Essential Power Rich Cream is nearly identical to SK-II's Essential Power Cream. The texture isn't "richer" than the Essential Power Cream, but both are suitable for normal to dry skin—that assumes you want to believe SK-II's nonsense about their "miracle" ingredient Pitera (discussed below) and you have money to burn.
This moisturizer is drastically overpriced, especially when you consider that many of its ingredients won't remain stable once you open the jar packaging, exposing the contents to light and air (see More Info for details). Otherwise, its formula is similar to most others from SK-II: It's a blend of water with their "star" ingredient Pitera (explained below), the B vitamin niacinamide, several thickeners, and some novel antioxidant plant extracts.
Essential Power Cream will make normal to dry skin look and feel better, but so will countless other moisturizers that cost substantially less, come in stable packaging, and are better formulated. This is further proof that when it comes to skin care, expensive doesn't necessarily mean better!
Despite the claims for this product and other products from SK-II, Pitera is not a miracle anti-aging or skin-firming ingredient. It's the trade name for Saccharomycopsis ferment filtrate (SFF), a form of yeast purportedly unique because of the fermenting and filtering process it goes through before being added to these products. As it turns out, many forms of yeast have anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties, including SFF (Source: Journal of Dermatologic Science, June 2006, pages 249–257). Other than that, all of the information about Pitera comes from papers presented at medical conferences, not from published studies.
Presenting papers at medical conferences is not at all the same thing as publishing the results of studies. We frequently present papers and information at medical conferences, and we wouldn't offer that material as proof of anything—because it isn't. The standards for presenting a paper at a medical conference are much less stringent than the requirements for publication of study results in respected medical journals.
Even if Pitera is a wonder ingredient, that doesn't explain how it rates in comparison with other great ingredients because there are no comparison studies. Hundreds of ingredients—from green tea to superoxide dismutase, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, caffeic acid, beta-carotene, pomegranate, and curcumin to vitamin E, vitamin A, and on and on and on—have stellar reputations, and there's copious published documentation to prove it. In no way is Pitera the end-all, be-all, must-have ingredient.
The fact that this moisturizer is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; and Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).
Despite its high-end pricing, much of the SK-II products are surprisingly ordinary—many contain a small assortment of beneficial ingredients in addition to standard moisturizing agents and fragrance. Though their marketing campaigns are compelling, much is left to be desired when you compare glossy layouts to ingredients and formulas.
Pitera is the cornerstone of the SK-II line and is present in every SK-II product. There is some research demonstrating that this yeast, galactomyces ferment filtrate, has a protective effect on the skin barrier, working to prevent damage to the proteins that play a critical role in maintaining its integrity. There isn’t much beyond this single study, so there is no way to compare it to the already well-researched ingredients on the market, but it is intriguing (Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 2015). Why SK-II chose to base their line around this ingredient given the lack of knowledge about it is curious—there are plenty of research-proven alternatives they could have considered (vitamin C, green tea, retinol, etc.), or at least paired with Pitera!
In the end, much of the SK-II line lacks the formulas to warrant their price tags. However, if you’re looking to splurge, there are a few products to consider—see our full reviews for more information.
For more information about SK-II, owned by Procter & Gamble, visit www.sk-ii.com.
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