Skip to main content



Style & Beauty

Everything you need to know about SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence

We have the answers to all your burning queries on your trusty bottle of Facial Treatment Essence: What exactly is Pitera™, Its benefits, Facial Treatment Essence application techniques, whether it’s suitable for sensitive skin and the million-dollar question – is it worth it?

Like fashion fads, beauty trends are cyclical. The latest buzz: Fermented skincare, touted as the ultimate secret to that coveted J-beauty glow. 

It may be trendy today, but the #OG has withstood the test of time and tide. What better product to lead the pack than the best-selling classic SK-II Facial Treatment Essence that’s been around for 38 years?

The Miracle of Pitera™

Entering the beauty world back in 1980, the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is powered by the Japanese beauty brand’s star ingredient Pitera™. And like every good superheroine, this salve has an incredibly interesting origin story. The legend was founded when scientists noticed that the wrinkly faces of elderly workers in a sake brewery contrasted drastically with their extraordinarily soft and youthful-looking hands. 

As it turns out, the secret to their ageless hands was none other than (yep, you guessed it) Pitera™. Constant contact with sake during the fermentation process unwittingly exposed them to the goodness of Pitera™, which is a veritable treasure trove of over 50 micro-nutrients that combine to confer just about any and every beauty benefit imaginable. It conditions your skin, locks in moisture from within, bestows radiance for crystal-clear skin, strengthens your skin’s barrier function and hastens recovery from damage over time for all-round healthier skin.

Also good to know: Within the SK-II suite, the Facial Treatment Essence holds the highest concentration of the active ingredient and is packed with more than 90 percent of the fermented ingredient so you get the most bang for your beauty buck.

What benefits does it confer, exactly?

While the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence promises to improve skin when it comes to texture, radiance, firmness, spot control, and wrinkle resilience – and all in just 14 days – a surprising and entirely welcome effect was that it seems to balance sebum production and help squelch shine throughout the day, especially around my T-Zone. Hurrah! 

Does it work for all skin types?

I have sensitive skin that’s easily irritated and blotchy but am happy to report that the fragrance-free Facial Treatment Essence (the unique scent comes from Pitera™, and you’ll be glad to know doesn’t linger for long) was gentle enough to use on my ruddy skin, with blotches and blemishes diminishing over time. Plus, I find it works to reduce the severity of hormonal breakouts too. But as with all products, it's best to consult with your dermatologist before trying, as it may cause an initial flare-up depending on the reactivity of your particular skin type.

The application technique

When it comes to layering skincare, the general rule of thumb would be to start with the product that’s lightest in consistency and work your way up. If you have the habit of using a toner after cleansing and you’re wondering if the Facial Treatment Essence is used before or after toner, the answer is after.  For me, I usually apply the Facial Treatment Essence, which has a wonderfully watery texture, straight after cleansing as the essential first step of my skincare routine. I find that it immediately retains moisture sans stickiness and gives skin a boost in brilliance, plus it serves as a primer of sorts in amplifying the absorption of the other serums and salves that follow.

Is it worth it?

Short answer: Yes. If you're serious about skincare, this is an investment that will reap dividends for months and even years to come. 

For one, it's a versatile all-purpose product that can be used in a myriad number of ways. While you can dab the product straight onto the skin, I usually sprinkle it onto a cotton pad and swipe over my face, AM and PM.  If I have time to spare or if I'm headed out for a Very Important Event, I'll soak several cotton pads with the essence and leave it on my cheeks and forehead for a few minutes as a quickie mask for an instant shot of shine. This extra helping of hydration means my makeup glides on that much better, too.

Finally, when it comes to skincare, I’m quite the liberal user. That said, a 230ml bottle, which I slather on twice daily, lasts a good two to three months. Not too bad, eh. Sure, at $269 per pop for a 230ml bottle, this stuff doesn’t come cheap – but you can’t put a price on the self-confidence accorded with having healthy skin, can you?

If you're raring to start your journey to crystal-clear skin, head here to find a store near you, where you can purchase a PITERA™ Welcome Set and your very own Facial Treatment Essence.


Also worth reading