Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha (tea) and Kefir (a form of yogurt) – What do these foods have in common? These foods are products of fermentation that are beneficial in digestion process. Now, fermentation is not only about food and beverage. It is taking over the skin care industry in Korea and is fast becoming the latest beauty buzz among Koreans. This current fascination with Korean skincare routines and products brought this trend to the forefront.

Fermentation: The process and its skin care benefits

Fermentation is a process that happens when bacteria or yeast feed on the natural sugars in foods and creates compounds such as lactic acid or alcohol, which help preserve the food.  Fermenting food in salt water promotes growth of good bacteria, which is beneficial for the gut. Similarly, it can be beneficial for the skin.

In skin, good bacteria feed on sugar and starch, producing lactic acid. The process not only preserves but also make B-vitamins, probiotics, Omega-3 fatty acids, making them more nutrient dense than in its unfermented state. When applied to creams, yeast breaks down the active ingredients, making it easier to absorb. With fermentation, skin care ingredients prevent the harmful heating process that often occurs during manufacturing, making active ingredients far less effective. Fermentation also produce amino acids and antioxidants so it a win-win for the skin.

Unlike the stomach and intestines, skin is an enzyme-free area. This means it would be harder for skin cells to process large, botanical molecules. Fermentation manages by splitting them into smaller, skin-friendly chunks, without exposure to extreme heat or chemical processing that can compromise efficacy.

Fermented skin care products are loaded with fruits, herbs and plants. According to skin experts, fermenting key ingredients can enhance the effectiveness of the active ingredients that are loaded in the product.

Since this trend has crossed over into beauty industry, we can now feed our faces with super potent ingredients that are easily absorbed by skin that equipped better to fight environmental stressors and signs of aging. These fermented skin care products provide anti-aging benefits such as reduction of wrinkles, prevention of dullness and saggy skin among many others. Fermented skin care products contribute to overall health of the skin and encourage youthful skin glow.

Fermented skin care products are ideal for easily upset complexions or sensitive skin.  They are more symbiotic as they simulate skin’s cellular function without interrupting its natural processes.  Fermented skin products are also good sources of sugar and fruit acids like Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) that are helpful in refining, resurfacing, hydrating, protecting and strengthening the skin. This makes the skin less reactive and more radiant.

Research outcomes about fermented skin care

A scientific research about fermented skin care is encouraging as the compelling evidence shows that fermented ingredients could be superior skin anti-agers as compared to non-fermented ingredients. In a 2012 study, it was discovered that fermented red ginseng had greater concentrations of antioxidants, increased anti-wrinkle efficacy as well as whitening efficacy.

The same study also found out that toxins were reduced by fermenting. The use of yeast to ferment medicinal herbs claims that its extracts are safer and milder. Likewise, the extracts have broken down by microorganism and absorb by the skin easier.

Fermented skin care forms and ingredients

There are several fermented skin care products available in the market. Even the popular skin care brands offer these kinds of products under their skin care lines.  Among the skin care lines that undergone fermentation are cleansers, moisturizers, lotions and masks. However, fermented skin products are seen in most leave-on products than cleansers.
What are common fermented ingredients seen in skin care products? The fermented botanicals like chrysanthemum, dandelion, and aloe are common in this type of skin care products. The first two botanicals contain antioxidant properties, which are beneficial for the skin. Meanwhile, aloe is known for its soothing effects on skin. Other fermented ingredients are grains like rice, and proteins like soy. Rice is a gentle natural exfoliant that helps to even out skin tone while soy hydrates and nourishes the skin.

Fermenting active ingredients may provide a sort of protection for the skin as well as strengthen skin’s metabolism to make it stronger and healthier.

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