Fermentation, which is a metabolic process that converts sugars to acids, gases, or alcohol, typically occurs in yeast and bacteria and has been used in the food world for centuries (think sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha). When it comes to skin care, most products contain fermented fruits, herbs, botanicals, and yeast.
The idea to use fermented ingredients in skin care arose from the many benefits that fermented foods provide for the body. For example, fermented foods provide probiotics to the digestive system, helping to balance the bacteria levels in the stomach. The many benefits of probiotics, including improving bowel health and immunity and supporting digestion, have led to the use of this bacteria and fermentation process in a number of industries, including the aesthetic industry. As the fermentation trend continues to gain traction in skin care, many companies have set out to alter the benefits of fermentation to specifically be of value to the skin, due to the fact that it does not contain the same microorganisms as the stomach, calling for the stabilization of fermented ingredients.
The companies and consumers that have fallen in love with fermented skin care (including high-profile consumers like Gwyneth Paltrow), claim that the products are adept at hydrating and exfoliating, leaving behind a brighter and more-youthful complexion. Some users even claim that fermented products have helped their redness and sensitivity.
Despite the fact that fermented skin care is considered beneficial for sensitive skin, it is not lacking in effectiveness. Because most fermented skin care products do not use a heating process, their ingredients’ efficacy is more likely to stay intact than skin care products that create formulations after heating the ingredients.
Mia Hartmann, a cosmetic chemist at YG Laboratories, Inc., believes that fermented skin care products are better for clients with sensitive skin because they are more natural: “The fermenting process is solvent free and more natural, therefore, it causes less irritation for the skin. Biofermented sugar is a soothing ingredient because the body jives better with organic ingredients. These ingredients are less irritating because the microbiome on the skin works in favor with the fermented ingredients.”