Essence is a product category that can be confusing for some, as it can have different interpretations depending on the brand—some are toner-like fluids, while others resemble watery serums. The former is the route that SK II took with their Pitera Mid-Day Essence, and it's an OK formula to consider. It doesn't have the antioxidant-loaded formula you would expect from a good toner or essence, but SK II makes only moisturizing claims for this and to that, this formula follows through. Is it for you? We'll share the key points to help you decide.
Packaged in a frosted plastic bottle with a spray top, Pitera Mid-Day Essence is fragrance free and suitable for any skin type due to its water-like texture. The spray top dispenses a super-fine mist of product, which, we had to admit (albeit subjectively), added to the experience and did feel pleasant on skin.
Pleasant aesthetic aside, the formula itself is rather plain. However, so are the brand's claims, so there is only so much disappointment to be had—this is primarily a blend of the brands' yeast extract, pitera (listed as galactomyces ferment filtrate), glycol, water, glycerin and sodium PCA. Glycol, glycerin and sodium PCA add some humectant benefits, which lends to the sheer hydration this provides. How much should be believed about the benefits of pitera?
There is some research demonstrating that 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 alternatives on the market, but it is intriguing (Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 2015).
SK II positions this primarily as a type of refreshing spray that can be used during the day, over makeup. There isn't anything unique about its formula in terms of its ability to provide a refreshing sensation when used in such a way—any well-formulated toner can do this. Given the water-like formula, the amount of moisture provided is slight.
It does have a unique dispenser, however, in that the mist sprayed is truly super fine—more so than the average spray bottle delivers. This means there is little chance for it to muss up your makeup or sunscreen (you would need to use an excessive amount of this to be at risk for fading foundation or disrupting your SPF).
Ultimately, SK II's Pitera Mid-Day Essence isn't a necessary product—it's a harmless-for-skin splurge, and depending on your expectations (and beauty budget, as this is definitely costly) may be worth a look. If you were considering this as a toner step, then we would recommend looking to less expensive alternatives that are more robust.
However, if you simply want a fun, superfluous product that feels nice when misted on your face (and you have a little money to burn), you could do worse than what SK II is providing here.
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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