Quickly and easily absorbs into skin
Improves skin texture and elasticity
Evens skin tone
Suitable for all skin types
Not Byrdie Clean
SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Essence
We put the SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Essence to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
I’m not one to shy away from trying new products, mostly because I’m lucky in that my skin isn’t usually prone to breakouts. But, as a woman dealing with fluctuating hormones that stressed out and aged my skin, I have been in dire need of rejuvenation.
So when I was assigned a review of SK-II's Pitera Facial Treatment Essence, a longtime cult-favorite in the beauty world, I leapt at the chance to try it for myself.
I’ll be honest—before writing this review, I had never fully understood the appeal in spending hundreds of dollars on a skincare product. But with over 40 years of glowing reviews from celebrities and skincare experts alike, I figured there had to be valid reasons for the hype surrounding SK-II’s award-winning Facial Treatment Essence, which claims to transform your skin’s appearance. Ahead, find my honest thoughts about SK-II’s best-selling essence.
Best for: All skin types.
Uses: A daily essence that hydrates, improves elasticity, reduces fine lines, improves uneven skin tone, and has an anti-aging effect.
Potential allergens: Pentylene glycol, butylene glycol
Byrdie Clean? No; contains parabens.
Price: $99 for 2.5 oz., $185 for 5.4 oz., $235 for 7.7 oz.
About the brand: Established in 1980, SK-II is a luxury Japanese skincare brand that revolutionized the skincare and beauty market with their use of a unique yeast strain that is found in the production of sake. SK-II’s iconic facial treatment essence remains a cult-favorite among celebrities and skincare experts alike; in fact, one bottle of their Pitera Facial Treatment Essence is sold every two seconds.
About My Skin: Dry with occasional stress-related blemishes
My skin tends to be on the drier side, which I mostly attribute to genetics (and my caffeine problem). Depending on my stress or hormone levels throughout the month, I tend to experience the occasional pimple or two (I recently started using a topical retinoid, Differin, every other day to address this concern). I try and keep my skincare routine as simple as possible: cleanser, toner, treatment/serum, and moisturizer.
The Feel: Light and instantly hydrating
Per the famed 10-step Korean skincare routine, you should apply your essence directly after toning, since your toner essentially preps your skin to reap the full benefits of your essence.
As for application, the brand suggests to pour two to three shakes onto the palm of your hand, press your palms together, and gently pat directly onto your face and neck. The essence is watery, but a little product goes a long way. SK-II’s global ambassador, Tang Wei, demonstrates her signature “Pat-Pat” routine here.
The Ingredients: Nourishing and bouncy
Containing more than 90 percent Pitera (SK-II’s name for the yeast more commonly known as galactomyces ferment filtrate), this essence’s unique yeast-derived formulation allows for rapid cell turnover in your skin while enhancing your skin barrier. Pitera contains over 50 micro-nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and organic acids that act as a “magic liquid”—I can attest, regular use of this product on my skin does, in fact, feel like magic.
The Scent: Slightly yeasty
As mentioned, the active ingredient in SK-II's Pitera Facial Treatment Essence is a yeast, so there is a subtle yeasty scent, though it's nothing too off-putting. The formula has no artificial fragrance, so anyone whose skin is sensitive to that can feel good about using it.
The Results: Smoother, plumper skin
After a week of using SK-II’s Pitera Facial Treatment Essence, I can officially say that I understand the hype surrounding this skincare product. I’ve already noticed a remarkable difference in my overall skin tone and brightness, and my skin feels more rejuvenated within this first week of use than it has all year, which is a complete win in my book. SK-II claims that their essence will help your skin look and feel even brighter within 28 days, so I’ll be continuing my use of this product to see the results for myself.
The Value: Expensive, but the formula justifies the price
As a luxury brand with a highly secretive formulation and cult-following, it makes sense that the price point for this “miracle” product is high. I’m not usually one to splurge on skincare anywhere over $40, but after seeing the incredible results on my own skin (in merely a week, no less!), I’d consider myself an SK-II convert.
Also, SK-II customers say that the smaller bottle of the Pitera Facial Treatment Essence, which sells for $99, can last up to four or five months even when used daily.
Similar Products: You've got options
Then I Met You The Giving Essence: This indie brand’s essence ($50) contains the same active galactomyces ferment filtrate ingredient as SK-II and has proven itself to be a worthy dupe of the cult-favorite. It also contains other noteworthy ingredients, such as ellagic acid to brighten and protect against UV rays, and red algae to remove dead skin cells and other impurities. Even better, The Giving Essence is sold in a 3.38-oz. bottle for half the price of SK-II’s 2.5-oz. size ($99).
COSRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence: Formulated with a whopping 95% galactomyces ferment filtrate, this COSRX essence ($25) contains nearly identical ingredients to SK-II’s essence at a quarter of the price. However, some users have reported that COSRX’s essence triggered an acne outbreak (a few reported fungal acne), so you might be better off avoiding this particular product if your skin is extra sensitive or prone to acne.
Honestly, my skin feels more rejuvenated within my first week of using SK-II’s Pitera Facial Treatment Essence than it has all year, which is a complete win in my book. The brand claims that their essence will help your skin look and feel even brighter within 28 days, so I’ll be continuing my use of this product to see the results for myself. Although SK-II’s essence is priced higher than others on the market, the quality of their ingredients (and over 40 years of expertise in their field) lets them speak for themselves. If you’re looking for a step to add to your skincare routine that is sure to revive your skin, no matter what type, look no further than SK-II.
- Product Name Pitera Facial Treatment Essence
- Product Brand SK-II
- Price $99
- Weight 2.5 oz.
- Full Ingredient List Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate*, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Water, Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben, Sorbic Acid. *PITERA™.