Skincare Review: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, Facial Treatment Repair C & Skin Signature

by PJ on Monday, October 10, 2011

in -SK-II, all about Japanese cosmetics, skincare, skincare - moisturizing/others

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence Skin Balancing Essence 1


Launched in 1980 by the Japanese branch of Max Factor, SK-II needs little introduction. Apart from its well-known Pitera-rich skincare products, it also carries base makeup products as well as the recently launched color makeup items. Today I am reviewing three of the brand’s skincare products, Facial Treatment Essence, Facial Treatment Repair C, and Skin Signature.

Facial Treatment Essence (Skin Balancing Essence) (75ml, 150ml, and 215ml) is one of SK-II’s hero products. It is designed to be used after a toner and before a serum. Consistency-wise, it is more like a toner than a serum, as it is very lightweight and water-like. It is absorbed into the skin fairly quickly.

The two skin-hydrating ingredients in this product are butylene glycol and pentylene glycol, and the product is alcohol-free.

Those familiar with SK-II are probably aware of how the brand highlights the benefits of Pitera, which, as far as I know, is used in almost all of SK-II’s skincare products. Pitera is listed as saccharomycopsis ferment filtrate, which is essentially yeast. Yeast can have antioxidant properties, but there is still more research to be conducted on yeast used in skincare products.

(Saccharomycopsis ferment filtrate is the first ingredient on the ingredient list of this product (before water, butylene glycol and pentylene glycol, and SK-II claims that the product contains over 90% Pitera.)

The product has a short and simple ingredient list (which is often a good thing (especially for those with sensitive skin), provided that there is no skin irritant). The only three ingredients in this product besides those mentioned above are preservatives (sodium benzoate, methylparaben, and sorbic acid).

I would position this product as a toner, and, overall, it is a very decent one. There is no obvious skin irritant and the lightweight and non-sticky consistency appeals to me. It should suit almost all skin types.


SK-II Facial Treatment Repair C Skin Hydrating and Refining Concentrate 1


Facial Treatment Repair C (Skin Hydrating and Refining Concentrate) (30ml) is one of the many serums from SK-II. It has a slippery aloe-like consistency which is similar to that of SkinCeuticals’ Hydrating B5 Moisture-Enhancing Fluid. Like Hydrating B5, the product takes some time to be absorbed. It hydrates the skin effectively, although it can leave a slightly sticky residue.

Like Facial Treatment Essence, it doesn’t have a long ingredient list. It has all the ingredients in Facial Treatment Essence (saccharomycopsis ferment filtrate is again the first ingredient on the list) except sorbic acid, and it also contains glycerin and sodium hyaluronate (both are skin moisturizing agents). The product is alcohol-free.

A straightforward skin hydrator, it is a decently formulated product that would suit most people, especially those with drier skin types.


SK-II Skin Signature Moisturising Cream 1


Skin Signature (Moisturising Cream) (80ml) is a very lightweight moisturizer. It has a water-cream consistency and spreads easily on the skin. Similar to Skin Treatment Repair C, it takes a bit of time to be fully absorbed.

Some of the moisturizing ingredients in this product are glycerin, pentylene glycol, isopropyl isostearate, butylene glycol, sucrose polycottonseedate, olive fruit oil, stearyl alcohol, and cetyl alcohol. It contains antioxidants such as tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), olive fruit oil, and tocopherol (vitamin E). (In this product, saccharomycopsis ferment filtrate is the second ingredient on the list, after water and before glycerin.)

The product contains benzyl alcohol, which can be a skin irritant, but it is towards the end of the ingredient list and is not likely to cause irritation for most people.

The product contains niacinamide (vitamin B3), which is a cell-communicating ingredient. According to Paula Begoun, niacinamide “has been shown to increase ceramide and free fatty acid levels in skin, prevent skin from losing water content, and stimulate microcirculation in the dermis“.

Niacinamide is fourth on the ingredient list, and this reminds me of many of Olay’s facial moisturizers which also have niacinamide as one of the main ingredients. This is probably not too surprising, since both Max Factor and Olay are currently owned by Procter & Gamble.

Overall this is a well-formulated moisturizer and it should suit those with normal-to-oily or combination skin. (It is one of the few moisturizers that I have reviewed that actually suit my oily-dry skin, although I still prefer Olay’s Complete Care Night Enriched Cream, which is a little more emollient.)

(Some ingredient information is from Paula Begoun’s Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.)

(The products featured in this article are provided by SK-II.)


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oh, thanks for this review! I was eyeing the Facial Treatment Essence for months because of it short ingredients list. Maybe I should really give it a go, especially since winter is around the corner now…


PJ Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hi Julia,

You are very welcome! :)

The Facial Treatment Essence is very light and fresh. If you are looking for something slightly more nourishing for colder months, then it might not be the right product for you. But if your skin gets irritated easily in winter and if you want something simple but hydrating, then it is certainly worth considering.

Thank you for stopping by again, and I hope you will like your Jill Stuart Blush Blossom in Charming Lily! :)


CedriCeCCentriC Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I started using the Essence first and loved how it made my skin look “even toned”. I find that it mattifies but also lightens past acne scars, moisturizing… not really. It does the same as Estee lauder’s Idealist but without the silicone. I later bought a larger size Essence and now I also started to use the Skin Signature moisturizer. In its yearly best loved list, Biteki magazine categorize Signature as an emulsion and not as a cream (it was n°1 btw), thought it comes in a jar. I can see why, as I already now that it won’t be moisturizing enough during the winter months. I also understand why it’s so popular in humid climates like in south east Asia (I bought mine in Singapore). I have a mixed skin that is acne-prone in the summer and drier during the winter. So, I like that the moisturizer is lightweight, but I will soon need to ad a moisturizing hyaluronic acid-based serum underneath. So far, I really like the SK II line.


PJ Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hi CedriCeCCentriC,

It certainly makes sense that Biteki and SK-II itself categorize Skin Signature as an emulsion and not as a cream. I agree with you that its lightweight texture should appeal to the consumers living in a warmer climate.

The three SK-II products that I reviewed here are all decently formulated, and I am glad that you like the ones that you are using.

(I generally don’t have an issue with silicones. Apart from creating a smooth and silky finish, silicones can maintain the efficacy of antioxidants much better than water. But I have used silicone-based serums (and primers) that leave a thick coating on the skin, which doesn’t always feel pleasant.)

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts again! :)


Dana Blushfully Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I’m looking into investing in SK-II either the FT Essence or the Repair C Serum, I wonder if the FTE will be a more all year round rather than the Repair C Serum if it is more sticky in texture and sinks in longer. Should I start with the FTE or the Repair C incorporating it into my skincare routine?


PJ Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hi Dana,

I would probably suggest that you start with Facial Treatment Essence (as a toner) and see how it works for you. If you think you need more hydration, then incorporate Facial Treatment Repair C into the routine. (You may only need it on the drier parts of your skin.)

If you do decide to try either or both of the two products, do let me know what you think!

Thank you for stopping by again! :)


Irene Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I have just received SKII Facial Treatment Concentrate as a gift. Would you have reviewed it? Would like to know what you think about it, perhaps on email if it is a past review? Thanks.


PJ Friday, February 10, 2012

Hi Irene,

I haven’t tried SK-II’s Facial Treatment Concentrate. If I have a chance to try it, I will certainly share my thoughts on my blog.

Thank you very much for your question! :)


Eve Tuesday, February 14, 2012

hi i am using SKII products for past two months. I am just a bit lost that i have no clear instruction what to use first and what comes next.. i have got the facial treatment essence, facial treatment repair C and cellumination deep surge and whitening source Dermdefinition UV lotion SPF 50. Do i use everything in one day. Usually i use the facial treatment repair C as a night cream.. pls advice .. Thanks


PJ Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hi Eve,

Based on the information on SK-II’s Japanese website, you can (if you need to) use all of them in your morning skincare routine and use all of them except Whitening Source Dermdefinition UV Lotion in your evening skincare routine.

To use all of them, the order would be:

Facial Treatment Essence (as a toner)
Facial Treatment Repair C (as a serum)
Cellumination Deep Surge (as a moisturizer)
WS Dermdefinition UV Lotion (as a sunscreen)

Depending on how much hydration you need, you can skip Facial Treatment Repair C and/or Cellumination Deep Surge in the morning and you can skip either Facial Treatment Repair C or Cellumination Deep Surge in the evening.

Hope it helps, and thank you for your question! :)


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