SKII Facial Treatment Essence

SKII Facial Treatment Essence
Facial Treatment EssenceFacial Treatment Essence


609 reviews

60% would repurchase

Package Quality: 3.5

Price: $$$$

Package Quality: 3.5

Price: $$$$


Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate (Pitera), Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Water, Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben, Sorbic Acid

Where to Buy

Start your review

on 11/22/2015 10:10:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Sensitive, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brunette, Other, Medium

Eyes: Hazel

This is the kind of product that drives Paula Begoun, over at Beautypedia, nuts. "No substantiated research!" that pitera, the active ingredient, is of any particular benefit to your skin, she cries. And she hates the price. And although she doesn't mention it, she rarely has anything nice to say about bottles that admit light.

But here's the thing...while the experts at Beautypedia give SK-ll's Facial Treatment Essence two stars, the site's user community gives it four and a half. So I tried it, because frankly I get bored with my skin care products sometimes and I've been hearing about this stuff for years, and opinions of the people who use a product make me curious.

On Sephora's website you can buy a single-use Facial Treatment Mask. The mask really is good, and not very, for a single use. I don't like how it's shaped, especially around the chin. But the thing that's really interesting and useful about the mask is that before you put it on, you can squeeze a terrific amount of the Essence itself into the packet and save it for later. I rolled the packet up tight and used a barrette to clip it shut.

By dipping my (freshly washed!) fingertip into the remaining liquid and dabbing it onto my face (soaking a cotton pad would be crazy overkill) I was able to get about two weeks' use out of the Essence I had left. That's enough time for a very good trial run of a product, and since the mask cost $17, it's also a cheap trial for an expensive product.

And in my opinion Paula is wrong about this one. There are a lot of benefits to reading Beautypedia. I've learned a lot about the chemistry of cosmetic products, and information like what percentage of various ingredients a product needs to be effective, and how things need to be packaged so that they won't deteriorate before you can use them. But every once in a while I think that chemistry isn't the whole story. Just because the research isn't there yet doesn't mean a product doesn't work. Make sure, by all means, that what you're about to spread on your skin isn't going to be harmful, but when there's a wildcard ingredient like pitera, you need to try it for yourself to see if it works for you.

If I didn't respect the views of actual users, I wouldn't bother to write or read reviews here on MakeupAlley. So here is my rubber-meets-the-road view of SK-ll's Facial Treatment Essence: it's worth trying. My skin likes it, and has rewarded me for using it by becoming more even-toned, which is one of the things I want my skin to be and an issue I have consistently. I think my skin looks brighter.

Your millage my vary, of course. But try the trick with the face mask if you're really curious and don't otherwise want to spend the money.

66 of 66 people found this helpful.

Age: 19-24

Skin: Sensitive, Olive, Warm

Hair: Black, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Brown

I initially wrote a glowing review for this product a few months back and now, I'm here to take back every praiseworthy thing I ever said about the gargantuan hype that is SK-II.

This stuff completely wrecked my complexion. Prior to introducing SK-II to my skincare routine, I had perfectly smooth, radiant and flawless skin. Granted, I had a few minor pores around my nose which never really bothered me until I read about SK-II in a magazine and how the supposedly 'miracle' ingredient Pitera gave celebrities like Cate Blanchett and Gong Li perfect porcelain faces. And because my lemming coincided with an SK-II promotion at my local Myer department store, I went on ahead and asked the SA for a small 11 ml trial-size bottle of the Facial Treatment Essence to try.

I used it up in 3 weeks, and convinced myself that my skin was looking the best it had ever been. Radiant, glowing, smooth...and my oh my, those pesky minor pores were diminished! Oh hallelujah, they were barely there at all! God bless Sk-II!

I told myself that I would just DIE if I couldn't add this little gem to my already (very) extravagant skincare routine. So I shelled out AUD 175 for a 150 ml bottle of the Treatment Essence, consoling myself that I could look forward to at least a year of pristine flawless beauty. Bah! Within two weeks of using the new bottle, I started to break out. Now, a pimple around that time of month is perfectly normal for me but my skin remains absolutely crystal clear the rest of the time. Needless to say, I was more than a little concerned when I started breaking out in huge cystic zits.

I don't know why it took me so long to pinpoint SK-II as the culprit in my battle of the blemishes. I thought it was my sunscreen that was breaking me out. So I (unwisely) stopped using that. But alas, I continued to look like Godzitla. I tried so many things, throwing out my HG skincare items one by one, making drastic changes to my diet, praying. Nothing seemed to work. I was completely floored. I never imagined that the SK-II was at fault because I had used it for a complete month with absolutely no drama whatsoever. I finally wised up about 10 days ago and shelved the damn thing.

My breakouts have stopped, but it's going to take a loooong time before my complexion regains its once-perfect glory :( The Pitera has really thinned out my skin and where I could once normally slap almost anything on my face without fearing a breakout, I can't do so anymore. My face has become a sensitive mess. Even my previous HG items aren't receiving a fond welcome back like I hoped. It's going to take me at least a month (aren't I optimistic) before my skin regains some semblance of balance once again.

A word to the wise, ladies: if your skincare routine ain't broke, don't fix it. I've learnt a harsh lesson here. If you have sensitive skin, I urge you to stay away from all SK-II products, especially the Facial Treatment Essence. The packaging is really quite unsanitary as you have to keep tipping liquid out and it continually splashes over the rim. Because the Treatment Essence contains 90% Pitera (which is, in essence, bacteria), this coupled with poor packaging enhances the risk of being a breeding ground for other 'less-friendly' bacteria tenfold.

For those who have been lucky with SK-II products, I'm truly happy that it hasn't turned your skin into a cystic warzone. For those who are tempted to give this a shot, I strongly encourage you not to. It's NOT worth the risk. Trust me.

47 of 57 people found this helpful.

on 7/9/2016 3:33:00 PM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Black, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I have used this product intermittently for the past decade. Every time I try the line, I really hope it makes a difference. It's an ok moisturiser, but that's it. When I do try the line, I mean the whole product line of cleanser, toner, essence, cream (LXP), eye cream, whitener, face mask, etc etc. It sets me back $1000 easily each time I give it a go. So believe me when I say I have given it a go, and that I have real regrets.

For those of you who really like pitera (known as galactomyces), there are plenty of dupes around. Tony Moly, Missha and a whole list of other companies sell this at a fraction of the price. This website comes with a few other alternatives: (I am NOT affiliated!)

I tell you all this, because like I have told my best friend who uses this line, if you want the active ingredient, you shouldn't have to pay this much. Seriously, Tony Moly is $22 for a 150ml bottle on Amazon. AND it is 96.5% pitera! (vs SKII at 90%)

If you like the product, great. Personally, I gave $700 worth of unused remaining products to my sister because I felt like I was splashing water on my face. Now I use a $20 moisturiser from Etude House, and toner/serum from Instanatural (which cost approx $20 each). However, if you want to stick with pitera, for the sake of your wallets, please consider the alternatives. Some of the other brands are really quite reputable.

40 of 40 people found this helpful.

on 5/30/2011 12:09:00 AM

Age: 56 & Over

Skin: Very Dry, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Red, Other, Other

Eyes: Blue

I am 70. I fell for Cate Blanchett's ad, and I'm so glad. Initially, I just loved that after splashing on a bit in the morning I no longer looked 87. I really need not to look 87 in the morning, but after a few weeks of using it, I find I rarely look more than 80. I added some SK-II Skin Signature creme and started to look well under 80. Many people now claim that I cannot be more than 50. I don't fight with them. I've added other SK-II products and plan never again to be without this substance. Have needed increasingly less exfoliant. It has become impossible to tell that I once had really awful acne. My eyelids have stopped asking for surgery. Hope my neck hears the word, My hands are no longer scary. Thanks, Cate.

38 of 42 people found this helpful.

on 10/12/2010 3:27:00 PM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Normal, Fair-Medium, Neutral

Hair: Black, Wavy, Coarse

Eyes: Brown

Once I thought Thayers toner was best, slowly I found it quite drying. Comparatively speaking, this is by far the best toner I've ever used. Expensive, yes, but worth every penny.

At the age of 30, I'm still a heavy smoker, have been smoking for the last 10 years. Certainly this is not a healthy habit, but I'm usually mistaken as someone 23-24, and people are surprised that I'm a heavy smoker, by the way my skin looks.

I use SKii facial treatment essence together with Fancl washing powder, Decleor's Aromessence (Iris oil and Rose balm) twice a day, and Dermalogica's Daily Resurfacer and Daily Microfoliant weekly. I love this combination, it really brightens and clarifies my skin tremendously. All these products have active ingredients to improve skin conditions, and might not be suitable for all skin types.

During the summer, I just use Fancl washing powder and Skii facial treatment and skip the oil and balm, and I still can manage to have pore-less skin.

Sometimes I give myself a "toner mask". According to a Japanese beauty guru, it is not about what products you buy, but it all depends on how you use the products. Toner is what helps the absorption of essences and cream, and the way most people use toner (just pad on skin) is very wasteful and does not reveal the best potential a toner can provide. So she suggested, after washing your face, soak some cotton puff/ pads in a solution consisted of half toner and half distilled water, then layer them over your face and neck, and cover your face with cellophane for 5 mins(certainly, open a hole so that you can breath). Using cellophane is to make sure the solution is being absorbed and not evapourated, also to trap some heat so that the skin can absorb better. After 5 mins, you can lift up the cellophane and the cotton pads, then apply essence and cream as usual.

I found this trick very useful, it does make a big difference, this really hydrates and brightens your skin, with this toner and this technique, I don't even need to buy and use other masks.

This Japanese beauty guru is called Saeki Chizu, she is nearly 70 and has fabulous skin, definitely does not look 70 years old, she has been in beauty industry for all her life, had worked for Dior as an executive for years. Some dermatologists (all men) were skeptical about her approach, but hey, this woman is a living proof! Please google search for her photos! You'll see what I mean.

For those who are interested, should definitely check this out.

25 of 27 people found this helpful.

on 4/26/2010 5:56:00 AM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Sensitive, Fair-Medium, Cool

Hair: Black, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Brown

The Facial Treatment Essence is the linchpin of the line, the "holy water", a cocktail of humectants arranged around Pitera, the fabled ingredient that provides the gravitational pull for this particular planetary system. The legend, if you haven't heard it, of the workers of sake factories and their exposure to the fermenting broth, supplies great charm. SK-II makes no effort to disguise the distinctively yeasty odor, a masterstroke of consumer psychology reinforced by the SAs who urge the consumer's indulgence. I can report nothing whatsoever on Pitera's efficacy as an anti-aging, sebum-balancing, texture-refining, super-brightening panacea—treatments are best reserved for problematic skin—mine simply registers it as a mild irritant. Otherwise, the Facial Treatment Essence behaves in much the same manner of other Asian "softeners", in texture akin to the western "toner" but functionally a different breed. A toner clears the skin of leftover residue, a service rendered obsolete by the double-cleansing method (an oil-based makeup remover followed by a dense foam cleanser) espoused by most Asian brands; a softener by contrast is a high concentration of moisture-binding agents, applied in surfeit, to saturate the top layers of the skin and improve the penetrative capacities of pricey treatments and moisturizers. Hence, there is a trick to manipulating the Facial Treatment Essence: I saturate strong, gauze-thin cotton tissue (an entire teaspoon is recommended), less messy than fingers alone but far less absorbent than regular pads, to pat in gently (including eyes), and layer the next product while the skin is still damp. The packaging, matte glass in counterpoint to red lettering and shiny silver metal, is almost demure.

On my skin, this is a softener-that-irritates-at-a-hefty-price. Meh.

20 of 22 people found this helpful.

on 10/2/2009 2:45:00 PM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Oily, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Black, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

This product is great..i echoed the same experience by other members who love this essence...I've also read reviews by others who experience skin irritations after using this essence and would like to offer some advice.

The essence contains pitera, a yeast-based compound, that help to speed up/restore skin cells renewal. This compound is actually quite potent, hence, if you didn't experience irritation at beginning but itch/rash/whatever occur later on, you should not use this everyday. The logic is that if your skin cell keep renewing non-stop, the skin surface will eventually get too "raw" and sensitive. Let's not forget that our skin has its own renewal process too.

My advice is based on my own experience. I had irritation by the time i started using my 2nd bottle. I stopped using it for a week, by then i was thinking of "why waste this stuff? it's so expensive"...To my surprise there was no irritations...that's how i started using it every alternate week...There are many variation to this, it may be every alternate day/ week...or every 3/4/5 days and so on....

It's normal to experience more breakout/blemishes at the start of using it because as the skin renews, whatever hidden in the inner layers comes to the surface. Just have to be patient.

Be careful what you use it with. If you are using other skincare apart from this essence, it may or may not gives a reaction. This is yeast extract after all.

If you decide to buy the largest bottle, i advice you to transfer some into a small bottle and refill when needed, this is how you prevent contamination.

Even though this is a great product, i can't say it will work for everyone. If you've tried different method of using this essence and you still have irritation, it is best to stop using it.

16 of 16 people found this helpful.

on 10/25/2015 11:04:00 AM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Sensitive, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Black, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Brown

This product seems more expensive nowadays. I found the price is always increased up to 10%-15% every year during the past 4 years.
I use sk-ii series (cleanser-toner-this essence-moisturizer-sunscreen) diligently for more less 2,5 years and then I gave up when those basic series could not make my skin become crystal clear (well, that’s what it said on their website for this essence), my mild rosacea is still there, my hormonal acne still come and go, but gladly my skin doesn't act up and even more radiant.

I must admit I love their series because they don’t irritate, don’t break out and don’t flare up my mild rosacea combi-oily skin. And I love this essence the most because it refresh and hydrate my skin. The texture is light and watery such as the toner, but I always made it as pre-serum/serum because the instruction said use it after cleansing and toning.

I follow every step of the instruction at first, but soak a cotton pad make this essence become wasteful and you know this product isn’t cheap! Pour on my hand is not a solution either because it’s also wasteful and often slip out of my hand. So I just move it and put it into spray bottle, thus I can spray the essence deliberately on my 4 spot face (forehead-cheeks-chin) then I dab/pat it with hand. In this way I can save and make the essence last longer. I used it twice daily and the 150ml/5.1oz size can last for more than 6 months (when I soak a cotton pad it’s only last for 4-5 months).

I found out that when I use the complete basic sk-ii series, my skin became radiant/bright. But when I use this essence alone (mix with other brand for cleanser, toner and moisturizer) my skin looks dull and not as bright as used to be. So the miracle water isn’t doing much ‘miracle’ for me.

Now I change this essence with clinique even better essence lotion (for combi-oily skin) which is cheaper and apparently some of the ingredients are quite similar as this sk-ii essence. It also feels quite the same on my skin although clinique essence is a bit tacky/sticky afterward, not like sk-ii essence which is more clear watery texture, but considering the price and the result on my skin, oh well i'd still choose clinique rather than sk-ii

15 of 15 people found this helpful.

Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Medium, Neutral

Hair: Black, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Black

i'm so skeptical about this expensive water stuff
everyone loves this product in my country
but some people also hates it, because it breaks their skin, purging reaction, and it's so expensive

and finally i give it a try, i try the sample size first
i have to admit, it's a great product, my skin feels more glowing and brigther

it adsorb on my skin quickly

if you have extra money, try to buy this, but i think try the sample size first

if you wanna try this kind of water stuff but the price doesn't make sense for you, these are dupes that i already try (please note, all of these products are korean skincare, sk ii is originally from japan) :
- Secret Key starting treatment essence (originally, this is the first product that i try, for such a cheap price, it gives you a good result, but remember, try the sample size first)
- SKIN&LAB bio activating essence (the consistency of this essence is more thick, it does improve your skin, it claimed to be good for anti-aging, but not sure about this tbh)
- cosrx galactomyces 95 whitening power essence (not my favorite tbh, but people said this could be a good dupe, i don't see any change on my skin even tho i already use this for more than 3 months)

also missha time revolution the first treatment essence, but i never try this product

out of all those products, i rank them as :
sk ii - secret key - skin&lab - cosrx

as for the packaging, be careful, it's fragile
just transfer your product on some plastic bottle if you want to bring it for travel purpose

13 of 16 people found this helpful.

on 11/25/2012 8:29:00 AM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Normal, Olive, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Hazel

I love this product! Before buying skin care products, I do research. Also, I am not one to buy a product unless there are scientific facts supporting some sort of improvement. My routine used to consist of using a good cleanser (although now the oil cleansing method), toning (Perricone ... which I still love) and exfoliation (Retin A at night). My skin is better than average just by using this routine and a SPF sunscreen of 25 and above. But, now I use the Facial Treatment Essence instead of my regular toner and my skin looks plump and has a glow (ass all the other reviewers have said). Because of this I purchase some other SKII products as well. The masks are amazing as is the essential power moisturizer. Anyways, they are pricey but nothing has done for my skin what this has. At first I thought what is Patera... sounds gimicky (sorry about the spelling). But, it actually works( and this from someone who really just thought only Retin A can make actual changes). Patera is packed with nutrients and my skin has been transforming in front of my eyes. It seems that the old dull skin has been replaced with new more translucent skin ... just as the product promises. Anyways, that is how it has worked for my skin. As I said, I do research ... one thing I know is that it is difficult to take skin care reviews from what others have experienced and expect the same results. Everyone's skin is so unique. But, it does work for me just as I said it does. For others it might not . Generally, what I do is look at percentages .... the SKII product line is rated pretty high by the users on this sight. Most of the reviews are positive and mention the things I have said (a glow and translucencey). For me the SKII products are worth it ... I have had better results with this than with professional facials and IPL. If you can purchase just one thing from this product line I would purchase the Facial Treatment Essence .... it is transforming. Then I would purchase the moisturizer, serums and masks. I have not yet had one bad experience or been disappointed in any of my purchases.

13 of 15 people found this helpful.

Back to Top