SK-II Skin Refining Treatment
1.7 fl. oz. for $150
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Brand Overview
Expert Reviews

We almost fell off our chair when we saw the price of this ordinary salicylic acid (BHA) cream. Other than Pitera—and we have no idea why every product has to have this ingredient—there is no reason to spend this much of your hard-earned money on what amounts to a decent, though basic BHA product. One word of warning: At 2.3, the pH of this product is unusually low, which means there is a high potential for irritation. Also, the jar packaging isn’t the best. But given that this fragrance-free product contains the teensiest amount of an antioxidant and some aloe water, even that can’t really make a difference.

Last Updated:02.08.2013
Jar Packaging:Yes
Tested on animals:Yes
Community Reviews

Skin Refining Cream. Refines. Retextures. Brightens the skin. A luxurious smoothing cream with Beta-Hydroxy Acid and Pitera. Lifts away dull, dry surface layers to reveal a fresher, clearer, polished complexion.


Water, Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate (Pitera), PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, BHT, Steareth-21, Steareth-2, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben

Brand Overview

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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