Fermented skincare is more than just a passing fad in K-Beauty - it’s a tradition! If you’ve been curious about the hows or whys behind the use of fermented ingredients in Korean skincare, then you won’t want to miss this episode.
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With a history stretching back to the Joseon Dynasty, fermented ingredients have been used in Korean skincare forhundreds of years. Known for their ability to target everything from inflammation to a weak skin barrier, fermented ingredients are in some of K-Beauty’s best loved products.
Fermentation is a process during which ingredients are broken down into smaller molecules. Think of it as a series of reactions that convert sugars to other substances (i.e. grapes to wine, one of our favs!) Fermentation is also the process behind Korea’s staple food, kimchi (which is a type of fermented cabbage).
Because fermentation breaks ingredients into smaller molecules, the skin is able to more easily and effectively absorb them. Popular K-Beauty ferments include fruits, herbs, rose flowers and yeast.
Fermented skincare offers several benefits:
That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of other ingredients out there that function similarly to ferments, but some ingredients do have more powerful benefits when fermented compared to their unfermented counterparts. Since fermentation in Korean foods is such an important part of the Korean culture and diet, it makes sense that many brands turned their hands to fermenting skincare ingredients too.
Bifida ferment lysate - a gut bacteria that strengthens the immune system, reduces sensitivity and helps the skin repair itself.
Fermented rice water - to promote a radiant and bright complexion. Rice water is rich in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins, which boosts cell regeneration and keeps skin bright and smooth.
Pitera - a probiotic that helps to rejuvenate, clarify and smoothen skin.
Galactomyces - a fungus that helps reduce blackheads, sebum, dead skin cells and acne while minimizing pores and brightening skin tone.
Fermented black soybean - rich in omega acids, it hydrates and helps to fight wrinkles.
Fermented rice bran- the waste in the rice polishing process, which turns brown rice to polished white rice. It mainly consists of yellowish outer layers of pericarp, seed-coat and part of germ. Studies show that it has good whitening effects in high concentrations.
Fermented starch - pullalan is a common one that functions as a skin conditioning agent. This is the one you’ll find inTosowoong’s Timeshift Essence.
You’ll also see other ingredients like yoghurt, ginseng, flower extracts and snail.
Some people suffer from a sensitivity to fermented ingredients. Many people with fungal acne also report negative side effects when using products containing fermented ingredients.
Symptoms to look out for include:
This occurs because fungi such as galactomyces trigger an increased activity of a protein in humans linked to certain skin diseases, therefore making fungal acne worse. If you do think you may have fungal acne, or are curious to learn more about it, take a listen back atEpisode 27.
While some brands dedicate their whole lines to fermented ingredients, there are a few extremely famous fermented K-Beauty products that can’t be ignored. They are:
Benton Fermentation Eye Cream – Packed full of skin-friendly fermented ingredients and ceramides, this cream gently cares for the delicate under-eye skin while also realising anti-aging benefits.
Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence – contains 90% fermented yeast concentrate, which absorbs into skin to energize, sooth, smooth, balance and revitalize it.
COSRX’s Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essencecontains 95% galactomyces ferment filtrate.
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair PROBIO Ampoule- contains 10 types of Lactobacillus with different effects. They enhance moisture levels and elasticity by providing energy to problematic skin areas. These work to improve skin’s basic strength, density, moisture, balance, skin tone and elasticity. They use a “cool warm double fermentation” method for the product.
"With a history stretching back to the Joseon Dynasty, fermented ingredients have been used in Korean skincare for hundreds of years."- Lauren Lee, Host of the Korean Beauty Show podcast
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