Korean beauty inspires North American trends, that much is clear. South Korea brought us the sheet mask, the air cushion, snail cream and pig collagen. And while the concepts and ingredients sound bizarre, people swear by them. The latest ingredient in K-beauty is fermentation, which, you might know, is how kimchi is traditionally made.
So, in basic terms, what is fermentation? Well, the process occurs when something – cabbage, for example – is left to sit in a brine and breakdown organically. So, kind of like rotting or decomposing mixed with pickling. Fermentation also occurs in booze-making, except in this case, the chemical breakdown turns sugars into ethyl alcohol.
While fermenting things makes cabbage delicious and alcohol super-delicious, why would you put something like ’em on your face? It turns out, the good bacteria that is created during the process generates lactic acid. And this reaction creates B-vitamins, yeast, Omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics and enzymes. As Oskia founder Georgie Cleeve puts it, “Yeast breaks down the active ingredients [in beauty products] making them easier to absorb.”
So, are you interested in rubbing some salty, broken down botanicals on your face? Here’s where to start:
The latest beauty trend is one step away from rubbing rotted cabbage on your face
Fermented BambooBamboo-sap extract, red clover flower, hibiscus, snow lotus and fruit water are fermented for one to three years at 37 degrees Celsius to produce ideal levels of ingredients that hydrate and brighten dry skin.
SU:M37 Water-Full Rebalancing Gel Lotion, $73 at Sokoglam Sokoglam
Fermented AlgaeThis detoxifying serum uses a marine botanical blend that's fermented to give you glowing skin.
Sea Minerals Purify, $58 at Brad SkincareBrad Skincare
Fermented Herbal MedicineFour world-renowned ingredients from Asian herbal medicine are fermented for this potent toner: ginseng, foxglove, pleuropterus multiflorus and polygonatum falcatum.
Sooryehan Hyo Fermented Toner, $39 at AmazonAmazon
Fermented SoybeansAccording to Innisfree, "The Naturally Fermented Collagen Activator™ is a resilience complex containing soycol-G and adenosine," which is said to be a substance from the fermented soybeans beans and a wrinkle-preventing substance.
Soybean Firming Neck Cream, $28 at InnisfreeInnisfree
Fermented Black Yeast and Red BerriesThere's even fermented cream for your hands. This time, fermented red berries and black yeast boost the moisture.
Total Repairing Hand Treatment, $13 at MisshaMissha
Fermented Snail MucinThis skin-tightening formula uses bio-fermented skin mucus.
Super 7 Elixir, $387 at ImmunocologieImmunocologie
Fermented Sake LeavesYou drink sake, sure, but you can also use the fermented leaves to give yourself a facial.
Facial Treatment Essence, $143 - $395 at NordstromSK-II
Fermented Korean HerbsA sheet mask + fermentation = super-Korean beauty trend.
Snowise EX Brightening Mask, 10 Sheets, $138 at Neiman MarcusSulwhasoo