3 Best Alternatives To SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence

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You are probably familiar with SK-II facial treatment essence, also dubbed ‘miracle water.’ However, with the price tag of one bottle stretching up to $235, you might be looking for a more affordable SK-II alternative that doesn’t weigh as heavy on your wallet – here are the 3 best ones.

So, what even is SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and why is it so great? SK-II’s sales associates will tell you that the best-selling essence will give you soft skin, an even skin tone,  enhanced radiance, and most importantly, it will reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark spots. Apparently, the magic is found in something called Pitera, but what exactly is this ingredient?


What Is Pitera And Why Should You Care?


Pitera refers to 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 power of Pitera was first discovered when scientists observed that the workers in these sake factories had wrinkled faces with fine lines, 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, SK-II’s facial treatment essence consists of 90% Pitera.

The benefits of this key ingredient are nothing short of amazing; not only does it provide anti-aging benefits, but it’s also great for moisturizing the skin, enhancing cell turnover, helping balance uneven skin tone, as well as improve skin elasticity and skin barrier function. Plus, SK-II’s products are suitable for all skin types, including mature skin, dry skin, sensitive skin and oily skin.

Now, even though Pitera is patented by SK-II, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t similar products to SK-II’s facial treatment essence 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.


3 Best SK-iI  Facial Treatment Alternatives:

1. Missha Time Revolution First Essence 5X


Missha Time Revolution First Essence 5X

Get this on Soko Glam Also available on YesStyle


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 have also speculated that these products have an almost identical formula.

While that may not be completely accurate, there is actually a lot of truth to these rumors. The star ingredient in Missha’s Time Revolution is saccharomyces ferment, which, surprise surprise, is another name for a yeast broth that comes from the production of wine, beer and bread. Not surprisingly, SK-II’s Pitera also comes from a strain of saccharomycopsis, although it is not exactly the same strain.

So, is Missha’s Time Revolution Essence 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 essence on YesStyle, it retails for a fraction of the price!

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.


2. Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence 


Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence 

Get this on Walmart | Also available on YesStyle


The next SK-II alternative is one that uses galactomyces ferment – it’s the best-selling Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence that contains 94% galactomyses extract.

Galactomyces is another yeast that is used in the fermentation of sake, and 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, the results you get from both ingredients, and the way that they work on your skin 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, here’s a small recap: it’s been scientifically shown that galactomyces filtrate induces the renewal of hyaluronic acid in the skin, in addition to delivering other benefits. With this said, as Pitera and galactomyses seem structurally similar, it’s possible that Pitera also has this effect, even though there aren’t as many research papers available.

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 and acne scars.

The Secret Key Starting Treatment 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. Plus, in addition to galactomyces filtrate, this wallet-friendly essence also includes niacinamide, which is fantastic for sebum control and hyperpigmentation, glycerin to moisturize, and adenosine to soothe the skin.

It also comes in two different editions: the original and the rose edition (featured above), which is infused with Rosa Centifolia flower water that has anti-inflammatory properties.


3. CosRX Galactomyces 95% Tone Balancing Essence


CosRX Galactomyces 95% Tone Balancing Essence

Get this on Ulta | Also available on YesStyle

As mentioned above, products containing galactomyces filtrate are something that you will definitely want to look into if you’re serious about skincare.

Much like Secret Key’s product, the main ingredient in COSRX’s Galactomyses 95% Tone Balancing Essence is 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.

In addition to this, the Essence also contains niacinamide for sebum control and hyperpigmentation, as well as hyaluronic acid to provide surface hydration to the skin and reinforces the moisture barrier.




While SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence is a wonderful skincare product that delivers on its promises, it is quite pricey for the average consumer. So, if you are looking for an affordable alternative to SK-II’s best-selling essence, your best bet is to turn to skincare products that mostly contain a yeast filtrate, whether that is galactomyses or saccharomyces ferment filtrate, or a different yeast extract.

In our opinion, the best affordable products to add to your skincare routine are the three listed above. While you’ll get similar results with all of them, Missha’s Time Revolution Essence and Secret Key’s Starting Essence are the most popular choices out of the three. If you’re on a budget, opt for Secret Key’s Starting Essence, as it’s the most budget-friendly option! 

We hope you enjoyed this post about the best SKII Facial Treatment Essence alternatives! For more similar ideas, make sure to check out the articles below.


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