serum penetrates deep into skin for a silky glow.
“The idea is that fermentation naturally produces enzymes and amino acids that speed up skin-cell turnover," says Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a dermatologist based in Boston. [Allure Magazine Jul 28, 2015]
TIME REVOLUTION NIGHT REPAIR SCIENCE ACTIVATOR AMPOULE
The star ingredient in this Night Repair Ampoule is bifida ferment lysate, a probiotic that strengthens the skin’s barrier. This ampoule also contains vitamin B12 for healthier skin, and saccharomyces ferment filtrate for its antioxidant properties and moisturizing effects.
“Fermented cosmetics are more symbiotic with the skin,” says Ballou. “It mimics the skin’s cell functions and supports the skin without disrupting its natural process, so it’s less likely to cause sensitivity...Fermented active ingredients provide a sort of protection for the skin and strengthen the skin’s metabolism to make it stronger and healthier.” [Refinery29.com Apr 15, 2014]
THE TRUE CREAM MOISTURIZING BOMB
Formulated with fermented ingredients, including album (Mistletoe) ferment extract and lactobacillus/soybean ferment extract, True Cream Moisturizing Bomb is a comforting moisture cream that provides the skin with intense, soothing hydration. Clinically tested to provide up to 26 hours of moisture, this uniquely indulgent formula leaves skin soft, supple, and deeply moisturized.
“What these products are attempting to do is rebalance the bacterial ecosystem of the skin,” says facialist Kristina Holey. [The Wall Street Journal Jan. 22, 2016]
MILD PROTECT WATERY SUN CREAM (SPF 50+ PA+++)
The fermented prickly pear is full of vitamins that keep skin healthy and the flaxseed forms protective barrier to keep moisture in. With its velvety texture, easy absorption, and 50 SPF, Mild Protect Watery Sun Cream is perfect for everyday sun protection. This sunscreen protects against harmful UVA/UVB rays, while aloe and okra retain moisture.
Can’t get enough? Check out these other Ohlolly beauty products that contain skin-loving fermented ingredients.