Fermented skincare is the latest weird beauty trend – here's why it works
You’ve probably heard of fermented food products like kimchi and sauerkraut and, in recent years their benefits for gut health.
Fermented foods contain live bacteria (also known as probiotics) down into the gut and these work to restore balance, support digestive health and alleviate any issues.
However, what is fermented beauty? Like any new buzz word, fermentation has been adopted by beauty brands who are embracing the process in skincare.
But how exactly does it work and should we be investing in it?
‘Fermented beauty refers to beauty products, which contain certain ingredients that have undergone the fermentation process,’ explains skincare
specialist Jane Scrivner.
‘Fermentation is where microorganisms (like yeast or bacteria) break down an ingredient into a smaller molecular structure making it more concentrated and more easily absorbed by the skin – aka more effective.
‘The fermentation process also cultivates healthy bacteria – making certain fermented ingredients rich in probiotics, which help to maintain and protect your skin’s microbiome, which is essential.
‘The skin’s microbiome is a distinct ecosystem of mostly bacteria, which acts as the skin’s first line of defence – hosting good bacteria, trapping in moisture and fighting off the bad bacteria and environmental pollutants.
The microbiome is constantly reconfiguring to maintain this delicate ecosystem and keep the surface of the skin a perfect pH to do so (typically between 4.5 and 5.5 pH).
‘However, it is often challenged by our lifestyle and daily habits and anything from using harsh products and stripping cleansers, to simply spending time by the seaside or being a gym bunny, can upset the skin’s microbiome and pH level. This can then leave the door open to harmful bacteria, inflammation, dryness, breakouts, skin damage and premature ageing.
‘Fermented skincare, rich in healthy bacteria and probiotics, can help balance and strengthen the microorganisms that make up our skin’s microbiome.’
Fermented beauty is nothing new, it’s been around for a long time, originating in Korea and Japan. And, according to Jane, you’ve probably been using fermented skincare products without even realising.
‘There are lots of fermented ingredients now used within the skincare industry, from green tea, which is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins and fermentation, and is said to increase the absorption of these nutrients, to mushrooms, which are filled with active compounds and can improve skin moisture, tone, inflammation and irritation.
‘Then there’s the commonly known, glycolic acid which, in natural form, can be derived from fruits, plants and sugar cane and works to exfoliate and stimulate cell turnover.
‘Also apple cider vinegar with the mother, which is host to live fermentation and packed with healthy bacteria. My advice is to understand what you want to gain from your product and then choose your fermented ingredients accordingly.’
Fermented skincare products to try
Glow Hub Purify and Brighten Super Serum
With the key ingredient of black tea ferment, Glow Hub’s Purify and Brighten Super Serum works to detoxify and balance the skin.
Antioxidant rich blueberry also helps calm and brighten your complexion.
Buy for £12 from Glow Hub.
Grow Gorgeous Sensitive Micellar Shampoo and Conditioner
Grow Gorgeous Sensitive Micellar Shampoo and Conditioner features fermented rice water, cica extract, and agave extract.
These work together to improve scalp health thanks to being nutrient-rich and deeply hydrating, strengthening and boosting shine.
Buy for £10.50 (shampoo; conditioner, £12) from Grow Gorgeous.
Sapienic Probiotic Mist
With ten million live probiotic bacteria per ml Sapienic Probiotic Mist works to influence barrier function and protect skin from pathogens, while inulin and other prebiotics help to grow skin microbes.
Buy for £37 from Sapienic.
Wo Skincare Daily Base Comfort Balm
Drawing upon the founder’s Asian heritage, Wo Skincare Daily Base Comfort Balm is a buttery cleansing balm that uses fermented shiunko, a Korean medicinal herb oil blend known for its potent anti-inflammatory effect.
Buy for £30 (28x2ml doses) from Wo.
Forest Rhapsody Skincare Milk Ferment
Forest Rhapsody Skincare Milk Ferment contains the probiotic lactobacillus ferment, plus rice bran, oatmeal and lactic acid that work to balance your skin’s microbiome and encourage cell renewal, while antioxidants protect skin from free radicals.
Buy for £43 from Forest Rhapsody Skincare.
Q+A Zinc PCA Facial Serum
With the more unusual ingredient of fermented raddish roots and mushroom extract (reishi and shiitake), Q+A Zinc PCA Facial Serum is rich in protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, for antioxidant, anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Buy for £9 from Q+A.
Jane Scrivner Skinfoliate
With English raw, organic apple cider vinegar, Jane Scrivner’s Skinfoliate is packed with healthy bacteria to keep the skin’s microbiome intact.
There’s also lactic, salicylic, citric, tartaric and glycolic acids from pineapple, burdock, bilberry, orange, lemon, sugar maple, witch hazel and white willow.
Buy for £29 from Jane Scrivner.
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