5 reasons to try fermented skincare

Here’s why we’re buying into the game-changing Korean beauty trend that promises potent ingredients for flawless skin.

Hair & Beauty

1. Korean women are big fans

With their flawless natural-looking skin, Korean women know a thing or two about beauty. So when a skincare trend hits the UK that already has their stamp of approval, you’d better believe we’re taking note. Of course, fermenting natural ingredients is nothing new; humans have been adding yeast and gut-friendly bacteria to foods for centuries to enhance flavour and increase health benefits (think kefir, miso and kimchi). “Fermentation is a process by which bacteria – or microorganisms like yeast – transform a substrate,” explains Dr Marie Drago, founder of skincare brand Gallinée. This breaks down or alters the ingredients of a natural compound, helping to enhance its nutrients. “It’s one of the oldest skills developed by humans,” she adds. “And the more we learn about it, the more we can use precise bacteria on precise plants to create exact fermented products that meet our skincare needs.”

2. The ingredients are more active and therefore more potent

Just like the fermentation process can upgrade the health benefits of certain foods, it can also increase the potency of skincare ingredients. “Natural ingredients fermented by bacteria can produce a whole lot of new actives,” explains Dr Drago. “Bacteria transform simple fibres or sugars into totally new ingredients such as vitamins, acids or emollients.” Alicia Schweiger, co-founder of Swiss skincare brand Elixseri, adds: “Fermentation produces powerful by-products such as additional proteins, amino-acids, fruit acids, vitamins and polysaccharides. These are remarkable exfoliators, hydrators and collagen preservers, which are essential for the skin’s metabolic processes.” And it gets better...

3. The products absorb easily

The fermentation process also helps to break down ingredients into smaller parts, reducing their molecular size and enabling them to be more easily absorbed by the skin: “The ingredients become smaller and possess a lower molecular weight, making them more bioavailable to the skin,” explains Dr Nitasha Buldeo, founder of natural skincare brand Organic Apoteke.

4. You can find something for all skin types and concerns

Fermented skincare can benefit everyone - the trick is picking out the best ingredients for your skin’s individual needs. So, if you want to fight wrinkles and reduce dark spots without irritating the skin, products containing fermented red ginseng are for you. Or, if you’re looking for a plumper and softer complexion, fermented soy can help boost the skin’s own production of hyaluronic acid. Likewise, green tea seed oil has superior moisturising benefits and the complex fermentation process releases an extra hit of vitamin E, free fatty acids and polyphenols.

5. You can upgrade to fermented skincare today

You probably already use fermented skincare products without knowing it. Lactic acid, for example, is derived from fermented milk. And new products are being developed all the time, with beauty brands fermenting a whole host of superfoods - from green tea and wasabi to pumpkin. “It’s easy to slip fermented products into your skincare routine,” says Karen Gerrard, founder of Seams Beauty. “Start by replacing your regular toner with a fermented essence to use after cleansing. Many fermented products have multiple uses too, making them time saving as an added bonus.”

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