Are you Interested in Fermented Skincare?

Along with the wave of South Korean pop music, addictive sheet masks, and 10 step skincare routines, has come an appreciation for fermented foods. Kimchi any one?!?! Fermentation has been a staple in Korean culture for centuries. It is no surprise that the ever-inventive Korean skincare industry has been incorporating fermented ingredients into their cosmetics. Our OG favorite is the Missha First Treatment Essence made with Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate and Bifida Ferment Lysate. The Missha essence was our first ever K-beauty product…..waxing nostalgically…..

Ok, so what is fermentation? Fermentation is the chemical process by which complex organic compounds into simpler organic compounds via a chemical enzyme reaction often facilitated by bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms anaerobically (without air). In skincare, yeast is often used for the fermentation process. Fermented foods are well known for their digestive benefits. Fermentation increases the availability of the nutrients in food and has even been linked to cancer prevention. It should be noted that these health claims are not supported by a significant body of literature. However, the studies that have been done demonstrate the benefits of low-sodium fermented foods for overall health and well-being.

But, can these benefits be translated to skincare?

The answer is, maybe. In theory, if the ingredients are naturally fermented then this should yield a high concentration of nutrients that could be beneficial for the skin. The fermentation process reduces the molecular size of the raw materials and increases the nutrient density allowing theses skin-loving nutrients to better penetrate the skin. The fermentation process also creates new amino acids, organic acids (like alpha hydroxy acids), and antioxidants that did not exist in the raw natural ingredients and neutralizes toxic substances like heavy metals and pesticides reducing the risk of skin damage and/or irritation.

The most researched fermented skincare ingredients are red ginseng and soy. One study found that Bifidobacterium- fermented soy milk extract stimulates hyaluronic acid production in human skin cells and hairless mouse skin. They further state that bifidobacterium could prevent the age-dependent loss of cutaneous hyaluronic acid. Studies have shown that fermented red ginseng using Lactobacillus brevis for use as cosmetic ingredients offers increased anti-wrinkle and brightening (reduces dark spots) efficacy.

Do you want to incorporate fermented ingredients into your skincare routine?

We love fermented ingredients! You don’t even need to break the bank to start using them. Start by examining the products you currently use because there is a good chance some of them already contain fermented ingredients. Fermented ingredients are used in cleansers, toners, essences, moisturizers; basically they can be found in any step of your routine. A few things to look for are: sea kelp, black soy, fermented olive leaf extract, ginseng, black tea, bamboo sap extract, bifida ferment lysate, saccharomyces ferment filtrate, rice ferment filtrate, etc. Do your homework on the benefits of these fermented ingredients and target products that have the ingredients that could provide the results you are looking to achieve. Below are some of our favorite products with fermented ingredients

Su:m37 was the first skincare brand in South Korea specializing in naturally fermented skincare and they make one of the first cleansers we ever used that had fermented ingredients; specifically fermented damask rose extract. Unfortunately, it is often sold out in the U.S. and even in South Korea. There is even a sad rumor that it is discontinued. If you can get your hands on the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick buy back-ups!

Most of the products with fermented ingredients that we have tried fall into the categories of toners, essences, and treatments.

  1. Primary Raw DoYou Soy Milk Ferment Essence Toner

  2. Neogen Real Ferment Essence

  3. Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence

  4. CosRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence

  5. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

  6. SK-II Facial Treatment Mask

  7. Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener

  8. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

  9. Youth to the People Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner

Do you want to keep things simple? Check out some of our favorite yogurt masks. Yogurt is our go-to for a simple fermented skincare mask.



  2. Nair, Mydhily R B et al. “Fermented Foods: Are They Tasty Medicines for Helicobacter pylori Associated Peptic Ulcer and Gastric Cancer?.” Frontiers in microbiology vol. 7 1148. 25 Jul. 2016, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.01148

  3. Gille, Doreen et al. “Fermented Food and Non-Communicable Chronic Diseases: A Review.” Nutrients vol. 10,4 448. 4 Apr. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10040448



  6. Lee, Hyun-Sun et al. “Fermenting red ginseng enhances its safety and efficacy as a novel skin care anti-aging ingredient: in vitro and animal study.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 15,11 (2012): 1015-23. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.2187

  7. Hyun, Yu Jae et al. “Effect of Fermented Fish Oil on Fine Particulate Matter-Induced Skin Aging.” Marine drugs vol. 17,1 61. 18 Jan. 2019, doi:10.3390/md17010061

  8. Lee, Sein et al. “A fermented barley and soybean formula enhances skin hydration.” Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition vol. 57,2 (2015): 156-63. doi:10.3164/jcbn.15-43