3 Best Alternatives To SK ii First Essence Toner

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Many of us are familiar with SK ii’s first essence toner, also dubbed ‘miracle water’, however with the price of one bottle stretching up to $179, many of us are looking for products similar to SK ii that wouldn’t weigh as heavy on our wallets.

And if you’re one of them, you’re in luck – today I’m uncovering the best alternatives for the award-winning facial essence and explaining exactly why you should consider adding them into your beauty routine.

So what even is SK ii First Essence and why is it so great? SK ii’s sales associates will tell you that the magic is found in something called Pitera, but what is this ingredient exactly?


Get the original SK ii Facial Treatment Essence on Nordstrom / Sephora


What Is Pitera And Why Should You Care?


Pitera is the broth of a special type of yeast that is used when fermenting rice to produce sake, and it’s only found in one location in Japan. It’s rich in over 50 nutrients such as amino acids, proteins, organics and acids that are naturally found in your skin.

The powers of Pitera were first discovered when scientists observed that the workers in these sake factories had faces that were wrinkled and lined and yet their hands appeared to be youthful, soft and plump.

This discovery prompted years of research until finally, SK ii came out with their hero line of products that used Pitera as their primary ingredients – for example, the first treatment essence consists of 90% Pitera.

The benefits of this ingredient are nothing short of amazing, not only does it provide anti-aging benefits, it’s also great for moisturizing the skin, enhancing cell turnover (which helps you get rid of any pigmentation issues like sun spots faster) and evening out the complexion.

Now, even though Pitera patented by SK ii, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t similar products to SM ii on the market that would do the job as efficiently. In fact, I found three great affordable alternatives. We’ll get into the science behind these products as well, so if you’re interested in finding out more, keep on reading.


The Best Products Similar To SK ii First Essence:

1. Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence


Products Similar To SK ii: Missha Time Revolution First Essence


Those of you who have looked into products like SK ii before are most probably familiar with Missha’s Time Revolution Essence. Not only do these products look extremely similar by the packaging, but many people have also come out and speculated that these products use virtually the same formula.

While that may not be true, there is a lot of truth to these rumours – the main ingredient in Missha’s Time Revolution is saccharomyces ferment, which, surprise surprise, is another name for yeast broth that comes from the yeast used in the production of wine, beer and bread. Not surprisingly, SK ii’s Pitera also comes from a strain of saccharomycopsis.

So, is it as potent as Pitera? Perhaps, although SK ii definitely argues against this. Missha’s Essence has better reviews and a higher approval rating than SK ii on both Amazon and YesStyle, not to mention that the price is a fraction of SK ii’s.

Interestingly, there haven’t been any scientific studies that would state that Pitera is in any way superior to other more affordable yeast extracts that are used in cosmetics.


See the latest price Walmart here | Also available on Ebay | on YesStyle


2. CosRX Galactomyces 95% Tone Balancing Essence


Products Similar To SK ii: CosRX Galactomyces 95% Tone Balancing Essence


The next products similar to SK ii that we are going to discuss use galactomyces ferment, which is used by both CosRX Galactomyces 95% Tone Balancing Essence as well as Secret Key. Galactomyces is another fungus that is used in the fermentation in sake.

Interestingly, the legend behind how galactomyces ferment came to be used as a skincare ingredient is exactly the same as the story that SK ii tells us about Pitera: scientists noticed that Sake brewery workers had noticeably soft and supple hands compared to their wrinkled faces.

So who is the one telling the truth – is the legendary ingredient that fights the signs of aging Pitera, or is it galactomyces filtrate?

While we may never know if this story is true about how both ingredients came to be popular skincare ingredients, their mode of action and the beauty claims of both products are definitely similar.

However, there is actually more evidence supporting the beneficial properties of galactomyces filtrate in skincare when compared to Pitera. Numerous studies can be found on Google Scholar regarding galactomyces in skincare, whereas Pitera and saccharomyces ferment seem to be more mysterious and less studied.

If you’re not that interested in looking into the scientific evidence, I’ll give you a small recap: Interestingly, it’s been scientifically shown that galactomyces filtrate induces renewal of hyaluronic acid in skin, which (correct me if I’m wrong) is something that SK ii hasn’t actually been able to demonstrate!

Galactomyces filtrate is also known as a superior moisturizing ingredient that provides anti-oxidant properties to the skin. It’s also great for reducing the appearance of acne.

The best products that include galactomyces in their formulations are CosRX and Secret Key.

The CosRX Essence is the most affordable product on the list, which makes it a great entry product into the world of using yeast extracts in your skincare.


See the latest price on Ulta here | Also available on YesStyle


3. Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence


Products Similar To SK ii: Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence VS SKii


As mentioned in my previous paragraph detailing the beneficial properties of galactomyces filtrate, products containing this ingredient is something that you will definitely want to look into if you’re serious about skincare.

Much like CosRX’s Galactomyces 95% Essence, the Secret Key’s Starting Treatment Essence contains galactomyces filtrate, which has been proven to enhance the production of hyaluronic acid in the skin, provide superior moisture to the skin and protect it from free radicals. It also works wonderfully for acne-prone skin.

The price of this is around $20, so it’s on par with CosRX and relatively affordable for the effects that you get.


See the latest price on Ebay here | Also available on Walmart | on YesStyle


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  1. thank you so much for this article! I heard great things about SK II but NO WAY was I paying that much lol. Needed something just as good for a fraction of the price 🙂

    1. Maria Julia says:

      Thank Jae, I’m glad the article helped! 🙂 I’ve had good results with the Misha Timeless Essence, and it’s great that it’s so affordable!

  2. Ooh this list is awesome! You can tell you put a lot of attention and research into these alternatives.
    Can you also compare SK-II toner or any other notable toners?

    1. Maria Julia says:

      Which other toners do you have in mind? 🙂 My top tip is to look at the ingredient list on the essences/toners – if you pick a toner that has galactomyces as the main ingredient, the toners should perform pretty much the same!

  3. Thank you for sharing the useful info. I was looking for SKII alternative.

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